ONLINE EVENT: Music and philosophy: Music genres and society

How are music genres connected to the social context of their time and to different lifestyles?

Portraits of Matti Huttuen, Olga Heikkilä, Eveliina Sumelius-Lindblom and Ville Komppa.
Matti Huttunen, Olga Heikkilä, Eveliina Sumelius-Lindblom, Ville Komppa. Photos: Matti Huttunen, John Bishop, Nina Stolt/Studio Onni, Raimo Oinas

The event is organised as a co-production between the Taidepiste event series and the Music and philosophy lecture concert series.

Music genres are one of the key research subjects in music sociology. Both musical and societal factors are crystallised in the genres: Genres typically have their own musical structural principles and, at the same time, also their own position in society. We also talk about the aesthetic-social “tone” typical of the genre, which combines its structural and social characteristics. Genres are often associated with different lifestyles and the question of “the right kind” of art and artist aspirations.

The theme of the discussion is music genres and the way they are linked to the social context of their time, how they have formed into what they are, and how different genres have been combined and defied their genre lines. In addition to the discussion, attendees get to listen to music pieces, which all have their specific status and character that challenge the listener to reflect on the piece’s nature and genre.

The problem of genres will be more deeply examined at the event by mirroring it with Theodor W. Adorno’s idea of the societal nature of musical material. The music content of the lecture concert seeks to shed light on the various manifestations of music genres, and it includes several pieces that are unconventional with regard to the normal genre classification. Composers that are featured include G.F. Handel, Luigi Nono, Paul Hindemith, Aleksandr Mosolov, Kurt Weill and Igor Stravinsky.


Matti Huttunen, discussion
Ville Komppa, discussion
Olga Heikkilä, soprano
Eveliina Sumelius-Lindblom, piano

Matti Huttunen (D.Mus) studied musicology and theoretical philosophy at the University of Turku, and he defended his doctoral degree in musicology in 1993. He also completed the flute III course degree at the Sibelius Academy in 1987. Huttunen has served as a lecturer and principal teacher of music history at the Helsinki Conservatory of Music 1989-99 and Professor of Arts and Design at the Sibelius Academy in 1997-2005. He currently teaches music philosophy at the Sibelius Academy of Uniarts Helsinki. Huttunen’s research topics include the history of ideology and learning in music, history of the performing arts and music philosophy. In 2017, Huttunen won the Pro Musica Foundation Award.

Ville Komppa (M.Mus) works as a lecturer in music theory at the Sibelius Academy of Uniarts Helsinki, and his research focus lies on the use of improvisation and ensemble playing in teaching harmony, voice leading and music analysis. Komppa finds the various phenomena of music, culture and community interaction meaningful both in work and in his free time, whether they relate to the arts, teaching of arts, community engagement, wellbeing or climate work. Komppa works as a composer and arranger, performs as a clarinettist, hosts a public lecture series named Tunne orkesterisi at the Helsinki Music Centre and Espoo Cultural Centre and has previously done classical music broadcasting for Yle and Radio Helsinki.

In her artistic research, Olga Heikkilä, DocMus doctoral candidate at the Sibelius Academy of Uniarts Helsinki, focuses on the work “À tour de Pierrot lunaire” to explore the boundaries between speaking and singing from the reciter’s perspective, using Arnold Schönberg’s Pierrot lunaire as the starting point. As a researcher of different approaches to singing, Heikkilä has noticed that the “outside-the-box” thinking of singers not only offers them opportunities for breakthroughs, but also provides a foundation for the creation of entirely new trends in music (Yvette Guilbert – cabaret songs; Albertine Zehme – Pierrot lunaire; Cathy Berberiaka). In her own approach to singing, Heikkilä cherishes versatility, which she believes nourishes the very nucleus of her musicality. Heikkilä is a Master of Music (2015) and a Master of Theology (2007) and has an advanced postgraduate degree in music from the Royal Opera Academy of Denmark. As a researcher, she has made several conference presentations at Sibelius Academy events (2016-2020), lecture concerts at the third “Doctors in Performance” conference in Vilnius (2018) and at the Royal Academy of Music in London (2018). Support for Heikkilä’s doctoral project was provided by the steering group for research and doctoral training of Uniarts Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy Foundation. In the summer of 2020, Heikkilä participated in the Nordic Summer University event by presenting her composition for vocals, Demarcation (2020).

Eveliina Sumelius-Lindblom (L.Mus) is a pianist, whose career is characterised by creating new music and exploring different approaches. In her doctoral project, Sumelius-Lindblom focused on the repertoire of the early 20th century, with a focus on French and French piano literature. As a researcher, Sumelius-Lindblom is interested in the philosophical foundations of music and conceptual analysis. In her articles, she has discussed, for example, the aesthetic and intertextual characteristics of neoclassical music and the embodied intelligence of the reciter’s perceptual approaches. Sumelius-Lindblom’s doctoral project was funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Uusimaa Regional Fund, the Greta and William Foundation, the steering group for research and doctoral training of Uniarts Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy Foundation. In the spring of 2018, Sumelius-Lindblom spent a month as an artist-in-residence at Cité-des-Arts in Paris. Further information: Eveliina Sumelius-Lindblom


Taidepiste is Uniarts Helsinki’s new event series, which explores social phenomena through multidisciplinary discussions and art experiences that are free and open to the public. Taidepiste events are organised once a month in the Main Foyer of the Helsinki Music Centre and on Uniarts Helsinki’s YouTube channel. The event series is sponsored by the Louise and Göran Ehrnrooth Foundation. Read more about Taidepiste

Music and philosophy lecture concert series

What is the relationship between music and society and how does society fit in music? These questions have captivated many composers, musicians, music researchers and philosophers. The lecture concert series in the autumn of 2020 and spring of 2021 aims to explore the relationship between music and society from a variety of perspectives

The lecture concert series is part of the  30 Years of Doctorates in Music at the Sibelius Academy anniversary.


28.1.2021 at 18:00


The event will be organised without live audience and streamed on Youtube


The event is free and open to the public