The Devil’s Lungs (original Finnish title Pirun keuhkot) is technically one of the most difficult pieces in the accordion repertoire. Written for accordionist Veli Kujala in 2005, Virtaperko’s first accordion piece The Devil’s Lungs was the start of the long-term collaboration between Virtaperko and Kujala, which has so far resulted in four solo pieces, one duo and one double concerto.
The program note by the composer describes The Devil’s Lungs as follows: “The Devil’s Lungs was inspired by the fact that up until very recent times accordion as an instrument used to be considered ”promiscuous” in religious, god-fearing Finland. With its strong connections to secular folk and dance music, accordion presented without any questions a dangerous weapon for the Devil. The instument carried unsuitable and seductive charisma with itself; in fact, certain parishes don’t allow accordion to be played in a church even today.
However, for a secular, preset day composer accordion is just an instrument – a very interesting one with lots of fasinating musical and technical possibilities – but still, it’s just a mecanical apparatus controlled by a man. I was amused (and amazed) by the idea that for someone accordion could have held that much power that it was raised in a position of ”a demonic tool”. Thus, I fantazied a piece, where this ”musical Devil” really speaks out through the bellows of an accordion.
That’s what The Devil’s Lungs is about. It is a shameless virtuoso piece, composed to bring some joy to apathetic and distressing Lutherian world. It is a piece of music that exists purely for entertaining, stimulating and seductive purposes.”
for concert accordion
Veli Kujala a day before the premiere of The Devi’l Lungs, October 2005.
The Devil’s Lungs, performed by Veli Kujala 12 December 2005
Concert recording by Yle Broadcasting Company; used with permission
24 October 2005, Veli Kujala, Härnosand, Sweden
All past performances of The Devil’s Lungs
12 December 2005 Veli Kujala, Sibelius Academy Concert Hall, Helsinki, Finland
24 February 2006 Veli Kujala, Ikaalinen, Finland
14 May 2006, Veli Kujala, Universität der Künste, Berlin, Germany
10 May 2007 Veli Kujala, Finnstituten, Berlin, Germany
11 May 2007 Veli Kujala, Greifswal Nordischer Klang Festival, Germany
31 August 2007 Veli Kujala, Nordic Music Days, Norrköping, Sweden
16 September 2007 Veli Kujala, St. Petersburg, Russia
4 November 2007 Veli Kujala, Serlachius Museum “Gustaf”, Mänttä, Finland
27 November 2007 Niko Kumpuvaara, London, UK
4 February 2008 Niko Kumpuvaara, Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki, Finland
4 March 2008 Niko Kumpuvaara, Lapinjärvi, Finland
10 August 2010 Veli Kujala, St. Catharine’s Church, Hamburg, Germany
4 September 2010 Sergej Tchirkov, MCME Academy, Tchaikovsky (city), Russia
11 November 2010 Janne Valkeajoki, Vilnus, Lithuania
14 November 2010 Janne Valkeajoki, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland
21 November 2010 Janne Valkeajoki, Pori, Finland
23 November 2010 Janne Valkeajoki, Tallin Music Academy, Estonia
6 December 2010 Janne Valkeajoki, Arrasate, Spain
11 April 2013 Ari Lehtonen, Camerata Hall of Musiikkitalo, Helsinki, Finland