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Veijo Baltzar

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Veijo Baltzar



Veijo Baltzar Interview with Roma author Veijo Baltzar quotI grew up in

Towards Experiential Philosophy

Surujen kitara (Johnny Guitar) by Veijo Baltzar

Cultural Counsellor Veijo Oskari Baltzar is a world-leading Romani author, who was born in a wandering Gipsy family in 1942 near Kuopio in middle Finland.


Veijo Baltzar Kulkijamustalaisena kasvanut kirjailija Veijo Baltzar

Veijo Baltzar is an author and allrounder of culture. He has done a life's work for the Roma people through his cultural and social activity. Veijo Baltzar is also a poet, theatre director, playwright, visual artist, performing artist, pedagogue, scientist and a social activist. Baltzar’s artistic production comprises over 72 literary works, including novels, short stories, plays and musicals, an award-winning film, librettos and TV screenplays. He is a respected and well-known cultural persona and opinion leader in Finland, who is proud of his cultural roots.

Veijo Baltzar Keit nykyn ristiinnaulitaan Veijo Baltzar Vihre Lanka

Veijo Baltzar's childhood was extremely poor but very rich socially and spiritually. His roots were strongly in Rautalampi, an old parish, where his ancestors had arrived in the 15th century. Veijo Baltzar is proud of his ethnicity and identity. He has lived in a close connection with the majority through his human relationships and work. Strong Roma identity and deep knowledge on the culture of the majority have opened him strong and critical views on both worlds.

Veijo Baltzar Veijo Baltzar SDP Vaalikone Eduskuntavaalit 2015 Yle


Veijo Baltzar httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Baltzar began writing at young age. In his twenties, he fled hunger and travelled to Helsinki, the growing capital of Finland. Soon the young talent was noticed and people began to call him a novelist, all though none of his texts had been published. His first novel Polttava tie, The Burning Road (1968, Brännande väg published in Swedish 1969) was a big success and a sensation. It was the first book ever in Finland that was written about the Roma and their culture, seen through the eyes of a Roma. The Burning Road is a novel about travelling, traditions and confrontations with the majority.

Verikihlat, The Engagement of Blood (1969) is a story about love, hate and blood revenge. In Mari (1972) Baltzar discusses women and their position inside the tribe. Mythic novel Käärmeenkäräjäkivi (1988) was a nominee for a respected Finlandia Literary award. Musta tango, The Black Tango (1990) tells about Gypsies in modern Finnish society, after they moved to the suburbs. Baltzar has also written a novel for children about Gypsies (Mustan Saaran kristallipallo, The Crystal Ball of Black Sarah) in 1978. Phuro, published in 2000, is an extensive epic novel about the Roma living in Central Europe, the saga of a family, which tells a tale of the community through that of the relatives. The latest novel by Veijo Baltzar, In love and war, published in 2008, tells about the tragic faith of European Roma in the middle of Second World War. All Baltzar’s novels have been published by Tammi, one of the largest book publisher companies in Finland.


Veijo Baltzar has also been active in theatre and playwriting. He has written tens of plays, most of them focusing on Roma, but there are also plays about myths, religion and war. He was the founder of the first and only Roma theatre in Nordic countries, Drom Theatre in 1976. In 1981 Drom won the Theatre Action of the Year – prize. In the beginning of the 1980’s, Baltzar worked as a leading teacher in the Theatre Academy of Finland. In that position he was able to make Roma theatre known among majority and also get more appreciation to the culture of the Roma by showing the diversity and richness of the Roma tradition. Baltzar wrote and directed tens of tragedies, poetic plays and musicals to the group.

In 1990s Baltzar continued playwriting and directing, as well taught t in many municipal and state institutions. In the Student theatre of Kuopio was performed his play the Paradise of Gods where Baltzar received the culture award of the city. In Imatra, he wrote and directed a folk opera Orli with 200 actors 1994-1997. The project became a folk movement. The premiere of so-called "second" Orli, patronaged by Finland's Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, took place in the Finlandia concert hall in Helsinki Mar 1997. Currently Veijo Baltzar runs his own theatre at the premises of historical Alexander theatre “Integration Theatre Baltzar” which produces annually new theatrical and music productions.

Pedagogical work

When Baltzar started managing his own theatre and teaching / directing at 1976, he created his own pedagogical method based on multicultural emotional intelligence, currently known as Intercultural Experiential Education. Chancellor of Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture Anita Lehikoinen stated in 2011 Baltzar’s pedagogical methods to be a potential Finnish product of export. In 2012, Baltzar published a polemic work Towards Experiential Philosophy (Kokemuspohjainen filosofia), in which he introduces his pedagogical method and its philosophical and educational background. The book was published in English in 2014.

Social activity

In 2002, in order to strengthen the position of Romani literature world widely, Baltzar founded the International Roma Writers Association (IRWA) and was elected as its president.

Veijo Baltzar was active in promoting Roma policies in Finland since 1965. He has been involved also in Finnish politics and cooperates regularly with the leading politicians of Finnish society and other countries. During the past decades he has been known as a significant opinion leader in issues of multicultural society.

In 2014, Veijo Baltzar organized an international minister-level The Conscience of Europe conference at the Finnish Parliament on 18–19 March 2014. The conference critically addressed the issues of multicultural society in Europe. The conference issued 24-item set of proposals for law initiatives by Veijo Baltzar for reforming European policies of multiculturalism, and they were sent to European Commission.

Visual artist

Veijo Baltzar has done visual arts since the late 1960’s. His works were presented at the exhibition for young artists in Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki in 1975. Since then Baltzar has had numerous exhibitions in different parts of Finland, Sweden and Czech Republic. Since 1980s Baltzar has done also architectural design.


Novels by Veijo Baltzar (Tammi publishers):

  • In Love and War (Sodassa ja rakkaudessa) (2008)
  • Phuro (2000)
  • The Black Tango (Musta tango) (1990)
  • The Snake Trial Stone (Käärmeenkäräjäkivi) (1988)
  • The Chrystall Ball of the Black Sara (Mustan Saaran kristallipallo) (1978)
  • Mari (Mari) (1972)
  • The Engagement of Blood (Verikihlat) (1969)
  • The Burning Road (Polttava tie) (1968)
  • Plays by Veijo Baltzar (written and directed)

    Whole night plays

    1981 The Black Scourge (Musta ruoska). Roma theatre Drom.

    1982 The Hungry Cranes (Nälkäkurjet). Drom Theatre.

    1980 The Crystal Ball of Black Sarah. A play for children. Performed in theatre Green Apple in Helsinki.

    1983 I’ll Forge Stone to Be a Horse (Taon kivestä hevosen). Drom Theatre. Performed at the International Theatre Festival 22.–26.11.1985, Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg.

    1984 Iron Nights (Rautayöt). Drom Theatre.

    1986 Iron Horses (Rautaratsut). Drom Theatre.

    1991 The God Is Great (Jumala on suuri). Passion play. 1993

    1992 The Paradise of Gods (Jumalten Paratiisi). Kuopio Student Theatre.

    1993 Backyard Carmen (Takapihan Carmen) 1993. Kuopio Student Theatre.

    1993 The Gang (Jengi)

    1993 The Dance (Tanssi)

    1993 I Will Not Leave My Friend (Kaveria ei jätetä).

    1996 The Forest of Women (Naisten metsä).

    1997 Love and Mary (Rakkauteni Maria) Oratory.


    1997 ORLI, Folk opera. Premiere at the Imatra Cultural Center 1995. The second version premiered in March 1997 at Finlandia Hall, Helsinki.

    2004 The Paradise of Gods (Jumalten Paratiisi).

    2009 BOTOX.

    2011 The God is Great (Jumala on Suuri).

    2014 With the Seven-String Guitar. Gipsy cabaret. Premiere at the Alexander Theatre, Helsinki

    2016 Sin. A musical play. Premiere at the Alexander Theatre, Helsinki

    Poetic plays

    1979 Muistan eläneeni (Remembrance of my life). Theatre Baltzar

    1982 Tie (The Road). Drom.

    1983 Yön kulkijat (Wanderers of the night), Theatre Drom

    1983 Punainen hevonen (The Red Horse). Drom.

    1985 Mustat kiharat (Black Curls). Drom.

    2005 Mustalaisrunoteatteri (Gipsy Poetry Theatre).


    2012 “Sny” (Dreams). Prague’s National Theatre, Nova Scena

    Prizes and awards

    1980 1st prize in the Golden Harp – competition, Dublin for the manuscript of short movie Punainen puutarha (the Red Garden)

    1981 The theatre action of the year. Awarded by Finnish Theatre Center

    1992 The Art award of the Province of Kuopio

    1991 The Culture award of county Rautalampi

    1999 The 3rd prize in the international “Amico Rom” - competition. Italy

    2000 The 2nd prize in the international “Amico Rom” - competition. Italy

    2002 Arvo Turtiainen literature prize

    2008 Mikael Agricola medal celebrating 40-year literary career. Helsinki, Tammi publishers

    2011 An honorary title of Cultural Counsellor, kulttuurineuvos, granted by the President of Finland Tarja Halonen

    2016 Finalist and honorable mention (international recognition for 50-year activity for the benefit of European Roma), European Roma Spirit Award (ERSA). Bratislava, Slovakia

    2017 Artist pension, granted by Arts Promotion Centre Finland as recognition for meritious artistic activity

    Veijo baltzar at miranda exhibition s opening in museum of occupations tallinn 11th may 2017


    Veijo Baltzar Wikipedia