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Joonas Kokkonen wrote 4 symphonies and other large orchestral works that are very unique in the Finnish musical history, vocal works, like his "Requiem" and the Opera "The Last Temptations" and a great number of large chamber works, like the 3 String Quartets.
Joonas Kokkonen followed his own paths and created a personalic style which was very different from the style of Sibelius. It is very hard to find any influence of Sibelius in his music and his ideas of music were totally different. Kokkonen had very strong thoughts about what music should be and, for example, didn’t believe in inspiration.
Kokkonen lived almost his entire life in Järvenpää, nearby Helsinki. Later he became a member of the Finnish Academy and received several prizes and awards. Later he and his family moved to "Villa Kokkonen" in Järvenpää, which was designed by the world-famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.
The climax of Kokkonen’s career as a composer was in 1975 when his Opera "The Last Temptations" was created. Since then it has been performed for over 500 times around the world, also in the Metropolitan Opera in 1983.
Kokkonen’s first success was his 1st symphony in 1960. His last masterpieces were "...durch einen spiegel..." (1977) "Requiem" (1981). It seems that he never completed his 5th symphony which has not been found.
The Swedish record company BIS is recording the complete works of Joonas Kokkonen. The complete orchestral works can be found in five discs.