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Options March 9, 2012: M.A.Numminen Sings Wittgenstein

M.A. NUMMINEN SINGS WITTGENSTEIN

Mauri Antero Numminen was born in Somero on March 12, 1940. At the age of fourteen he became interested in jazz and used to listen to it played on the radio by the Voice of America. Around the same time he also started playing the drums. Viisi Vierasta Miestä ('Five Friendly Fellows') was M.A. Numminen's first own band. He not only listened to jazz, but was also interested in classical music, and later especially in modern concert music. Stockhausen, Arnold Schönberg and Edgar Varese were among his favourites, just to mention a few. Just like M.A. Numminen, the famous Finnish tango composer Unto Mononen also lived in Somero. Incidentally, M.A. Numminen was sometimes seen playing drums in Unto Mononen's orchestra. They played not only tango music but also contemporary hits as well as dance music in general.

In 1960 M.A. Numminen moved to Helsinki to study economics and political science at the University of Helsinki. Shortly afterwards he changed majors, and concentrated in sociology, philosophy, and linguistics instead. He also studied Finno-Ugric languages, folk poetry, Inuit and Bantu languages as well as astronomy. Numminen wanted to become a sociolinguist but things turned out differently: after eight years of studies he concluded that he was "nothing but a poor troubadour", after a popular Finnish tune. While at the university, Numminen studied the slang spoken in Helsinki. Slang, however, was not an acceptable subject of academic study at the time, and Numminen's interviews and tapes were left untouched for years. Only as late as in the 1990's Numminen was finally able to hand over his tapes to Prof. Heikki Paunonen, who was then compiling a new, extensive dictionary of slang. In his own thesis Numminen studied the dialect of Somerniemi.



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