Ilmari Hannikainen (1892 – 1955) came from a very famous finnish musical family. His father and two of his brothers were composers and another brother was a conductor. After studying at the University of Helsinki, he became a pupil of Franz Schreker at the Musikakademie in Vienna, continued his studies with Alexander Siloti in Saint Petersburg, finishing with Alfred Cortot in Paris (1919). Returning to Finland, he taught piano at the Helsinki Conservatory and later gained a Professorship at the Sibelius Academy.
Hannikainens music moved from late Romanticism towards Impressionism. He also wrote film scores. Hannikainen drowned during a sailing trip in Kuhmoinen in 1955. Some musical colleagues considered his death a suicide.