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  and Luonnotar
, 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
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.
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
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.
2. Andante ma rubato
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
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
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).
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
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
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.
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
Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Sibelius : Symphony 4 ( Full ) -
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
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
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Jean Sibelius -
String Quartet in D-Minor op. 56, Voces Intimae
Op. 56 String quartet in D minor (Voces
1. Andante - Allegro molto moderato, 2. Vivace, 3. Adagio di molto,
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")
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
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
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
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.