Finnish pianist Olli Mustonen began his studies at the keyboard at the tender age of five; his first teacher was the eminent pianist Ralf Gothoni. Beginning at the age of seven, Mustonen studied composition with one of Finland's most prominent voices in contemporary music, Einojuhani Rautavaara, and Mustonen shares with his compatriot Esa-Pekka Salonen a dichotomy; outside of Finland, Mustonen is more highly regarded as an interpreter of music, whereas within Finland compositions make his name. Mustonen is a conductor and co-founder of the Helsinki Festival Orchestra; he also leads the Tapiola Sinfonietta with some regularity and acts as the music director of the Turku Music Festival. In 1991 he signed a contract with Decca Records in the U.K. and recorded Shostakovich's Preludes, Op. 34, with Alkan's Preludes, Op. 31. While the disc won the prestigious Gramophone Award in 1992 for Best Instrumental Performance, Mustonen did not wind up recording extensively with Decca and mainly records for the Finnish label Ondine. He is a well-known fixture on the concert circuit nonetheless, and is particularly active in Europe and Australia. One of his lasting musical relationships is with Rodion Shchedrin, who dedicated his Piano Concerto No. 5 to Mustonen.
Schott International publishes Mustonen's original music; his early Toccata for piano, string quartet, and double bass (1989) initially established his reputation. Since then he has written Three Mysteries for orchestra (2003), several concerted works, a few works for the piano, and many pieces for the cello. In interpreting the cello works, Mustonen has enjoyed partnerships with cellists Steven Isserlis and Daniel Müller-Schott. The Helsinki Philharmonic commissioned his first symphony, Tuuri, for a 2012 premier and a second one, Johannes Angelos, for the following season.