The Finnish architecture is mostly known for its modernist era. Alvar Aalto is probably the most famous Finnish architect. He is often considered to be the most influential of Finnish modernists. Other notable figure of Finnish modernism was Aarne Ervi. The buildings in Turku’s University Hill are of his design during 1956-1959. From architects outside of modernist school the most internationally known are Eliel Saarinen and Eero Saarinen. Both were born in Finland but did their most known work in the Unites States.
Albert Edelfelt, Hugo Simberg, Helene Schjerfbeck and Akseli Gallen-Kallela are famous Finnish painters who are also known internationally. They were all active during the Golden Age of Finnish national romantic art, spanning some five decades from 1870 to 1920. Wäinö Aaltonen, born in Turku, is also a well-known sculptor who begun his career in the 1920s doing national romantic sculpts. He later experimented cubism and is these days considered to be one of the major Finnish sculptors. Of still living artist one of the most known is Kaj Stenvall. His career really started in 1989 when he started doing stylistic paintings of ‘a very familiar looking duck’. The Disney’s ever popular ducks are usually considered to be the inspiration of Stenvall’s work.
Most of Finnish design’s top products are found in the areas of furniture and glass items. The Aalto Vase, also known as the Savoy Vase is probably the most internationally known product of Finnish Design. Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino Aalto co-designed this masterpiece of glass in 1936. Of the more recent well known pieces we can mention e.g. the Block Lamp (1996) by Harri Koskinen. The Block Lamp has been part of MoMa’s collection since 2000.
Finnish design has had a healthy run through the 20th century and the works of e.g. Kaj Franck, Nessi Hovi, Maija Isola, Sanna Kantola, Kalle Kuusela, Stefan Lindfors, Gunnel Nyman, Armi Ratia, Hanna Sarén, Timo Sarpaneva, Nanny Still, Paola Suhonen, Helena Tynell and Björn Weckström are all worth seeing.
Important filmmakers include Mika and Aki Kaurismäki, Dome Karukoski and Renny Harlin. Aki Kaurismäki was awarded the Grand Prix at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival for the film "The Man without a Past". More recent and popular films include Iron Sky (2012) and "The Flight Before Christmas" (Niko - Lentäjän poika, 2008)
Software engineer Linus Torvalds was the developer of Linux operating systems for computers. Nokia was the world's largest vendor of mobile phones from 1998 to 2012.
Angry Birds by Rovio Entertainment
The Finnish national epic Kalevala has gained worldwide renown. Kalevala partly even inspired the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In fact, J.R.R Tolkien studied Finnish so that he could read Kalevala in its original language. So far Kalevala has been translated into 60 different languages, which makes it the most translated Finnish literary work in history.
The Finnish view of world is nicely presented in literary form in the works of e.g. Elias Lönnrot (Kalevala), Aleksis Kivi (the Seven Brothers), Juhani Aho (Railway) and Väinö Linna (the Unknown Soldier). Each one of the mentioned also depict a different era of Finnish history and its transitional stages.
Finnish poetry classically has two names over the others: Finland’s national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg (who wrote in Swedish) and Eino Leino (who wrote in Finnish).Runeberg’s poem Maamme/Vårt Land provided the lyrics for the National anthem of Finland. Leino’s poems have also been converted to musical forms by many of Finland’s most celebrated composers. Of more modern poets internationally known are e.g. Paavo Haavikko, Pentti Saarikoski and Arto Melleri.
Other Internationally known Finnish writers and novelists include F. E. Sillanpää (Nobel prize winner in 1939), Mika Waltari, Arto Paasilinna, Volter Kilpi, Märta Tikkanen, Minna Canth, Bo Carpelan, Sofi Oksanen, Leena Lehtolainen and Tove Jansson, the creator of Moomins.
Jean Sibelius is probably the best known Finn throughout history of music. His compositions have been played in concert halls all over the world. Other important composers are Joonas Kokkonen, Aulis Sallinen, Oskar Merikanto, Toivo Kuula, Leevi Madetoja, Erik Bergman, Osmo Vänskä, Einojuhani Rautavaara and Kaija Saariaho. Of Finnish conductors, internationally known are Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mikko Franck, Susanna Mälkki, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Leif Segerstam. Famous Finnish opera singers include Jorma Hynninen, Karita Mattila, Soile Isokoski and Tommi Hakala. Both Mattila and Hakala have won the BBC Singer of the World in Cardiff.
Rock and heavy metal is very popular in Finland. Some famous artists include e.g. Amorphis, Apocalyptica and Children of Bodom.Other famous representatives of Finnish pop and rock music are for example The Rasmus, Sunrise Avenue, Nightwish. The Finnish hard rock band Lordi won the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest with a record 292 points, giving Finland its first ever victory, Hard Rock Hallelujah.
Within Finnish sports, the most legendary person is Paavo Nurmi, a famous long distance runner. This original “Flying Finn” dominated middle and long distance running in the 1920’s, winning nine gold and three silver Olympic medals, and setting altogether 25 world records. In Turku, his home town, there is a statue of him close to the crossing of Hämeenkatu and Kaskenkatu. There is also a sports stadium named after him, Paavo Nurmi Stadium.
Finland is known for motor sports. Famous Finnish Formula 1 drivers are Mika Häkkinen, Kimi Räikkönen, Heikki Kovalainen and Valtteri Bottas and rally drivers Tommi Mäkinen, Hannu Mikkola, Juha Kankkunen, Timo Mäkinen, Marcus Grönholm, Markku Alén, Ari Vatanen, Timo Salonen, Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala.
Finnish football players such as Jari Litmanen, Sami Hyypiä, Niklas Moisander (Turku), Mikael Forssell and Teemu Pukki among some others are also well known in the European fields. Local football teams are FC Inter and FC TPS and you may see these teams at Kupittaa Veritas Stadion.
Ice hockey is often regarded as Finland’s national sport. Finland has won the ice hockey world championships in 1995 and 2011 and practically the whole nation joined the celebrations with Leijonat (The Lions). Famous ice hockey players at NHL are Saku Koivu, Mikko Koivu, Teemu Selänne, Jari Kurri, Olli Jokinen, Tuomo and Jarkko Ruutu, Kimmo Timonen etc.
Leijonat (The Lions).
The local ice-hockey team of Turku is called Turun Palloseura (TPS), and they play their home games at Turkuhalli (www.hkareena.fi) and league Mestis at lower level Turun Toverit (TuTo Hockey) plays at Kupittaa, see http://www.tutohockey.fi.
Finland’s official national sport is a type of baseball (pesäpallo/boboll) that is especially popular in the central and northern parts of the country.
Floorball, also known as sähly, salibandy or innebandy in Swedish is a popular sport especially in the Nordic countries.