Many neglected women composers are getting there due at long last, but few with as distinctive a voice as Helvi Leiviskä. Born in Helsinki in 1902, she studied with Finnish composers Erkki Melartin and Leevi Madetoja. She was a music teacher and, from 1933, librarian at the Sibelius Academy, dying in Helsinki at the age of 80.

None of Leiviskä’s music has been recorded before but now, thanks to the tireless efforts of Dalia Stasevska, Chief Conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, we can discover a symphonic output that turns out to be revelatory. Clive Paget caught up with Stasevska to learn more about a remarkable Finnish composer.

You’re Finnish. Growing up, did you know of Helvi Leiviskä’s and her music?

No, to be honest. I discovered her music by accident, four years ago when I was putting together an Independence Day concert with Anu Komsi, a fantastic Finnish soprano. I said to Anu that I wanted to go through Finnish music history and at some point, she suggested we do some Kaija Saariaho. I said, “How is it possible that she is the first and only female composer that Finland has? There must be something else.” So, I start...