“We all know what a crack chorus the Providence Singers has become.”



 







Leevi Madetoja (1887–1947), considered to be one of the most significant Finnish composers to emerge in the wake of Jean Sibelius, under whom he studied privately from 1908 to 1910.
Ca. 1920s; photographer unknown

Leevi Madetoja

Ei mitään multa puutu  (1911)

“When thinking about Madetoja’s art, two things spring immediately to mind: the poem is always at the forefront, with the composer’s skill behind it.”

— Heikki Klemetti

Although few audiences outside Scandinavia are broadly acquainted with his work, Leevi Madetoja was one of Finland’s best known composers in the generation that followed Jean Sibelius. Madetoja made contributions on several fronts: as composer (symphonies, operas, piano, small ensembles, voice, chorus), music critic, orchestral and choral conductor, editor of an important musical journal, university music professor, and as a musical folklorist, gathering Finnish folk music and using it in his own compositions.

Madetoja did not come to music at an early age. Growing up, his main instrument was the Kantele, a traditional dulcimer-like Finnish instrument. He played some piano and violin and sang in a chorus, but began serious musical studies only after his school years. He attended the Helsinki Music Institute and the University of Helsinki, studying composition and, for two years, studying with Sibelius himself. He was well acquainted with the work of Finnish poets, past and contemporary.

After finishing at the university, he traveled to Berlin, Vienna and Paris, returning to Helsinki to earn his Master of Arts. In addition to his three symphonies, two operas and other major works, Madetoja produced an extensive body of work for chorus. He was, in fact, Finland’s most prolific composer for mixed chorus, although choral music in the Finnish language found limited exposure to international choruses and audiences.

Ei mitään multa puutu (O nothing do I want for) is a hymn text written by Simo Korpela (1863–1936), a poet and priest in the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church. Korpela produced about 900 poems in his life; nearly 150 of them were set by composers, including Madetoja and Sibelius. Ei mitään multa puutu is a two-verse hymn based on the Twenty-Third Psalm.

Madetoja composed Ei mitään multa puutu almost on the spur of the moment. In the summer of 1911, he and Heikki Klemetti, the composer and founding conductor of the famous Suomen Laulu choir, were on a journey to Klemetti’s hometown to gather Finnish spiritual folk tunes for a new hymnal. They had hoped to meet Elias Tallari, one of the last surviving traditional musicians of the region, but arrived in town as Tallari’s casket was being pushed to church on a wooden cart. At his friend’s suggestion, Madetoja quickly composed a setting for Korpela’s hymn verses in a traditional folk style. A quartet — Madetoja, Klemetti, and Klemetti’s wife and daughter — performed Ei mitään multa puutu at the funeral on Sunday morning.

Klemetti published Ei mitään multa puutu in the 1911 Christmas issue of the musical journal Säveletär, and Suomen Laulu performed it in December of that year. The piece was also performed at Madetoja’s own funeral and at the funerals of Finland’s first two presidents.


Ei mitään multa puutu  Op. 30b/2
Text by Simo Korpela (1863–1936)

Ei mitään multa puutu
kun Herra paimentaa
kun mulle kaikki tarpeet
Hän aina lahjoittaa.
Ja niityt viheriöivät
Hän etsii laumalleen
Luo veden virvoittavan
vie janoon uupuneen.

Siis sydämestä laulan:
on Herra paimenen
ja ilomeilin kuljen
nyt häntä seuraten.
Hyvyys ja laupeus aina
mun tietän’ noudattaa.
Mä hänen huoneessansa
saan ijät asustaa.

O nothing do I want for
when Jesus leads my way
and all I need to live by
He gives to me each day.
In pastures fresh and verdant
He leads His wand’ring sheep
by sweet refreshing waters
they quench their thirst and sleep.

O from the heart I sing now:
The Lord my Shepherd leads,
and joyfully I follow
and of His mercy feed.
His goodness and His mercy
shall be my guiding light.
His house shall be my dwelling
forever in His sight.