As recounted in chapter two, Kokkonen was essentially self-taught as a composer: the only extensive formal musical training he received at the Sibelius Academy, aside from classes in theory and history, was on the piano, where he studied with the Finnish pianist Ilmari Hannikainen. Indeed, Kokkonen began his musical career not as a composer but, rather, as a concert pianist and during the 1940s and 1950s developed a level of recognition in Finland, particularly as a performer of Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, and Mozart. Kokkonen's performances also included Bach, and it was from his first-hand experience with his keyboard works that Kokkonen developed his life-long admiration and passion for the Baroque master's compositions.