Jonne Valtonen is reticent to list his latest musical achievements. Since he finds the modern definition of success somewhat questionable, Valtonen’s focus is on the journey and being the best he can.
“Success to me is to keep on working and writing pieces that orchestras want to play,” he explains.
Valtonen was recently commissioned by Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra to create 100 minutes of spectacular music for Mauritz Stiller’s critically acclaimed 1919 silent film Song of the Scarlet Flower. The orchestra played Valtonen’s score in spring 2019, and it is a composition he holds dear due to the richness of musical elements it encompasses. Based on the novel Laulu tulipunaisesta kukasta by the Finnish author Johannes Linnankoski, Song of the Scarlet Flower showcases Finland’s rich logging tradition. It tells the story of a charming woodsman, who in search of true love, drifts from one girl to the next until he reaches maturity.
“This project has been the highlight of my year. It took seven months to write the music while aiming for maximum quality. It’s one of those works that transcended into something bigger than what I had originally envisioned,” he explains.
Now famous for composing the music for the grand opening of the Moomin Museum and winning the Pirkanmaa Arts award, Valtonen, who is originally from Turku, found a home, study place and a fertile environment for expressing his creativity in Tampere. He arrived in the city with high aspirations to build on his solid background as a popular demoscene musician.
Way ahead of his time, Valtonen was already studying classical piano at the age of eight. During his teenage years, he composed electronic demos on his home computer and won several awards. Ultimately, he created music for Future Crew and became their lead composer under the pseudonym Purple Motion, a name chosen as a tribute to his favourite progressive rock band, Deep Purple.
Despite everything he had achieved, Valtonen was aware of his technical deficiencies when he applied to TAMK’s Music Academy.
“I couldn’t have done what I’m doing nowadays without the studies, not at the same level anyway. I had studied composition on my own, and because it was not pedagogically laid out, I was missing a lot on technique,” he notes.
He rates the studies as “fabulous” mainly due to having the freedom to experiment while being safely guided by teachers who shared his enthusiasm. He studied classical composition under Hannu Pohjannoro and attended masterclasses by Jouni Kaipainen, Magnus Lindberg, Michael Nyman and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
In a low-context culture that favours humbleness over status and personal ambitions, Valtonen stands out as a high-achiever unafraid to dream big.
“I was in my twenties when I wrote a note to self: If you want to be a composer, don’t study any other profession, because then you won’t become a composer. I’m pretty sure I was surrounded by people who didn’t settle for less either,” he says.
He trained his mind to set a realistic time frame for his goal and promised himself to stick to it.
“Becoming a composer takes a long time, perhaps ten to thirty years. I set my goal there and not for the next day,” Valtonen explains.
He says a YouTube video of Jim Carrey giving a speech on taking chances inspired him. In the video, Carrey states “you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
“Now in my forties, I can say I’m thrilled with where I am, even though it’s taken me a long time to get here. I’ve lived a purposeful life,” Valtonen says.