Cornets & Pickaxes

Northeastern Minnesota Book Award Recipient

The new book Cornets & Pickaxes: Finnish Brass on the Iron Range, by Paul Niemisto was released in June 2013.

Send orders,  inquiries, and comments to author Paul <>, or mail Paul Niemisto, 608 Zanmiller Dr W, Northfield , MN 55057. Retail Price $25, plus $5 postage. Call 507-645-7554.

C&P also available from the Finnish Wind Band Society (SPOL) website


Also available at North Wind Books:, New World Finn On Line Bookstore,  St. Olaf College Bookstore (, Minnesota History Center Bookstore, several Northern States bookstores, and on Amazon.


“Cornets & Pickaxes is rich, rare, illuminating, and triumphant fanfare to the remarkable musical communities of “ordinary” Finnish Americans, painstakingly yet exuberantly created from interviews, photographs, newspaper accounts, sheet music, reminiscences, and other mostly ephemeral sources that would have eluded a less dedicated and able researcher.”

James P. Leary
Birgit Baldwin Professor of Scandinavian Studies
Director, Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures
University of Wisconsin-Madison


“ I am one of the newer Finnish musicians in Minnesota. But we can look back more than a century to when hundreds of us came here to play in brass bands in the mining and lumbering communities “up north.” Paul Niemisto’s new book “Cornets & Pickaxes” is the first written history of that era of music making and these pages make a convincing case that the Finns made a great contribution to Minnesota culture. It is also a good overview of the band music history in Finland and a summary of contemporary musical life among Finnish Americans.”

Osmo Vänskä, Music Director and Conductor

Minnesota Orchestra


“It is with pleasure that I recommend this important work on Finnish and Finnish American bands by Paul Niemisto particularly as he shows their role as a part of American culture.  “Cornets & Pickaxes” includes exhaustive detail on the subject. In fact the book is encyclopedic in its coverage of those instrumental groups in both the old country and the US. Thus the work is a scholarly contribution to colleagues in the field as well as a stimulus to students interested in the subject. In that regard it is a model for others with its lengthy bibliography and its prolific original visuals.”

Dr. Victor Greene, Emeritus Professor of History

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

Author of “Passion for Polka”- Old Time Ethnic Music in America