Jukka Harju, a Finnish horn player, made his debut as a soloist at the age of 11, performing at the European Broadcasting Union’s concert in Dublin. His remarkable talent quickly caught the attention of leading Finnish orchestras, as well as the Gustav Mahler and EU Youth Orchestras, both under the baton of Claudio Abbado.
Harju achieved success in numerous international music competitions, including a victory at the Lieksa International Horn Competition, which led to his nomination as the Brass Player of the Year in Finland in 2006. Two years later, he secured the position of principal horn in the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, he has served as a guest principal horn with renowned orchestras such as l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bamberger Symphoniker, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
As a horn soloist, Harju has not only performed the essential horn repertoire but also concertos by composers like György Ligeti. A significant highlight was the collaboration with Oliver Knussen, where Harju had the privilege of playing Knussen’s own Horn Concerto under the baton of the composer himself, which remained one of Knussen’s final performances before his passing.
Harju premiered Wolfgang Plagge’s and York Bowen’s concertos in Finland and has given world premieres of works written specifically for him, including Kirmo Lintinen’s Concertino (2008), Aulis Sallinen’s Five Female Portraits for Horn, Soprano, and Orchestra (2013), and Osmo Tapio Räihälä’s Horn Concerto (2016). Harju’s recording of Pehr Henrik Nordgren’s Concerto was nominated for Best Classical Recording in Finland in 2018.
In addition to his performance career, Harju is a respected teacher at the Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki. He is widely known for his expertise and sought-after master classes. He has also showcased his talents as a chamber musician and recitalist around the world. Furthermore, Harju pursues composing and holds a degree as a film director.