Max Lilja is a Finnish solo artist, cellist and composer. 

Lilja studied classical cello at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland from 1985 to 1997 with Hannu Kiiski, Raimo Sariola and Arto Noras. 

In 1996, Lilja and his cellist friends founded the cello rock band Apocalyptica and during this era released the albums Plays Metallica by Four Cellos (1996), Inquisition Symphony (1998) and Cult (2000). Albums have sold multiple gold and platinum and won several awards. 

In 2000s Lilja played in metal band Hevein who released Sound Over Matter (2005) and Gentle Anarchy (2013) as well as in poetry band Tekijä Tuntematon, known for albums Rakkauden Ovi (2005) and Syksyllä Minäkin (2008). 

Since 2010 Lilja has focused on his solo career and released genre-bending cello-electro albums; Plays Electronica by One Cello (2013), Morphosis (2015) and 10 000 Miens (2018). 

Lilja has composed music for Light Bulb Crew’s video game Othercide (2020), Maria Veijalainen’s radio play The Exorcist (2019), Janne Laiho’s films Work of an artist (2013), Hemen (2016) and Astronaut (2020), Justina Nevel’s film Will (2022) and Jussi Rautaniemi’s film Boy and a killer (2022). 

In studio and on stage Lilja has worked with artists and bands from different genres, including worldwide touring with rock soprano Tarja Turunen. Besides acoustic and electric cello, Lilja also plays the electro-acoustic halldorophone. 

Lilja has performed solo concerts in Europe and the US, and in his career over a thousand concerts in more than 60 countries around the world. 

From a review of Lilja’s electronic solo concert: “Max Lilja is a rock star of the cello. Lilja’s music puts you in a trance. He sounds like Jean-Michel Jarre, Depeche Mode and Jimmy Hendrix. There’s only this grand Finnish sound wizard, the cello and an incredible charisma.” —Badische Zeitung 




Solo albums

10 000 Miens, 2018
Morphosis, 2015
Plays Electronica By One Cello, 2013
credits: music, production, performance



Othercide (Original Game Soundtrack), 2020
The Exorcist (Original Radio Play Soundtrack), 2020



Act 1, 2012
credits: cellist


Gentle Anarchy, 2012
Sound Over Matter, 2005
credits: composer, arranger, cellist

Tekijä Tuntematon

Syksyllä Mikäkin, 2008
Rakkauden Ovi, 2005
credits: arranger, cellist


Live, 2001
Cult, 2000
Inquisition Symphony, 1998
Plays Metallica By Four Cellos, 1996
credits: arranger, cellist



1975 - is born in Vantaa, Finland
1980 - starts playing violin
1982 - switches to cello
1983 - 1984 studies cello as a practice pupil for Panu Saari in Sibelius Academy
1985 - is considered highly talented and despite of his young age is accepted to the Junior Academy of Sibelius Academy
1985 - 1993 studies cello at Junior Academy of Sibelius Academy with Hannu Kiiski, Kazimierz Michalic and Dr. Raimo Sariola
1993 - plays For Whom The Bell Tolls with three cellist friends in a music summer camp party
1993 - is accepted to Sibelius Academy, majoring in music, studies cello with Dr. Raimo Sariola and Prof Arto Noras.
1994 - another cello metal band music summer camp experiment
1994 - 1996 principal cellist in Symphony Orchestra Vivo
1995 - principal cellist in Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra
1995 - the first rock club cello metal concert
1996 - Apocalyptica is founded, band is signed to a Finnish indie label Zen Garden, Plays Metallica By Four Cellos is released, touring starts
1997 - touring with Apocalyptica, bands debut album is released worldwide, drops out of Sibelius Academy
1998 - 2nd Apocalyptica album Inquisition Symphony
1999 - touring with Apocalyptica, cellist in Mestarit Areenalla -tour
2000 - 3rd Apocalyptica album Cult
2001 - last tours with Apocalyptica
2002 - joins finnish multi genre metal band Hevein
2003 - cellist in Finnish National Opera Orchestra
2004 - Tekijä Tuntematon, a Finnish folk/pop/+ band whos music is based on Finnish poetry is founded
2005 - Hevein debut album Sound Over Matter, Tekijä Tuntematon debut album ”Rakkauden Ovi”
2006 - searching for ” the sound ” of electrified cello, the idea of solo album is born
2007 - starts touring and recording with former Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen
2008 - 2nd Tekijä Tuntematon album Syksyllä minäkin, HeadFake + one -tour with Living Colour rhythm section Doug Wimbish and Will Calhoun, touring with Tarja
2009 - pushing the limits of electrified cello in search of ” the sound ”, touring with Tarja
2010 - working on the 1st solo album, touring with Tarja
2011 - working on the 1st solo album, touring with Tarja
2012 - working on the 1st solo album, Hevein EP Gentle Anarchy, touring with Tarja
2013 - 1st solo album Plays Electronica By One Cello, composing music to a documentary film Taiteilijan Työ, touring with Tarja, departs from Hevein
2014 - touring with Tarja, film music composing
2015 - 2nd solo album Morphosis, solo shows, touring with Tarja
2016 - solo shows, performing in the opening of Slush, film music composing, touring with Tarja
2017 - solo shows,  participating at Camp - festival, Apocalyptica feat. Max Lilja at Wacken Open Air, touring with Tarja
2018 - 3rd solo album 10 000 Miens, solo shows, touring with Tarja, film, theatre and game music composing
2019 - solo shows, music to radio play Manaaja (The Exorcist), film music composing
2020 - some shows, covid, Othercide game soundtrack
2021 - covid, working on new ideas, Nature Concert Hall concerts
2022 - working on a new project, touring with Tarja, solo show at Amsterdam Cellofest
2023 - recording and producing a new unique classical cross over project, some tours with Tarja
2024 - Six Shades of Bach