Symposium “Perspectives on Music in Times of War”

Symposium is part of the EU-project “Music, War and Peace in Europe 1922–2022”

Piano destroyed in an explosion Photo: iStock Photo

The current war in Ukraine is a tragic reminder of how little we learn from history, and how much the work of memory, which we expect to preserve from repeating the mistakes of the past, must always be put back to work. War is also one of the prominent themes of 20th century music, particularly within European art music.

In November 2023, a two-day symposium in Helsinki will take place to provide artistic and scholarly viewpoints on questions of wartime and war-related music. The two-day event consists of a masterclass focussing on wartime European art music repertoire on Monday Nov 20th, and a research seminar on Tuesday Nov 21st.

The teachers and active participants of the masterclass will be Sibelius Academy artistic researchers and advanced students, and listeners are also welcome. The invited speakers of the research seminar are established researchers in the field of wartime music. Each research seminar session is followed by an in-depth discussion round with the speakers and the audience. Both days are concluded with concerts. On Monday, the students of the masterclass will present the outcome of the day. The closing concert on Tuesday will feature internationally acknowledged chamber musicians associated with the project “Music, War and Peace”.

Programme on Monday, 20 November 2023

Public Masterclass “Wartime Repertoire”

Participants: Students of the Sibelius Academy
Teachers: DMus Kirill Kozlovski (pf/chamber music), DMus Anne Elisabeth Piirainen (cl/chamber music)

9.15–10.15 Registration and Info desk at Lower Foyer

10.15–10.30 Opening by Anne Elisabeth Piirainen

10.30–12.00 Public Masterclass part 1
Dmitri Shostakovich Piano Quintet

12.00–13.30 Lunch break

13.30–14.30 Lecture-Recital and discussion
Kirill Kozlovski and Anne Elisabeth Piirainen: On Approaching Wartime Repertoire 
Iryna Gorkun-Silén: National Identity in Music during Wartime. A Ukrainian Story.
Works for flute and piano by Zhanna Kolodub and Myroslav Skoryk

14.30–17.00 Public Masterclass part 2
14.30 Leo Smit: Flute Sonata
15.45 Leoš Janaček: Violin Sonata

17.00–17.30 Wrap-up session and discussion

19.00 Wartime repertoire – Masterclass Student Concert
Works by Janaček, Smit, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Shostakovich

The evening concert do not require registration and entrance is free.

Programme on Tuesday, 21 November 2023

Research Seminar Day 

9.00–9.45 Registration and Info desk at Lower Foyer

9.45–10.00 Welcome by Anne Elisabeth Piirainen

10.00–12.00 Session 1: Jewish Music in the Context of War and Pogrom

10–10.20 Simo Muir: War and the Holocaust in Yiddish Music Theatre in Helsinki

10.20–10.40 Henrik Rosengren: War, Holocaust memories and art music in the Nordic Countries

10.40–10.50 Anne Kauppala: Louis Laber and troublesome identities

10.50–11.00 Anne Elisabeth Piirainen: Muted Melodies – tracing the influence of Stalin´s oppression on the work of composers with Jewish roots

11.00–12.00 Panel and discussion

12.00–13.30 Lunch break

13.30–14.30  EU project Music, War and Peace in Europe 1922–2022

13.30–13.40 Video greeting by Amaury du Closel, EU project leader, conductor, Forum Voix Étouffeés  Strasbourg                     
13.40–14.00 Presentation of the project and fields of action by Dario Martinelli and Anne Elisabeth Piirainen
14.00–14.30 Philippe Olivier: Women musicians during the occupation of France by Nazi Germany (1940–45): Resistance fighters and “collaborators”

14.30–15.30 Coffee break (at Lower Foyer)

15.30–17.30 Session 2: Music and Resistance

15.30–15.50 Dario Martinelli: Resistance or resistances? The different political models of musical protest

15.50–16.10 Simo Mikkonen: Subtle resistance: Soviet musicians performing unofficial Soviet music in Cold War Finland

16.10–16.20 Saijaleena Rantanen: Memories of the Civil War in music

16.20–16.30 Inkeri Jaakkola: “Kupalinka, Variations on a Belarusian Song” as a wordless protest and an expression of sympathy

16.30–16.35 Kirill Kozlovski, piano: Kupalinka, Variations on a Belarusian Song (by Inkeri Jaakkola)

16.35–17.35 Panel and discussion

17.35–17.45 Closing remarks

19.00 Final Concert: Sounds of Sorrow and Hope – Music from World War 2

Anne Elisabeth Piirainen, clarinet
Kirill Kozlovski, piano
Quatuor Lontano (France):
Pauline Klaus and Florent Billy, violins 
Loic Abdelfettah, viola
Camille Renault, cello
Works by Zeitlin, Lyatoshinsky, Weinberg, Lavry, Englund

The evening concerts do not require registration and entrance is free.

Organizers of the symposium

The symposium is organised by the ongoing EU project “Music, War and Peace in Europe 1922–2022”, the Uniarts History Forum, and Sibelius Academy. The event is funded by the European Commission (“Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values” Programme – CERV-2022, call “European Remembrance“) and the University of the Arts Helsinki. The coordinator of the project is Forum Voix Étouffeés.

Safer space guide­lines for aca­d­e­mic events

We encourage academic discussion, but ask everyone to keep their comments constructive and respectful, thus contributing to a positive, encouraging, and safer atmosphere in Uniarts Helsinki.


The organizers welcome everyone interested, and attendance is free of charge. The language of the event is English. Pre-registration is required and the registration is open until 12 November 2023.

Practical Information

Our symposium venue Helsinki Music Centre is situated in central Helsinki. Access to the Music Centre from the direction of Mannerheimintie will be difficult. We recommend that you allow enough time for your arrival and use the entrance on the side of Kansalaistori if possible.

We recommend following the official information channels of the renovation project, where you can find the most up-to-date information.

Helsinki city centre can be thoroughly explored on foot. Helsinki does, however, have an extensive public transport system with buses, two metro lines, and commuter trains. The tram network is particularly useful for exploring the city centre in case of bad weather. A public transport tickets can be purchased from the automats at e.g. Helsinki-Vantaa airport, main railway station or metro stations and from the HSL app.

More information

DMus Anne Elisabeth Piirainen (EU-project, Masterclass)
Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki

D.Soc.Sc. Kaarina Kilpiö (Seminar Day)
History Forum, University of the Arts Helsinki

Event production:
Coordinator Johanna Rauhaniemi
University of the Arts Helsinki

Funded by the European Union logo with the EUs flag


20.11.2023 at 9:15 – 21:00
21.11.2023 at 9:00 – 21:00



Mannerheimintie 13a

00100 Helsinki

Helsinki Music Centre


Admission free. Pre-registration will be closed on 12 November 2023.

Location on map

See directions