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Finney, Theodore M(itchell)

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Finney, Theodore M(itchell)

(b Fayette, IA, 14 March 1902; d Pittsburgh, 19 May 1978). American musicologist, brother of Ross Lee Finney. He studied with Donald Ferguson at the University of Minnesota (BA 1924), in Berlin at the Stern Conservatory and the university (1927–8) and at the University of Pittsburgh (LittM 1938). After serving on the staff of Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota (1925–32), he was supervisor of music for the public schools of Council Bluffs, Iowa (1933–6), subsequently being appointed professor and chairman of the department of music at the University of Pittsburgh. He retired in 1968 and became curator of the Warrington Collection of Hymnology at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. His career covered a wide range of musical interests: performance, scholarship, music education and librarianship. As a violinist he was a member of the Minneapolis SO (1923–5), and he was also active as a choral conductor. He wrote several music history and music appreciation textbooks, and from 1939 to 1950 he edited the Proceedings of the Music Teachers' National Association.


A History of Music (New York and London, 1935, 2/1947/R)

Hearing Music (New York, 1941)

We have Made Music (Pittsburgh, 1955)

A Union Catalogue of Music and Books on Music Printed before 1801 in Pittsburgh Libraries (Pittsburgh, 1959, 2/1963, suppl. 1964)

‘A Manuscript Collection of English Restoration Anthems’, JAMS, xv (1962), 193–9

‘The Oratorio and Cantata Market: Britain, Germany, America c.1830–c.1910’, Choral Music: a Symposium, ed. A. Jacobs (Harmondsworth, 1963/R), 217–30

‘The Third Edition of Tuft's Introduction to the Art of Singing Psalm-Tunes’, JRME, xiv (1966), 163–70

‘A Group of English Manuscript Volumes at the University of Pittsburgh’, Essays in Musicology in Honor of Dragan Plamenac, ed. G. Reese and R.J. Snow (Pittsburgh, 1969/R), 21–48

ed.: J. Warrington: Short Titles of Books, Relating to or Illustrating the History and Practice of Psalmody in the United States, 1620–1820 (Pittsburgh, 1970)


Finnish Musicological Society.

Finnish organization. Founded in 1916, its activities centre on publishing and the organization of national congresses, including the International Sibelius Congress, held every four years. The society publishes the quarterly periodical Musiikki and a series of Finnish musicological dissertations, Acta Musicologica Fennica, several of which have been translated into English.

Finnissy, Michael (Peter)

(b Tulse Hill, London, 17 March 1946). English composer and pianist. He was a foundation scholar at the RCM (1965–8) where he studied composition with Stevens and Searle and piano with Edwin Benbow and Ian Lake, followed by composition study in Italy with Vlad. He created the music department of the London School of Contemporary Dance, has taught at the Dartington Summer School, Winchester College, Chelsea College of Art and the University of Sussex, and was musician-in-residence to the Victoria College of the Arts, Caulfield, Australia (1982–3). From 1990 to 1996 he was president of the ISCM. He is currently professor of composition at the RAM and at Southampton University.

As an accomplished pianist associated with the virtuoso solo repertory from Liszt to Xenakis, it is hardly surprising that the course of Finnissy's own creative development has been punctuated by significant piano works, as well as by hundreds of occasional pieces. The piano, for Finnissy, fulfils the gamut from sketch pad to full orchestra – from the brief yet expressive Short but … (1979) to the solo piano accompaniment to his second opera, Thérèse Raquin (1992–3). English Country-Tunes (1977), an epic nine-movement cycle, established Finnissy internationally as a voice of originality and distinction, and this has been followed by further large-scale statements for piano such as the Folklore cycle, as well as substantial sets of piano transcriptions: the Verdi Transcriptions (1972–95), Gershwin Arrangements (1975–88) and More Gershwin (1989–90).

These works attest the eclectic nature of Finnissy's musical imagination. He draws overtly on a wealth of musical sources, both in order to invigorate his own work, and to challenge contemporary audiences into re-evaluating their own musical heritages. Music by composers as disparate as Carver and Brahms, Purcell and the Strauss family, has all found its way into his works. More especially, following the example of Grainger, he is fascinated by the traditional music of many of the world's cultures. Folklore (1993–4) works explicitly with this material, treating a melody such as the negro spiritual Deep River in a variety of different ways, eventually absorbing it entirely into his own musical vocabulary. Speak Its Name! (1996) begins with a kaleidoscope of over a hundred diverse folk melodies, all playing at the same time. By contrast, English Country-Tunes does not quote actual folktunes but expresses Finnissy's ambiguous attitude to his own history by inventing a lyrical ‘English’ pastoralism, which it then destroys. In all these cases, the presence of folk or folk-derived material symbolizes both some kind of ‘innocent’, ‘original’ response to music-making and the possibility of its corruption or obliteration in the modern world.

Politics – often a polemical kind – is central to Finnissy's work. Like Ives, an important precursor and influence, he believes that all music is, in some sense, ‘programmatic’, that is, it exists in a cultural context, it reflects the concerns of the composer and his or her culture, and it can be a genuine force for change. Hence his interest in folk music (which is never ‘abstract’); hence his increasingly overt espousal of gay themes in works such as Unknown Ground (1989–90), Shameful Vice (1994–5) and Seventeen Immortal Homosexual Poets (part of The History of Photography in Sound, 1997–); hence his Christian works, such as Anima Christi (1991) and The Liturgy of St Paul (1991–5); and hence his active commitment as a pianist playing and commissioning new work from young composers, and as a distinguished teacher at all levels.

The breadth of expressive intentions of Finnissy's music is achieved through a correspondingly wide range of musical devices, from pseudo-plainchant melodies and simple accompaniments to densely layered textures, microtonal harmony and intricate rhythmic notation. Rarely is a single work concerned only with one kind of music: English Country-Tunes contains both manic Totentanz and simple, decorated monody; Speak its Name! moves from multiple, simultaneous melodic fragments to a unison tune. His music can manifest a profound violence – as many of the works from the 1970s demonstrate – as well as a contemplative spirituality, as can be heard in much of his music from the 1990s. Finnissy's music rarely fails to court controversy. He is often aligned with other exponents of the so-called ‘new complexity’, though it is a label he rejects because, he argues, even the ‘simplest’ music can be ‘complex’ – hence his continuing commitment to music for amateurs and children, e.g. East London Heys (1985–6) and Wee Saw Footprints (1986–90). Underlying these changing stylistic surfaces, however, is a consistent response to his varied musical materials: the ‘complex’ proliferation of detail out of something essentially ‘simple’, and an overriding concern for drama and directness of expression, equally evident in his grandest public statements – The Undivine Comedy (1985–8) and the primordial Red Earth (1987–8) – and in his smallest piano miniatures. Finnissy's is undeniably a unique and forthright voice in 20th-century British music.




Finnissy, Michael



music theatre unless otherwise stated

Alice: version A, db, 1974–5, France, 26 March 1976, version B, vc, c1975, perf. Netherlands, version C, vc, perc, c1975, Buffalo, NY, 15 Oct 1976; Mysteries 1–8 (Finnissy, after Towneley and other mystery plays, Lat., old Eng., Gaelic texts), 1972–9, perf. various; Circle, Chorus and Formal Act (Finnissy, after trad. Eng.), 1973, London, The Place, 5 June 1973; Commedia dell’incomprehensibilie potere che alcune donne hanno sugli uomini (Finnissy, anon. early Eng.), 1973–5, Netherlands, 30 June 1977; Medea, 1973–6; Orfeo (Ovid), 1974–5; Bouffe (for a person alone on stage), 1975, Hereford, 23 Aug 1986; Tom Fool's Wooing (Ibycus, E. Spenser, trad. Eng., Rom., Turkish, Gk. texts), 1975–8; Mr Punch (Finnissy, after trad. 18th- and 19th-century texts), 1976–7, rev. 1979, cond. P.M. Davies, London, Queen Elizabeth Hall, 8 Feb 1978 [first version]; Ohi! Ohi! Ohi!, 1978, London, Purcell Room, 21 Jan 1982; Vaudeville (W. Whitman, nursery rhymes, H.M. Milner, G. Cooper, P. Calderón de la Barca), 1983, rev. 1987, cond. R. Bernas, Vale of Glamorgan Festival, 30 Aug 1983 [first version]; The Undivine Comedy (op, 17 scenes, Finnissy, after Z. Krasinsky, F. Hölderlin, de Sade), 1985–8, rev. 1995, cond. Finnissy, Paris, Théâtre de la Bastille, 14 May 1988; Dust in the Road (TV score), 1986–8, BBC TV, 6 Dec 1992; Thérèse Raquin (op, Finnissy, after E. Zola), 1992–3, rev. 1997, Bury St Edmunds, 1 Oct 1993; Shameful Vice (op, 14 scenes, Finnissy, after letters and diaries of Tchaikovsky), 1994–5, Blackheath, 28 March 1995


Orch: Song no.2, no.4, no.10, c1962–73; Pf Conc. no.1, pf, chbr orch, 1975, rev. 1983–4; Offshore, 1975–6; Pf Conc. no.2, pf, 2 a fl, str, 1975–6; Pathways of Sun and Stars, 1976; Alongside, chbr orch, 1979; Sea and Sky, 1979–80; East London Heys, str, 1985–6, version for str qt; Red Earth, 2 didjeridus, orch, 1987–8; Eph-phatha, 1988–9; Glad Day, 2 rec, 2 tpt, org, theorbo/hp, str, 1994; Speak its Name!, 1996; see solo vocal [Song no.3, 1962–73, World, 1968–74]

Chbr: Song no.6, fl, ob, hpd, vc, c1962–73; As when upon a trancèd summer night, 2 perc, pf, 3 vc, 1966, rev. 1968; Afar, fl, eng hn, 3 tpt, perc, cel, 1966–7; Untitled piece to honour Igor Stravinsky, fl/(fl, hp, va), 1967, rev. 1971; Song no.2, 2 fl, 2 ob, 2 cl, 2 bn, hn, 2 tpt, 3 vc, 1968, version for S, pf; Song no.4, 2 pf, 2 fl, 2 ob, 2 bn, 2 tpt, 3 vc, 1968; Transformations of the Vampire, cl, vn, va, 3 perc, 1968–71; n, 1–4 players, 1969, rev. 1972; Alice III, vc, perc/silent actor, 1970–75; Song no.10, pic, ob, eng hn, 2 cl, dbn, pf, elec org, 2 vc, 1971; Evening, a sax, hn, tpt, perc, hp, vc, db, 1974; Lost Lands, cl, s sax, pf, gui, vn, 1977; Pf Conc. no.3, pf, ob, cl, 2 trbn, vc, db, 1978; Kagami-Jishi, fl, hp, 1979; Pavasiya, ob, ob d’amore, 1979; Pf Conc. no.5, pf, Mez, fl, ob, vib, 1980; Nobody's Jig, str qt, 1980–81; Jisei, vc, fl, ob, perc, pf, va, 1981; Keroiylu, ob, bn, pf, 1981; Pf Conc. no.7, pf, wind qnt, 1981; Aijal, fl, ob, perc, 1982; Banumbirr, fl, cl, pf, vn, vc, 1982, rev. 1986; Dilok, ob, perc, 1982; Independence Quadrilles, pf, vn, vc, 1982, rev. 1982, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1995; Mississippi Hornpipes, pf, vn, 1982, rev. 1997; Teangi, 11 insts, 1982; Ouraa, 11 insts, 1982–3; Australian Sea Shanties, set 3, 3/4 rec, 1983; Câtana, 9 insts, 1984; Delal, ob d’amore, perc, 1984, rev. 1988; Str Qt, 1984; ‘above earth's shadow…’, vn, 6 insts, 1985; Contretänze, fl, ob, cl, perc, vn, vc, 1985, rev. 1986; Str Trio, 1986; Quabara, didjeridu, perc, 1988; Obrecht Motetten I, 9 insts, 1988–9; Obrecht Motetten II, mand, gui, hp, 1988; Nowhere else to go, cl, tpt, vc, synth, perc, elecs, 1989; Obrecht Motetten III, va, 12 insts, 1989; Obrecht Mottetten IV, brass qnt, 1990; Kulamen Dilan, s sax, perc, 1990; In Stiller Nacht, pf trio, 1990, rev. 1996–7; WAM, pf, tr obbl inst, b obbl inst, 1990–1; Obrecht Motetten V, fl, 3 s sax, 3 tpt, 3 trbn, pf, db, 1991–2; Various Nations (19th-century children's book: A Peep at Various Nations of the World), nar, fl, cl, hn, perc, gui, vn, vc, 1992; Mars and Venus, 14 insts, 1993; Plain Harmony, 1st version: any insts, 2nd version: str qt, 1993; Quelle, sax qt, 1994; Traum des Sängers, cl, gui, vib, vn, va, vc, db, 1994; Sefauchi's Return, fl, ob, cl, pf, 1994; Violet, Slingsby, Guy and Lionel, tuba qt, 1995–6; Different Things, cl qt, 1996; Selected Movements of Great Masters, sax qt, 1996; Recent Britain, cl, bn, vc, pf, cond., tape, 1997

Pf (solo unless otherwise stated): 10 Tangos, 1962–96; Song no.5, 1966–7; Romeo and Juliet are Drowning, 1967, rev. 1973; Song no.8, 1967; Strauss-Walzer, 1967, rev. 1989; Song no.6, 1968, rev. 1996; Song no.9, 1968; Song no.7, 1968–9; Autumnall, 1968–71; Freightrain Bruise, 1972, rev. 1980; Snowdrift, 1972; Verdi Transcriptions, 1972–95; Ives, 1974; Wild Flowers, 2 pf, 1974; Gershwin Arrangements, 1975–88; Jazz, 1976; all.fall.down, 1977; 3 Dukes Went A-Riding, 1977, rev. 1996; English Country-Tunes, 1977, rev. 1982–5; Kemp's Morris, 1978; To & Fro, 1978, rev. 1995; We'll get there someday, 1978; Fast Dances, Slow Dances, 1978–9; Pf Conc. no.4, 1978–80, rev. 1996; Grainger, 1979; Short but …, 1979; Nancarrow, 1979–80; Boogie-Woogie, 1980, rev. 1981, 1985, 1996; Liz, 1980–1; Pf Conc. no.6, 1980–1; Reels, 1980–1, rev. 1981; Free Setting, 1981, rev. 1995; White Rain, 1981; Hikkai, 1982–3; Australian Sea Shanties, Set 2, 1983; G.F.H./B.S., 1985–6; Taja, 1986; Wee Saw Footprints, 1986–90; Lylyly li, 1988–9; Pimmel, 1988–9; Stanley Stokes, East Street 1836, 1989, rev. 1994; More Gershwin, 1989–90; Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man, 1990; De toutes flours, 1990; My Love Is Like a Red Red Rose, 1990; New Perspectives on Old Complexity, 1990, rev. 1992; Sometimes I …, 1990; Two of us, 1990; William Billings, 1990; Cibavit eos, 1991; French Piano, 1991; How dear to me, 1991; Rossini, 1991; Vanèn, 1991; Willow Willow, 1991; Cozy Fanny's Tootsies, 1992; John Cage, 1992; 9 Romantics, 1992; A solis ortus cardine, 1992; Wenn wir in höchsten Nöthen sind, 1992; … desde que naçe, 1993; The larger heart, the kindlier hand, 1993; ‘What the meadow-flowers tell me’, 1993; Folklore, I–IV, 1993–4; Yvaroperas, 1993–5; Elephant, 1994; Violet, Slingsby, Guy and Lionel, 1994–6; Ethel Smyth, 1995; Georghi Tutev, 1996; his voice/was then/here waiting, 2 pf, 1996; Honky Blues, 1996; Meeting is pleasure, parting a grief, 1996; Tracey and Snowy in Köln, 1996; Tu me dirais, 1996; History of Photography in Sound, 1997–

Other solo inst: Song no.11, b cl, c1962–73; First Sign a Sharp White Moon, as If the Cause of Snow, a fl, 1968, rev. 1975; Alice I, db, 1970–75; Alice II, vc, 1970–75; Song no.13, vn, 1971; Song no.12, b cl, 1972–3; Ru Tchou (The Ascent of the Sun), drummer, 1975; Song. no.17, gui, 1976; Song no.18, db, 1976; Doves Figary, vc, 1976–7; All the trees they are so high, vn, 1977; Runnin' Wild, ob/sax/cl/b cl, 1978; Hinomi, perc, 1979; Sikangnuqa, fl, 1979; Moon's going down, ob/sax/b cl/1v, 1980; Andimironnai, vc, 1981; Stomp, pf accdn, 1981; Terekkeme, hpd/pf, 1981, rev. 1990; Yalli, vc, 1981; Gerhana, perc, 1981–2; Cirit, cl, 1982; Marrngu, E-cl, 1982; Sepevi, db, 1982–3; Ulpirra, b fl, 1982–3; The Eureka Flag, pic, 1983; Uzandara, cl, 1983; Obrecht Motetten III, va, 1989; Ének, vn, 1990; 2 Scenes from Shameful Vice, hp, 1995 [based on op]


Cipriano (P. Calderón de la Barca), T, 9vv, SATB, 1974; Australian Sea Shanties, set 1 (trad.), SAB, 1983; Ngano (trad. Venda), Mez, T, double SATB, fl, 2 perc, 1983–4; Haiyim (Hebrew), SATB, 2 vc, 1984; Maldon (Finnissy, after anon. Anglo-Saxon: The Battle of Maldon), Bar, SATB, 2 trbn, 2 perc, org, 1990; Anima Christi (Medieval Lat. poem), Ct/C, SATB, org, 1991; 7 Sacred Motets, SATB/4 solo vv, 1991; The Cry of the Prophet Zephaniah, Bar, TB, 2 tpt, 2 trbn, 2 vc, 1992; Vertue (G. Herbert), SA, pf, 1993; Golden Sleep (Homer: Iliad, trans. A. Pope), T, Bar, SATB, 1996

solo vocal

2 or more vv: Jeanne d'Arc, high S, T, 15 insts, 1967–71; World (Miaskovsky, Hölderlin, A. Rimbaud, W. Blake, A. Tennyson, G. Hopkins, Dante), high S, S, Mez, T, Bar, B, orch, 1968–74; Tsuru-Kame (Kineya Rokuzaemon X), S, 3 female vv, fl, 2 perc, cel, va, opt. 3 dancers, 1971–3; Kelir (trad. Javanese), 2 S, C, T, Bar, B, 1981; Soda Fountain, S, Mez, C, T, 1983; Celi (Hildegard of Bingen), 2 S, fl, ob, trbn, perc, db, 1984; Liturgy of St Paul (Lat. mass, Eusebius, Bible: Acts), Ct, 2 T, Bar, org, 1991–5

1v: Song no.3, S, small orch, c1962–73; Le dormeur du val (Rimbaud), Mez, 7 insts, 1963–4, rev. 1966, 1968; From the Revelations of St John the Divine, high S, fl, 2 vn, 2 va, 2 vc, 1965, rev. 1970; Horrorzone (T. Tasso), S, fl, eng hn, vib, pf, 1965–6, rev. 1971, 1987; Song no.1 (Tasso), S, 1966, rev. 1969–70; Song no.3 (A. Blok), S, eng hn, hn, pf, elec org, 1969; Folk Song Set (Finnissy, after trad. Eng.), 1v, (eng hn, cl, flugelhorn, perc, str qnt)/(fl, cl, pf, str trio)/(fl, ob/eng hn, pf, perc), 1969–70, rev. 1975–6; Song no.11, S, cl, 1969–71; Irma Cortez, Bar, bn, perc, accdn, pf, hp, vn, db, 1970–71, rev. 1996; Babylon, Mez, ob, cl, a sax, bn, gui, hp, pf, 2 perc, 2 vc, db, 1971; Song no.14, S, 1974; Song no.15, S, 1974; Song no.16, S, 1976; Mine Eye Awake (W. Shakespeare), S, pf, 1977; Goro (Kineya Rokuzaemon X), T, a fl, cl, hp, str trio, 1978; Mountainfall, Mez, 1978; Sir Tristran (Malory, Beroul, T. d'Angleterre, M. de France), S, cl, vn, va, vc, pf, 1978; … Fairest noonday … (Hölderlin), T, pf, 1979; Green Bushes (Finnissy, after Eng. trad.), C, pf, 1980; Lord Melbourne, S, cl, pf, 1980; Duru-Duru (Sardinian trad.), Mez, fl, perc, pf, 1981; Anninnia (Sardinian trad.), S, pf, 1981–2; Warara (Aboriginal circumcision ritual), S, fl, cl, perc, vn, vc, 1982; Lyrics and Limericks, 1v, pf, 1982–4; Botany Bay (Australian trad.), Mez, fl, ob/cl, 1983, rev. 1989; Cabaret Vert (Rom. trad.), Mez, fl, eng hn, perc, 1985; Beuk o'Newcassel Sangs, S, cl, pf, 1988; Judith Weir: Songs from the Exotic (On the Rocks) (4 songs, trad. Serb., Sp., Gael.), S, cl, pf, 1989; Unknown Ground (various texts), Bar, pf trio, 1989–90; Same as We (J. Joyce: Finnegans Wake), 1st version: S, tape, 2nd version: Mez, a fl, cimb, 1990; The Cambridge Codex (Medieval anon.), S, fl, 2 bells, vn, vc, 1991; 2 Motets, Ct, gui, 1991; 3 Motets, 2 Interludes, S, str trio, 1991; Blessed be (Bible: Matthew), 1st version: S, pf, db, 1992, 2nd version: T, fl, hn, gui, hp, vc, 1995, 3rd version: S, rec, pf, 1996; Silver Morning (A.E. Housman), T/Bar, pf trio, 1993; Sehnsucht, Mez, cel, hpd, pf, str qt, db, 1997; see also Chbr [Pf Conc. no.5, 1980], Other solo inst [Moon's going down, 1980]


Principal publishers: Edition Modern, OUP, United Music Publishers, Universal

Finnissy, Michael


A. Clements: ‘Finnissy's “Undivine Comedy”’, MT, cxxix (1988), 330–32

R. Toop: ‘Four Facets of the “New Complexity”’, Contact, no.32 (1988), 4–50

L. Williams: ‘Finnissy's “Undivine Comedy”’, Opera, xxxix (1988), 679–82

J. Cross: ‘The Repertoire Guide: Michael Finnissy’, Classical Music (26 Jan 1991)

R. Barrett: ‘Michael Finnissy: an Overview’, CMR, xiii/1 (1995), 23–43

B. Ferneyhough: ‘The Piano Music of Michael Finnissy’, Brian Ferneyhough: Collected Writings, ed. J. Boros and R. Toop (Amsterdam, 1995)

L. Williams: ‘Reinstating the “Spiritual Quest”’, CMR, xiii/1 (1995), 45–63

J. Cross: ‘Vive la différence’, MT, cxxxvii (1996), 7–13

I. Pace: ‘The Panorama of Michael Finnissy: I’, Tempo, no.196 (1996), 25–35; no.201 (1997), 7–16

H. Brougham, C. Fox and I. Pace, eds.: Uncommon Ground: the Music of Michael Finnissy (Aldershot, 1997)

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