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14. Throw out the mothballs!

In the 1960s, the economy grew apace. Leisure time increased: Finns now got Saturdays off as well as their long summer holiday. Almost every household had a car. Foreign tourists arrived in increasing numbers, but found little more than natural beauty and summer somnolence. Finland was in wraps.

This drowsiness did not suit the zesty spirit of the Sixties. Many felt that something more dynamic was called for, and post-war modernization was completed: the mothballs were thrown out and Finland was dragged into a new age. Whereas the ‘50s generation had kept at arm’ length from politics, the new politicized generation invoked the support of the people, demonstrated and sang.

A particular source of amusement for this generation was whenever it succeeded in provoking some ‘reactionary’ figure. A real treasure in this respect was the ‘strong man’ of the Jyväskylä Summer Festival, Päivö Oksala, professor of Classical literature. He played his conservative role with the flair of a born actor, pulling out the microphone cables or darkening the whole auditorium when the blasphemy went beyond his endurance. The media loved him.

The leaders of the country, President Urho Kekkonen above all, realized what a useful tool the new political radicalism could be turned into. And so it happened that what divided nations elsewhere united Finland.  The open wounds of the civil war were healed.

The overhaul in music education was less dramatic but even more effective: numerous new music institutes and conservatories sprang up throughout Finland in the course of the ‘60s, many in small towns. Music education was vigorously decentralized, and the fruits of this work have gradually matured. The results look good.

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