Walfrid Kujala

Wally Kujala - photo by J. Roob

Walfrid Kujala joined the Chicago Symphony under Fritz Reiner in 1954 as assistant principal flute, and in 1958 became principal piccolo. He was also principal flute of the Grant Park Symphony from 1955 to 1960. In 1962 he was appointed to the Northwestern University faculty as professor of flute. He had previously been a member of the Rochester Philharmonic from 1948 to 1954, and taught at the Eastman School of Music where he had received his BM and MM degrees and studied flute with Joseph Mariano. His previous teacher had been Parker Taylor. He has been a soloist with the Chicago Symphony under Sir Georg Solti, Fritz Reiner, Antonio Janigro, Seiji Ozawa, Lawrence Foster and George Schick and has also appeared as soloist at the Stratford and Victoria Festivals in Canada. As a 60th birthday present, his students and colleagues commissioned a flute concerto for him from Gunther Schuller in 1985, and the premiere was given by Kujala and the Chicago Symphony conducted by Sir Georg Solti in October, 1988. He later performed the Schuller concerto with the Spokane Symphony under the composer's direction at the Sand Point Festival in Idaho, with the Rochester Philharmonic conducted by Robert Spano, and with the Northwestern University Symphony under Victor Yampolsky. In 1990 he gave the American premiere of the flute concerto by Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara at the National Flute Association convention in Minneapolis. Kujala is a past president of the NFA and was a recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. He is the author of several textbooks including The Flutist's Progress, The Articulate Flutist, Orchestral Techniques for Flute and Piccolo, and The Flutist's Vade Mecum of Scales, Arpeggios, Trills and Fingering Technique, which was a 1996 winner of the Newly Published Music Competition of the NFA. The newly expanded second edition of the Vade Mecum was released in 2012.  Kujala is a contributing editor for Flute Talk, and was a visiting professor of flute at the Eastman School of Music from 1973 to 1975 and at the Shepherd School of Music of Rice University from 1995 to 1997, and he received the 2007 Cultural Leadership Award from the Illinois Council of Orchestras.  He retired from the Chicago Symphony in 2001, and in 2012 became professor emeritus at Northwestern University.