Jorma Panula (10 August 1930 in Kauhajoki) is a Finnish conductor, composer, and professor of conducting.
Panula is a graduate of the Sibelius Academy, where he studied the organ, church music and conducting. His teachers have included Leo Funtek, Dean Dixon, Albert Wolff and Franco Ferrara.
After his studies at the Sibelius Academy, Panula worked as the artistic director and chief conductor of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra (1963–1965), the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (1965–1972), and the Århus Symphony Orchestra (1973–1976). He has also conducted his own opera Jaakko Ilkka at the Finnish National Opera.
Jorma Panula has served as Professor of Conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. He has had great influence on the world of conducting through his teaching.He has been called “the maestro of the maestros” and “hidden hand” behind the extraordinary succession of fine conductors that came out of Finland. His students include Esa-Pekka Salonen (“There is no other teacher of conducting who is as remarkable as Panula”), Mikko Franck, Sakari Oramo, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and Osmo Vänskä. John Storgårds, Susanna Mälkki, Pietari Inkinen, Atso Almila, Sasha Mäkilä, Ricardo Chiavetta, Hannu Lintu, Olari Elts, Mikk Murdvee and Ari Rasilainen have also studied under Panula’s guidance, among many others. Most students around the world rehearse conducting only with a pianist. At the Sibelius Academy, after seeing how the Soviet conservatories work, Panula founded the Conductor’s Symphony Orchestra for his students, because “a conductor cannot rehearse without an orchestra!”.
Panula has given conducting courses all over the world, including Paris, London, Amsterdam, Moscow, New York, Tanglewood, Aspen, Ottawa and Sydney, though he has limited his podium appearances greatly during past years. Apart from conducting, Panula has composed a wide variety of music, including operas, musicals, church music, a violin concerto, jazz, and numerous pieces of vocal music.
Panula was awarded the Rolf Schock Prize in 1997.