Jean Sibelius  
Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius, original name Johan Julius Christian Sibelius (born Dec. 8, 1865, Hämeenlinna, Fin.—died Sept. 20, 1957, Järvenpää), Finnish composer, the most noted symphonic composer of Scandinavia.

Sibelius studied at the Finnish Normal School, the first Finnish-speaking school in Russian-held Finland, where he came into contact with Finnish literature and in particular with the Kalevala, the mythological epic of Finland, which remained for him a constant source of inspiration. (Many of his symphonic poems, such as Pohjola’s Daughter [1906] and Luonnotar [1913], drew on this source.) Although intended for a legal career, he soon abandoned his law studies at Helsinki, devoting himself entirely to music. At first he planned to become a violinist. Under the guidance of Martin Wegelius he composed much chamber and instrumental music. He adopted the name Jean, which he used throughout his professional career in preference to his baptismal names. In his mid-20s he left Finland to continue his studies in Berlin and Vienna, where his teachers included the composers Robert Fuchs and Karl Goldmark.

On his return to Finland a performance of his first large-scale orchestral work, the Kullervo Symphony (1892), created something of a sensation. This and succeeding works, En Saga (1892), the Karelia music, and the Four Legends, established him as Finland’s leading composer. The third of the four symphonic poems in Four Legends is the well-known The Swan of Tuonela (1893). In 1897, before the appearance of his Symphony No. 1 in E Minor (1899), the Finnish Senate voted Sibelius a small life pension in recognition of his genius. His tone poem Finlandia was written in 1899 and revised in 1900. Sibelius’ compositions of the 1890s are those of a nationalist composer working in the Romantic tradition.


In the first decade of the 20th century Sibelius’ fame penetrated the European continent. The pianist-composer Ferruccio Busoni, whose friendship he had made in Helsinki as a student, conducted his Symphony No. 2 in D Major (1901) in Berlin, and the British composer Granville Bantock commissioned his Symphony No. 3 in C Major (1907). With this work Sibelius turned his back on the national romanticism of the second symphony and the Violin Concerto in D Minor (1903) and moved toward the more searching and uncompromising mode of utterance of En Saga and the Symphony No. 4 in A Minor (1911). After World War I he published his greatest works, the last three symphonies (No. 5 in E-flat Major, No. 6 in D Minor, and No. 7 in C Major) and Tapiola (1925) but then lapsed into the long silence of his last years. Rumours of an eighth symphony (promised for performance in the early 1930s) and even a ninth symphony were unfounded. No manuscripts survived his death.

The 1930s saw a vogue for Sibelius prompted by such writers as Cecil Gray and Constant Lambert in England and Olin Downes in the United States. Despite a reaction against this vogue in the following generation, Sibelius retained his firm hold over the musical public. Although his inspiration is intimately connected with the Scandinavian landscape, it is not primarily as a nature poet that he is remembered. His achievement both in the symphonic poems and the seven symphonies lies principally in his remarkable mastery of form. The first movement of the third symphony has the clarity of construction of a Haydn or Mozart first movement, yet its organic unity and architecture even surpasses its models. It was in this capacity for organic growth that the secret of his genius lay.

Encyclopædia Britannica

Renowned as Finland's greatest composer, Jean Sibelius showed early musical ability both as a violinist and composer and attained a thorough knowledge of Viennese classics through playing in his family's string trio. In 1885 he enrolled m a law course at the University of Helsinki, but it was soon clear that his ambitions lay m music. He moved to the Conservatoire the following year, where he developed a friendship with the composer Busoni. who was a member of the teaching staff.

In 1889 Sibelius made a two-year trip abroad to study in Berlin and Vienna. He formed a taste for high society during this period: heavy drinking and extravagance led to the beginning of financial problems that would beset him for some rime to come.

Sibelius returned to Finland in 1892 and married Aino Jarnefelt, a member of an aristocratic Finnish family. Their marriage survived until Sibelius's death in 1957, despite his debts and drinking. A visit to Bayreuth, the home of Wagnerian opera, m 1894 had a profound effect on the young Sibelius. He abandoned an early opera, perhaps feeling unable to compete with Wagner, and concentrated instead on symphonic music. The result was heard m 1899 when both the
First symphony and Finlandia were performed to great acclaim. The latter was composed for a pageant that became a rallying point for Finnish nationalists at a time when Russian domination of the country was increasing.
The first decade of the twentieth century saw a massive growth in Sibelius's international reputation. He travelled extensively, and was received warmly in England and the United States. In 1901 he met Dvorak in Prague and spent the rest of the year working on the Second symphony, which takes a more overtly nationalist stance than his other symphonies. One of his most frequently performed works, the Violin concerto, was composed in 1903 and became immediately successful.

This was also a period of extravagance and mounting debt. In 1908 Sibelius became seriously ill and was forced to give up smoking and drinking for some years. The threat to his life posed by a suspected cancer may well account for a renewed concentration and depth in the works that followed. His symphonies are notable for their organic growth, subtly achieved forms, and refined instrumentation.

The Fifth symphony, his most popular, was composed during World War I. Heroic in mood, it is easily accessible and contains some of the most colourful music he ever wrote. The postwar years saw only four major new works by Sibelius: the final symphonies (Nos. 6 and 7), incidental music to Shakespeare's The Tempest, and finally the tone poem Tapiola in 1 925.

Despite rumours of an eighth symphony, Sibelius lived out his remaining 30 years in musical silence. Many reasons have been suggested for this, his drinking and disillusionment with modern music being most often cited. Whatever the reason, Sibelius had already proven himself a composer of the highest rank.


Bruno Zwicker
Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47
Allegro moderato
Adagio di molto
Allegro ma mon tanyo
Chris Breemer
5 Piano Pieces Op. 75
When the rowan tree blossoms
The lonely pine
The aspen
The birch
The spruce
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sakari Oramo
Serenade No.2 for violin and orchestra

Songs op. 36
Randall Scarlata
Sigh, sedges, sigh

The Best of Sibelius
Jean Sibelius -- Patreon

1. Allegretto
2. Andante ma rubato
3. Vivacissimo
4. Finale, Allegro moderato
5. At the Castle Gate
6. M lisande
7. By the Seashore
8. By a Spring in the Park
9. The Three Blind Sisters
10. Pastorale
11. M lisande at the Spinning Wheel
12. Entr acte
13. M lisande s Death

Jean Sibelius - Finlandia
Finlandia, Op. 26 is a symphonic poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The first version was written in 1899, and it was revised in 1900. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire, as the last of seven pieces, each performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history.

The premiere was on 2 July 1900 in Helsinki with the Helsinki Philharmonic Society conducted by Robert Kajanus. A typical performance takes anywhere from 7½ to 9 minutes.

A recurrent joke within Finland at this time was the renaming of Finlandia at various musical concerts so as to avoid Russian censorship. Titles under which the piece masqueraded were numerous, a famously flippant example being Happy Feelings at the awakening of Finnish Spring.

Most of the piece is taken up with rousing and turbulent music, evoking the national struggle of the Finnish people. But towards the end, a calm comes over the orchestra, and the serenely melodic Finlandia Hymn is heard. Often incorrectly cited as a traditional folk melody, the Hymn section is of Sibelius's own creation.

Although initially composed for orchestra, in 1900 Sibelius arranged the entire work for solo piano.

Sibelius later reworked the Finlandia Hymn into a stand-alone piece. This hymn, with words written in 1941 by Veikko Antero Koskenniemi, is one of the most important national songs of Finland (though Maamme is the national anthem). With different words, it is also sung as a Christian hymn (Be Still, My Soul), and was the national anthem of the short-lived African state of Biafra (Land of the Rising Sun).

Created by
Wild Scandinavia / Wildes Skandinavien / (2011)
Directors: Oliver Goetzl
Writers: Oliver Goetzl
Cinematography: Ivo Nörenberg, Jan Henriksson and Rolf Steinmann

J.Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D Minor Op. 47 (Soyoung Yoon)
Soyoung Yoon (South Korea), winner of the 14th International Wieniawski Violin Competition plays Jean Sibelius Violin Concerto in D Minor Op. 47
with Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Marek Pijarowski

Poznań 19 October 2011

Sibelius Violin Concerto - Maxim Vengerov, Daniel Barenboim, Chicago S.O.
Jean Sibelius - Le Concerto pour violon en ré mineur, op. 47
Violon : Maxim Vengerov
Chef d'orchestre : Daniel Barenboim
Orchestre Symphonique de Chicago

1. Allegro moderato in D minor
2. Adagio di molto in B-flat major
3. Allegro, ma non tanto in D major

Sibelius : Symphony No. 1 E Minor op.39
Symphony No. 1 E Minor op.39
Philharmonia Orchestra
Jean Sibelius - Symphony No. 2 in D Major Op. 43 (1902), Mvt. 1 and 2 (Leonard Bernstein)
The second symphony is the most popular and most frequently recorded of Sibelius's symphonies. It is more skilfully orchestrated than the first symphony. The ideas of form are more mature and the violent Finnish gloom is replaced by a more classical touch and by the light of the Mediterranean.
The heroic and optimistic first and final movements of the symphony were exactly what the Finnish public needed in 1902, during a period of Russian oppression. The first public performance consolidated Sibelius's fame as a national hero. Soon the symphony was also triumphantly acclaimed abroad.
Jean Sibelius - Symphony No. 3 Op. 52 - Leif Segerstam
Op. 52 Symphony no. 3 in C major:
1. Allegro moderato, 2. Andantino con moto, quasi allegretto, 3. Moderato - Allegro ma non tanto.
The Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Leif Segerstam, conductor.
Sibelius - Symphony No 4 in A minor, Op 63 - Vänskä
Symphony No 4 in A minor, Op 63

00:00 Tempo molto moderato, quasi adagio
11:40 Allegro molto vivace
16:18 Il tempo largo
30:24 Allegro

Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor

Sibelius : Symphony 4 ( Full ) - Karajan
Sibelius : Symphony 5 (Full) - Karajan
00.00 : Part 1 : Tempo molto moderato - Allegro moderato (ma poco a poco stretto) - Vivace molto - Presto - Più Presto
14.12 : Part 2 : Andante mosso, quasi allegretto - Poco a poco stretto - Tranquillo - Poco a poco stretto - Ritenuto al tempo I
22.38 : Part 3 : Allegro molto - Misterioso - Un pochettino largamente - Largamente assai - Un pochettino stretto
Sibelius : Symphony 6 ( Full )- Karajan
00.00 : 1. Allegro molto moderato
09.15 : 2. Allegretto moderato
15.35 : 3. Poco vivace
19.05 : 4. Allegro molto
Sibelius - Symphony No 7 in C major, Op 105 - Vänskä
Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Jean Sibelius - String Quartet in D-Minor op. 56, Voces Intimae
Op. 56 String quartet in D minor (Voces intimae):
1. Andante - Allegro molto moderato, 2. Vivace, 3. Adagio di molto, 4.
Allegretto (ma pesante), 5. Allegro. Completed in 1909.

Copenhagen String Quartet
ensemble, Recorded in the 1960's.
Tutter Givskov, violin.
Mogens Lydolph, violin.
Mogens Bruun, viola.
Asger Lund Christiansen, violoncello.

Jean Sibelius - Skogsraet (The Wood Nymph) - Osmo Vänskä
Lahti Symphony Orchestra.
Osmo Vänskä, conductor.

Skogsrået (The Wood Nymph)
Op. 15 Skogsrået (The Wood Nymph), symphonic poem (ballad); based on a poem by Viktor Rydberg of the same name. Completed 1894-95; first public performance in Helsinki, 17th April 1895 (Orchestra of Helsinki Orchestral Society under Jean Sibelius). Arrangement as a play with music (for narrator, piano, two French horns and strings), first public performance in the premises of the Helsinki Club, 9th March 1895; piano arrangement of the final sequence (Ur "Skogsrået") 1895.

An early sketch of Skogsrået or The Wood Nymph may have been included in the plan for an opera in the summer of 1894. In addition to the opera (The Building of the Boat), Sibelius was planning a stage work about an unfaithful student. According to a theory presented by the musicologist Veijo Murtomäki, the "march-like musical piece" which Sibelius mentioned in a letter of 10th August 1894 could be the opening sequence of The Wood Nymph, while the trip to the forest would be the second sequence, the descriptions of unfaithfulness and sensual love the third sequence and the funeral march the finale of the work.

However, towards the end of 1894 the plan became more specific, and Sibelius decided to base the work on Viktor Rydberg's Skogsrået. In March 1895 Sibelius completed "the first sketch" of The Wood Nymph -- a play with music, for narrator, strings, two French horns and piano. It was performed on the occasion of a lottery at the premises of the Helsinki Club, on 9th March 1895.

Viktor Rydberg's text related the adventures of the hero Björn in the forest, where evil dwarfs are carrying out their malicious schemes and a curvaceous wood nymph lures Björn into making love to her. The spell he is under cannot be broken: Björn can no longer love his wife. Nor does he feel like working. He dies alone and full of yearning.

The orchestral version of The Wood Nymph was performed on 17th April 1895. The Wagnerian features of this erotically charged work were now more obvious than before. According to Merikanto The Wood Nymph included strange and enchanting colours, but one had to know the content of the poem to understand it. "And indeed, the audience were very attentive in following the content of the composition from the programme notes," he wrote.

In his opinion Sibelius's music had changed: it had gained in clarity as compared with its earlier "excessively passionate and incoherent fumbling".

The Wood Nymph remained in Sibelius's concert programmes for years. For instance, it was performed in 1899 when the first symphony had its first public performance. Although the piece was basically well worked-out, Sibelius never prepared the manuscript for publication. It gradually sank into oblivion with the exception of a single performance in 1936. Then, in the late 1990s, the work was again thrust into the international spotlight after the Lahti Symphony Orchestra had played and recorded it.

Opinions of the work have varied. Erik Tawaststjerna did not regard the composition as "central" to Sibelius's output, arguing that the composer "did not succeed in merging the different materials into a coherent whole". The composer Kalevi Aho took the same view: "An interesting work which would have needed more polishing."

The Sibelius scholar Veijo Murtomäki has defended The Wood Nymph: "One of the finest moments in the work is the modal-diatonic sound field which starts after the majestic opening and lasts for several minutes, bringing to mind Gorecki's third symphony!"

The opening is is indeed majestic, with an impressive theme in C major portraying Björn. After that we experience that long, almost minimalist "sound field", which ends with the return of the heroic theme. In the third episode we witness the meeting of Björn and the Wood Nymph. The long instrumental line from the cellos produces an extremely erotic atmosphere. However, the atmosphere changes to melancholy in the final episode, which depicts the hopeless yearning of the hero.

In The Wood Nymph, the listener can admire the young Sibelius's sensual orchestration and glowing tone colours.

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