ABSTRACT

The four-movement Music for String Orchestra dates from 1957 and represents Kokkonen's first orchestral composition following nearly two decades of piano, voice and piano and chamber works. The work has at times been labeled Music for Strings, a title that Kokkonen was quick to admonish, for he was explicit that the normal complement of strings from a symphony orchestra, and not a string quartet or the reduced forces of a chamber ensemble is the appropriate size of ensemble for the work. His insistence of the orchestral string ensemble should not be seen as some pedantic stance; rather, Kokkonen, more any anyone would have recognized the importance that the Music for String Orchestra would have played in his development as a composer—namely, as a move away from the intimate nature of solo and chamber music to the realm of symphonic music for which he is so celebrated. Given the fame that the first two symphonies brought him, it seems hardly surprising that Kokkonen would have situated the Music for String Orchestra more closely with these more substantial works that appeared not long after, rather than his chamber works from the 1950s.