Oulu Music Festival was born in early spring 1990, after the 7th Madetoja week festival. At that time all the major music weeks in Finland were transformed to foundations, instead of being organized by city administration. The name of the festival was changed in the process, and Seppo Kimanen, founder and leader of Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, was invited as the artistic director of the new event.
In an article published in Kaleva newspaper in 27th March 1990, Kimanen planned to keep the basic form of the festival similar than Madetoja week used to be, but to expand the range of different music genres. He stated, that he believes that high quality musical content and skilled performers will create a good spirit and popularity for the new event.