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5 August 1868|
17 February 1924 (aged 55)|
He was the son of Frans Ferdinand Kanto from Jalasjärvi, Southern Ostrobothnia. Frans got a Swedish-language 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.
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.
His son Aarre Merikanto is one of the most notable Finnish composers.
He wrote vocal music in German, Swedish and Finnish. It includes