Snap Music


Snap Music is the winner of the 2019 Teosto Prize.


For orchestra


15 min.


3333/4331/14/1, piano, strings


Commissioned by
Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE


Premiered by
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Hannu Lintu
Dec 6 2018
Music Centre, Helsinki, Finland

The piece is inspired by the English word ’snap’ and its close to 90 meanings when translated into Finnish language – to crack, to click, to bounce, to flash, to slam… The musical material, gestures and characters of the work are evolved from these, right down to the details.

”And then I just snapped.”

In terms of dramaturgy and emotion, the piece follows the psychological concept of ”snapping”, i.e. psychologically loosing control of oneself. A series of events in which gradually accumulated emotions have developed into a chaos of the mind finally culminates in complete loss of control. What happens when the sense of control vanishes and all that remains is dizzy emptiness?

Although the underlying idea behind the piece is the psychological, long-span process and forward motion, there are also episodes based on the idea of ’snaps’ in the sense of musical extracts. These manifest as types of textures made up of short extracts following one another in a flashing manner while creating abrupt musical cuts.

My aim in the orchestration was to utilize the wide-ranging potential of the orchestra fully. The sonorities vary from rich and expansive to small and delicate; there are both dense, multilayered textures taking use of the full orchestra and comments or solos by individual instruments and small groups. The orchestra goes through a journey of its own, the instrumentation reflecting the underlying emotional process of snapping – emotions that vary from, e.g. light to heavy, control to the lack thereof, and emptiness to chaos.

Past Performances

Dec 6 2018
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Hannu Lintu
Music Centre, Helsinki, Finland

Sheet Music

Schott Music
Schott Music GmbH & Co. KG
Weihergarten 5
55116 Mainz
+49 6131 246-0

Press Quotes

“Snap Music demonstrated why Lintu and FRSO are considered a brilliant contemporary music team – and why Hilli has been poured with praise and honor. Already the first minutes built up a multi-layered, rich work. Psychological snapping, the straw that broke the camel’s back or ”flipping”, according to modern-day anglicism, was the dramaturgical-emotional backbone of the work, which was transmitted not only in its arc, but also in subtle, even subconscious archaic affects, concentration-absorbing thrilling atmosphere and repeated motives fleeting precise perception. The fight between order and chaos was high-level orchestration and astonishing knowledge of sonorities and extended playing techniques.”
Santeri Kaipiainen, Rondo, Dec 07 2018

“[…] The end result was convincing. I hope that Snap Music will not end up like many other new works: that they are performed once and forgotten.
Snap Music has a clear direction that moves forward through fragments. Rhythmically, it is skillful, and the FRSO made this well audible.
Hilli has said he listens to free jazz and at the end of the piece, the wind section resembled a big band. However, at the first hearing, the most impressive was the beginning of the work, related to the description of the loss of psychological control and the subsequent emptiness: a chaotic flicker, then a silent string mat with occasional slams and clicks. An identifiable mindset. […]
The talk of absolute music should have been stopped long ago. Music can – and it must – talk about the world as well. Hilli talked. About music, through music and outside the music.”

Sonja Saarikoski, Helsingin Sanomat, Dec 07 2018


The premiere of Snap Music, performed by Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hannu Lintu: