The legendary Ossi Runne has died at the age of 93. His family announced that the veteran musician, producer and Eurovision conductor passed away on November 5th.

Ossi Runne was born Yrjö Osvald Rundberg in Viilpuri, Finland, on 27 April 1927. He was only nine years old when he changed his name to Ossi Runne, and was clearly destined for great things. He started his career as a very skilled trumpeter. In 1944 at the age of 17, when Finland was in the grasp of the Nazi invasion, Ossi wanted to cheer his fellow country men and women up, and founded the Ossi Runne Quintet. From there on, he was a member of various bands, both as a leading musician as well as an ordinary member.

He first got the position as a conductor for the Chinese Variety Orchestra in Stockholm in the early 50s, but resigned from that post at the age of 20 and moved back to Finland. There he became a studio manager for the Muzikki-Fazer company in Helsinki, where he spent the next 8 years of his career.

Ossi was subsequently recruited by Yleisradio to become the head conductor of the National Radio Orchestra. And only a year later, in 1966, Ossi conducted his first Eurovision entry for Finland, the song “Playboy”, which he also co-composed. It was performed by Ann-Christine Nyström and came tenth out of 18 songs that night, scoring 7 points.

From there on, Ossi Runne became a prominent fixture in Finland’s Eurovision history, and conducted a whopping 22 entries. His last one was the 1989 entry “La Dolce Vita”, performed by Anneli Saaristo in Lausanne. This gave Finland one of its best results to date by securing a solid top ten placing and coming seventh out of 22 entries.

Despite subsequently retiring from his conductor duties regarding the contest, Ossi wasn’t quite done with Eurovision just yet. He was Yleisradio’s commentator the following year, having previously done the job back in 1981. Ossi continued to lead the National Radio Orchestra until retiring fully in 1992.

Ossi Runne had a stellar career from 1944-2003, with his last job being the band director for the Karelia Wind Band.

Ossi also published his auto-biography in 2003, called Trumpetilla ja tahtipuikolla, or With a trumpet and a baton in English. As to be expected, the book is packed with fun stories, especially regarding his time at Eurovision.

A musician, a producer, a composer, a band leader and a conductor. Ossi did it all, and did it with a warm smile on his face.

A legend has gone and we send our love to his family. Rest in peace, Ossi Runne.

Do you have fond memories of Ossie Runne and the songs he conducted at Eurovision? Feel free to celebrate his legacy below.

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Christian
Christian
15 days ago

Rest in peace for one of the longest-lasting faces in Eurovision history

Finnish
Finnish
17 days ago

Truly a big name in finnish Eurovision history

Joe
Joe
17 days ago

A true legend. He and Noel Kelehan put in the most hours behind the podium, and while they each had their own unique styles (Noel very reserved, only using small movements; Ossi broader and more focused on getting to the emotion of the song), they were both incredible. It’s fun to look back on songs he conducted and seeing him enthusiastically leading the orchestra, equally committed no matter what he thought of the song. A class act, and a great conductor. He will be very missed.

Jonas
Jonas
17 days ago

Sad. A life well lived.

stommie
stommie
17 days ago

Together with Noel Kelehan and Richard Oesterreicher probably the most well known conductor for the people who watched eurovision in the eighties and nineties.

Joe
Joe
17 days ago
Reply to  stommie

I’d also add Ronnie Hazlehurst, Harry van Hoof, Eduardo Leiva, Charis Andreadis, and one of either Curt-Eric Holmquist or Anders Berglund (depending on the year). That was The Squad, as it were.