Kalevala National Epic and the Musical


Kalevala’s First Poem
“ It is so that mind is settled,
brain has thought idea fettled,
ballad shortly I’ll be singing,
I shall soon its change be ringing,
ancient song from people springing,
that’s the song that I’ll be singing.
Words are melting as I speak them,
speech is tumbling as it brings them,
tongue is rattling sense around them,
teeth are parting to disperse them.

Source: The first in Finnish is from the centennial publication of Kalevala from 1935. And yes, this version from 1935 of Kalevala is in my bookshelf – thanks mom. The English translation is cited from Lingua Fennica.

Kalevala is a symbolism of Finland, and I would dare to say that every Finn knows it, but the book itself might feel distant. Elias Lönnrot (1802-1884) was a doctor, botanist, and linguist. He was also an author, poet, and journalist. Lönnrot scouted the land of Finland, collecting folk songs and poetry. He collected, reorganized and compiled Kalevala and the first version, Old Kalevala, was published in 1835. He continued his work with the national epic, and the final version, the version we know today of Kalevala was finished in 1849.

Kalevala has been translated to multiple languages and there are different versions of the book including Canine Kalevala by Mauri Kunnas, which is targeted to the younger audience. The national epic has been a source of inspiration to many artists, including author J.R.R Tolkien and why not, the book holds a lot from the mythical Sampo, magic mill producing wealth, to shaman singing spells.

Kalevala begins with birth of the world. Ilmatar, the Goddess of the air, comes down from the sky to swim in the ocean. She becomes pregnant by the air and water, but the pregnancy is long, and she keeps on swimming for years. One day a sea bird lands on her knee and lays six eggs; five golden and one iron egg. While the bird is incubating, the eggs become hot and Ilmatar moves her leg from the pain. The eggs fall out of the nest and break in the water. The pieces form the earth, sky, the sun, moon, and the clouds. Ilmatar continues the creation process of the world while waiting for her child to be born. Finally, Väinämöinen – son of Ilmatar, the Goddess – decides to be born. Already from birth, he knew how to read spells and sing – he was destined to be a great, wise man.

Kalevala the Musical

Kalevala the Musical is written and composed by Johanna Telander. This New York based production is inspired by the magical story of Kalevala.

Telander’s version follows two children roaming in the enchanted forest of Kalevala. In their adventures they meet all the known characters like Väinämöinen, Louhi, Joukahainen, and Aino. The musical entwines the beauty of creation, the harshness of destruction; questioning human emotions and what are we really willing to do and sacrifice to get what we want. Kalevala the Musical combines different styles of music, including ethereal pop, folk, jazz and world music.

The concept album is currently being recorded in Los Angeles, New York, Finland, and London and will be released in August 2021. Finlandia Foundation New York Chapter is organizing a fundraiser event to support the production of the musical.

Be part of the Kalevala Journey

The virtual Kalevala event is organized Wednesday June 23rd 2021, 7 pm- 8pm. Tickets are $25/person and during the event the participants will:

  • Get an exclusive look behind the making of Kalevala the Musical’s album
  • Hear a mini concert
  • Have the opportunity to discuss with the composer

“ It is so that mind is settled,
brain has thought idea fettled,
ballad shortly I’ll be singing…”

Become part of the Kalevala journey, support the production and get your ticket today!