A music critic for the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper has won the 2010 Tieto-Finlandia award, Finland’s top non-fiction prize, and EUR 30,000 to boot.

Vesa Sirén is his name and his book is called “Suomalaiset kapellimestarit, Sibeliuksesta Saloseen, Kajanuksesta Franckiin” (or, “Finnish Conductors: from Sibelius to Salonen, from Kajanus to Franck”).

As far as I can tell, there is no English-language edition yet available, though I’m sure it would be a bestseller in the U.S.

Sirén told his newspaper that he wrote the work “in the wee small hours of the night. As a rule, for two or three hours from the moment when I managed to get my child off to bed.” He also took a five month leave of absence, funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

Among the tidbits in this 1,000 page tome: Sibelius had a good conducting technique “unless he was drunk.”

Click here to read an interview with Sirén.