Oskar Merikanto(5 August 1868, Helsinki – 17 February 1924) was a Finnish musician and composer.
He was the son of Frans Ferdinand Kanto from Jalasjärvi, who got a Swedish surname, Mattsson, when he joined the Finnish army. He changed the name in 1882. Meri means "sea" and refers to his voyage from Vaasa to Helsinki; Kanto refers to his origins from the estate Kanto in the Finnish-speaking area of Ostrobothnia.
He studied for some time at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany, where his teachers were Carl Reinecke, Theodor Coccius, Robert Papperitz, Willy Rechenberg and Gustav Schreck.
He was notable for his variety of talents – he gave concerts all around Finland, performing on the piano and organ, conducting orchestras, and composing original music. Some of his most beloved compositions are Där björkarna susa, and the waltz Kesäillan valssi (Summernight's Waltz).
Merikanto's style reminded Finnish folk songs, but it had its basis in Italian bel canto.
He died in Hausjärvi-Oitti.
His son Aarre Merikanto is one of the most notable Finnish composers.
- Romanssi, Op. 12
- Pohjan neiti (Maiden of the North) (1898)
- Nälkämaan laulu (The Song of the Hungry) (1911)
- various pieces for organ, including "Wedding Hymn"
He wrote vocal music in German, Swedish and Finnish. It includes
- Rote Blumen
- An den Frühling / Keväälle
- Ström' leise / Oi, tyynny, sa virta
- Wehmut / Alakuloisuus
- Till Dig
- Ma Elän
- Rukous (Ave Maria)
- Pai, pai, paitaressu