Finnish conductor Paavo Berglund (14 April 1929 – 25 January 2012) frequently conducted the music of his fellow-countryman Jean Sibelius. Paavo Berglund also had a wide repertoire and made many recordings.
Paavo Berglund's major conducting posts were with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philhamonic and Royal Danish Orchestra. He was also Prinicipal Guest Conductor of the Scottish National Orchestra and a frequent guest condcutor with the Russian National Orchestra.
Having started his musical life as a violinist – left handed, he joined the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1949. He founded the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra and started conducting. In 1956 he was appointed Associate Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, becoming their chief conductor in 1962.
Paavo Berglund recorded the the Sibelius symphony cycle three times, the one for Finlandia Records with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He sometimes courted controversy with his re-touching of orchestral parts; as he said in a Gramophone interview in October 1978 "Sibelius was a superb orchestrator, but right up to the very end he made strange dynamics which I find I have to change. In the Second Symphony you don't have to alter so much, but funnily enough there is a lot that needs altering in the Seventh Symphony … My attitude was "Wen treu" which in German means roughly 'be true to the work". His passionate approach to the score brought him admiration from fellow Finns such as Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Osmo Vänskä, as well as from one of the UK's finest Sibelians, Sir Simon Rattle.
Among Berglund's last recordings were two sets with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe that allowed the ensemble's size to bring a transparency to the sound – the symphonies of Brahms (Ondine) and his third Sibelius symphony cycle (Finlandia). In his Gramophone review of the Sibelius (October 1998), Andrew Achenbach wrote 'all Sibelians should try to hear this Finlandia set, which I guarantee will stimulate and intrigue in abundance.'