Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, voted the world’s greatest living composer in a 2019 survey by BBC Music Magazine, has died aged 70 of brain cancer.
Her ‘sinuously alluring’ music was acclaimed for its sparkling beauty – meditative, mystical and complex, often informed by the sound of the wind, footsteps in the snow or the rush of waves. She wrote concertos as well as opera scores.
Her opera Innocence, based around the legacy of a school shooting, won plaudits when it came to Covent Garden, described by a reviewer as “a piece of modern music-drama worthy to stand in the rich tradition that stretches from Monteverdi to Britten and beyond” and “a truly great opera for our troubled times”.
She was born 14 October 1952 in Helsinki and was a sickly child, often left alone listening to music. She had a Libra Sun conjunct Saturn and Neptune square Uranus – hard-working, creative, idealistic, and could be nervy and obsessive. Her Neptune square Uranus would give her an inventive streak. Her charming Venus in Scorpio opposed Jupiter in indulgent Taurus and squared onto a controlling and influential Pluto. Her lack of self-worth from Saturn was balanced out by a confident and determined Jupiter Pluto.
Her leaving-a-legacy-for-posterity 17th harmonic is strong.[Putin’s original birth date is only a week earlier but that puts his Mars in a ruthless trine to his Pluto. He also picks up the negative side of Sun Saturn Neptune which can be suspicious and neurotic. And houses will make all the difference.]
One of her other operas La Passion de Simone (2006) recounted the life of the French philosopher Simone Weil, who supposedly starved herself to death in an English hospital in 1943 aged 34. Like Saariaho, Simone Weil had been a sickly child and campaigned constantly for a fairer society which may have rung a bell with the composer since her Saturn Neptune is also tuned into creating social improvements.
Simone Weil, 3 February 1909 5am Paris, France, was a Sun Aquarius on one leg of a yod sextile Mars inconjunct Neptune Moon in Cancer – emotionally sensitive to an extreme degree. Her Mars was also in a fearful, frustrated opposition to Pluto. And like Saariaho, Weil had highly-strung Neptune Uranus aspects, in her case in opposition and tied into her Moon and Venus.
Another musical icon gone.