Armas Järnefelt

Song of the Scarlet Flower,

full score to the 1919 film

Gävle Symphony Orchestra
Jaakko Kuusisto, conductor



Sleeve notes in English

2 CDs

January 2019

Catalogue No.:
ODE 1328-2D


Track listing

CD 1 48:37
Armas Järnefelt (1869-1958)
Song of the Scarlet Flower, full score to the 1919 film 48:37
1 1 Chapter I: The first flush of spring 11:30
2 2 Chapter II: The mother’s glance 17:26
3 3 Chapter III: Learning life 17:24

CD 2 52:54
Armas Järnefelt (1869-1958)
Song of the Scarlet Flower, full score to the 1919 film 52:54
1 1 Chapter IV: A young man’s daring-do 9:02
2 2 Chapter V: Kyllikki 15:20
3 3 Chapter VI: In the town 17:05
4 4 Chapter VII: The Pilgrimage 11:02

Complete description

This release includes the world première recording of the full orchestral score written by Armas Järnefelt’s (1869–1958) to Mauritz Stiller’s silent film Song of the Crimson Flower (1919) performed by Gävle Symphony Orchestra under Jaakko Kuusisto.


Armas Järnefelt – today largely known in music literature only as Sibelius’ brother-in-law – became one of the most remarkable Finnish orchestral composers during the 1890s. The composer wrote several symphonic poems and orchestral suites in his young age which were highly successful and widely performed by various orchestras in his home country. However, for reasons unknown, Järnefelt decided to devote himself to conducting. In the years to follow, Järnefelt moved to Sweden and become a highly-esteemed conductor. Some of Järnefelt’s miniatures became hits for salon orchestras in Europe, such as his Berceuse, but this recording makes more justice to a largely forgotten Nordic composer.


In 1919, Finnish-born film director Mauritz Stiller approached Armas Järnefelt and commissioned him to write an orchestral score for his silent film ‘Song of the Scarlet Flower’ (Sången om den eldröda blomman), based on a novel by Finnish author Johannes Linnankoski. Järnefelt made great efforts for the project and as a result, wrote a large 100-minute orchestral score. The work can be considered as his final orchestral masterpiece and a pioneer work in film music. The film was a huge hit and went on to be screened in more than 40 countries in addition to Sweden. It was also the first ever Nordic feature-length film to have a full-length original score written for it.


Järnefelt’s score was lost for a long time, although he did conduct a recording of extracts from the score in 1931. In the 1980s the original score was rediscovered among the possessions of Järnefelt’s relatives. Järnefelt’s score was augmented and restored by Jani Kyllönen and Jaakko Kuusisto for the present recording. Järnefelt’s manuscript and the orchestral parts from the original performance were used as source materials. The score as restored by Kyllönen and Kuusisto was first performed under Jaakko Kuusisto at a screening of the film at the Oulu Music Festival in March 2017.


The Gävle Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1912, has a long and exciting history. The orchestra has since its inception played an obvious and significant role in the Swedish music scene and its 52 musicians are driven by an undeniable and heartfelt passion for music. The orchestra takes on a repertoire ranging from the baroque to the latest contemporary music. Through a series of acclaimed CD recordings, the Gävle Symphony Orchestra has also brought many older Swedish composers into the limelight and given them well-deserved recognition. Since 2013, Gävle Symphony Orchestra has enjoyed a fruitful musical partnership with principal conductor Jaime Martín, but the orchestra has also collaborated regularly with renowned international conductors and soloists such as Leif Segerstam, Isabelle van Keulen, François Leleux, Gabriela Montero and many others. Gävle Symphony Orchestra has also started a collaboration with the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir.


Conductor, composer and violinist Jaakko Kuusisto enjoys an extensive career that was launched by a series of successes in international violin competitions in the 1990s. Kuusisto’s conducting repertoire is versatile and ranges from baroque to the latest new works, regardless of genre. He has worked with many leading orchestras, including Minnesota Orchestra; Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras; National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa; NDR Hannover, DeFilharmonie in Belgium; Chamber Orchestras of Tallinn and Lausanne; Helsinki, Turku and Tampere Philharmonic Orchestras; Lahti Symphony Orchestra as well as the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. He works regularly in opera as well; in 2016 he orchestrated and conducted Indigo at the Finnish National Opera, a work written by Eicca Toppinen and Perttu Kivilaakso of Apocalyptica. Kuusisto has been appointed Chief Conductor of the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, starting August 2018. Kuusisto’s compositions consist of nearly 40 opuses: chamber and vocal music, orchestral pieces, operas, as well as music for films. His Violin Concerto, written for Elina Vähälä, has become an international success with performances by, among others, the Minnesota, Detroit and Singapore orchestras.