Pertti Pekkanen completed his degree in conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki under Tauno Hannikainen, Simon Parmet and Jorma Panula. He later completed his studies in Austria under Professor Hans Swarowsky, among others. Pekkanen participated with great success in the Herbert von Karajan Competition in Berlin in 1972.
During the 1973-74 season Pekkanen worked as an assistant conductor with the Helsinki City Orchestra and for the following twelve years he conducted the Turku City Orchestra. Between 1987-88 he worked at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki as professor of orchestra leadership, and during 1989-91 as the chief conductor of the Kuopio City Orchestra. He has also been conductor of the Lappeenranta and Vaasa City Orchestras.
Pertti Pekkanen made his debut as a conductor of opera with the Finnish National Opera production of Carmen in 1984, after which followed the premiere of Aho’s Insect Life, and The Last Temptations by J.Kokknonen. Pekkanen conducted La Forza del Destino at the Savonlinna Music Festival in 1999-2000. The same production visited Sweden with great success. For the Tampere Opera he has conducted Der Fliegende Holländer, The Queen of Spades and Manon Lescaut. Pekkanen has visited the Nordic countries as well as Poland, Germany, England and Russia, where he has conducted the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. He has also guested with the Tokyo and Osaka Philharmonic Orchestras in Japan. Pertti Pekkanen has made many recordings, of which Englund’s award-winning 1st and 2nd symphonies could be mentioned.