Jorma Panula
Jorma Panula in 2009
Born (1930-08-10) 10 August 1930 (age 93)
Other namesJorma Juhani Panula
Occupation(s)Conductor, composer

Jorma Juhani Panula (born 10 August 1930) is a Finnish conductor, composer, and teacher of conducting. He has mentored many Finnish conductors, such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mikko Franck, Sakari Oramo, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Osmo Vänskä, Klaus Mäkelä and Tarmo Peltokoski.



Panula was born in Kauhajoki. He studied church music and conducting at the Sibelius Academy. His teachers included Leo Funtek, Dean Dixon, Albert Wolff and Franco Ferrara. Apart from conducting, he has composed a wide variety of music. His operas Jaakko Ilkka and the River Opera established a new genre called "performance opera", which fused music, visual art and the art of daily life. Panula's other compositions include musicals, church music, a violin concerto, jazz capriccio and numerous pieces of vocal music.

Panula was the artistic director and chief conductor of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra from 1963 to 1965, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra from 1965 to 1972 and the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra from 1973 to 1976. He has also conducted his own opera Jaakko Ilkka at the Finnish National Opera.

Panula has served as Professor of Conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki from 1973 to 1994 and at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen.[1] As a pedagogue, Panula has been a teacher and mentor to many Finnish conductors, including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mikko Franck, Sakari Oramo, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Osmo Vänskä,[2] Dalia Stasevska, Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Klaus Mäkelä and Tarmo Peltokoski.

He has taught conducting courses all over the world, such as in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Moscow, New York, Tanglewood, Aspen, Ottawa and Sydney. Panula was listed as one of the "60 most powerful people in music" featured in the November 2000 issue of BBC Music Magazine. Panula was awarded the Rolf Schock Prize in 1997.[3] He conducted the Helsinki City Symphony Orchestra in the première in December 1971 of the first symphony by Aulis Sallinen.[4]

In March 2014, Panula caused controversy in a Finnish television interview with remarks that denigrated the ability of women to conduct particular composers, and that women were suited to conducting music that was "feminine enough", such as Debussy, but that they were unsuited for conducting Bruckner. He stated that "women [conductors]… Of course they are trying! Some of them are making faces, sweating and fussing, but it is not getting any better – only worse!... It’s not a problem – if they choose the right pieces. If they take more feminine music... This is a purely biological question."[5][6] Other conductors, such as his former student Salonen, responded critically to Panula's remarks.[7]


  1. ^ Ellison, Cori (22 February 1998). "Making Maestros for the World". New York Times. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  2. ^ Reader's Digest (Finland), November 1998.
  3. ^ "Pristagare". The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (in Swedish). Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  4. ^ Sallinen, Aulis (January 1987), Catalogue, London: Novello
  5. ^ Vincent, Michael (5 April 2014). "Editorial: CBC Classical music gender gap article poses new questions". Ludwig van Toronto. Retrieved 13 January 2024.
  6. ^ "Jorma Panula naiskapellimestareista: "Saahan ne yrittää"". MTV Finland (in Finnish). 30 March 2014. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2024. Mutta naiset... Kyllähän ne yrittää! Toiset irvistää ja rehkii ja präiskyttää mutta ei se siitä parane, pahenoo vain! ... Niin, tämä on puhtaasti biologinen kysymys
  7. ^ Paavonen, Mia (31 March 2014). "Jorma Panulan rajut kommentit naiskapellimestareista saavat täystyrmäyksen". Ilta Sanomat (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 14 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2014.

Further reading

Preceded byOle Edgren Turku Philharmonic Orchestra 1963–1965 Succeeded byPaavo Rautio Preceded byTauno Hannikainen Music Director, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra 1965–1972 Succeeded byPaavo Berglund Preceded byPer Dreier Principal Conductor, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra 1973–1976 Succeeded byOle Schmidt