Obscure Music Monday: Hannikainen's Will-o'-the-wisp
Toivo Ilmari Hannikainen (Oct. 19, 1892 - July 25, 1955) was a Finnish composer, born in to a musical family. His father Pekka Junani Hannikainen was a composer, as was his brother Väinö Hannikainen. His brother Tauno Hannikainen was a conductor. Ilmari studied music at the University of Helsinki, and went on to study in Vienna, St. Petersburg, and Paris. He taught piano at the Helsinki Conservatory, and was later a professor at the Sibelius Academy.
Many Finnish composers around this time were late Romanticists, but Hannikainen's music was more along the lines of Impressionism. He wrote opera, lieder, film scores, but is most known for his piano miniatures.
Will-o'-the-wisp (aka Virvatuli) packs a lot in two-and-a-half minutes! Meant to musically describe will-o'-the-wisp, which is a light that floats over marshes, this piece is filled with glissandos and sparkling arpeggios. According to this charming and short but sweet work, the will-o'-the-wisp waltzes over marshes ever so deftly, before ending on a beautiful glissando and final low note.
Here is a recording of this lovely work for you to enjoy!