Kaija Saariaho, a Finnish composer has been selected as the winner of the Golden Lion (Leone d’oro) for Lifetime Achievement. Venice Music Biennale announced her as the winner in March. She will be receiving her award in Venice, September 17th, 2021.

Venice Music Biennale’s new Artistic Director, Lucia Ronchetti praised the composer Kaija Saariaho for her “breadth of work for voice, vocal ensemble, choir, and the originality of her vocal compositions”.

Kaija Saariaho

Finnish Composer

Born and raised in Helsinki where she also studied (including at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture and also Sibelius Academy)

She has lived in Paris, France since 1982

Married to a French composer Jean-Baptiste Barrière

She has two kids named Aleksi and Aliisa

Saariaho has composed a lot and she has many well known pieces,  including her operas. Her first opera is called L’Amour de loin and it won the Grawmeyer award in 2003. Her second opera called Adriana Mater received its World Premier in Paris in 2006. It has also been seen in Helsinki, UK, and in the US at the Santa Fe Opera in 2008. Saariaho’s third opera is called Émilie and fourth one Only The Sound Remains. Kaija Saariaho’s fifth composed opera called Innocence is written by Sofi Oksanen.

She is undoubtedly talented, and she has done so much more beyond her Opera compositions. Saariaho has a total of 120 finished works according to her own site. She has been awarded throughout her career and she is recognized composer worldwide so no wonder she is the winner of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.

She will be awarded on September 17th, 2021 and the opening concert program will include one of her pieces called Oltra Mar (Composed 1999).