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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


SIBELIUS, Jean
b Hameenlinna, Finland, 8 December 1865
d Jarvenpaa, 20 September 1957, aged ninety-one

His father was a doctor who died of cholera when Jean was two. As a child he studied violin. Later he went to Helsinki to study law, and there met Busoni with whom he made a life-long friendship. He graduated in 1889, went to Berlin and Vienna for further musical studies, and finally returned to Finland in 1891. His acceptance as Finland's leading composer was immediate, and his music showed the powerful impact that Finnish mythology made upon him. His fame spread and he toured Germany and England, conducting his own music. He was seriously ill with suspected throat cancer in 1908 and had a series of operations. On his recovery he travelled as a conductor again. In 1912 he was offered the chair of composition at the Vienna Imperial Academy of Music; and in 1914 he was given an honorary doctorate at Yale as a climax of his visit to the USA. In the mid-1920s he retired from active composition, apart from writing his Eighth Symphony, which he completed in 1929 and subsequently destroyed. He died of a cerebral haemorrhage.

1881-2 (16-17)

Piano Trio in F minor

Piano Quartet in E minor

1885 (20)

String Quartet in Eb major

1888 (23)

Theme and Variations for quartet in C sharp minor

1889 (24)

Piano Quintet

Quartet in Bb major

Suite for violin, viola and cello

Violin Sonata in F major

1890-1 (25-6)

Overture in A minor

Overture in E major

1891 (26)

Scene de ballet

Piano Quartet in C major

1892 (27)

En Saga, symphonic poem (revised 1901)

Kullervo, symphonic poem

1893 (28)

Karelia, overture

Karelia, suite, for orchestra

The Swan of Tuonela, for orchestra (No 3 of the Four Legends from Kalevala)

1894 (29)

Spring Song, symphonic poem

1895 (30)

Cassazione, for orchestra (unpublished)

Lemminkainen and the Maidens (No 1 of the Four Legends from Kalevala)

Lemminkainen in Tuonela (No 2 of the Four Legends from Kalevala)

Lemminkainen's homecoming (No 4 of the Four Legends from Kalevala)

1896 (31)

The Girl in the Tower, opera (unpublished)

1898 (33)

King Christian II, incidental music

Symphony No 1 in E minor (1898-9)

1899 (34)

Scenes historiques, Suite No 1, three orchestral pieces

1900 (35)

Finlandia, symphonic poem

1901 (36)

Symphony No 2 in D major

Cortege, for orchestra (unpublished)

Portraits, for strings

1902 (37)

The Origin of Fire, for baritone, male voices and orchestra (revised 1910)

1903 (38)

Violin Concerto in D minor (revised 1905)

Romance, for strings

1904 (39)

Kuolema, incidental music, includes 'Valse Triste'

Symphony No 3 in C major (1904-07)

1905 (40)

Pelléas et Mélisande, incidental music

Not With Lamentations, for mixed voices

1906 (41)

Pohjola's Daughter, symphonic fantasy

The Liberated Queen, cantata for mixed voices and orchestra

1907 (42)

Belshazzar's Feast, suite for orchestra

Night-ride and Sunrise, tone poem

1908 (43)

String Quartet in five movements, Voces Intimae

1911 (46)

Symphony No 4 in A minor

Rakastava Suite, for orchestra

Valse romantique, for orchestra

Canzonetta, for strings

1912 (47)

Scènes historiques, Suite No 2, three orchestral pieces

Two Serenades for violin (1912-13)

1913 (48)

Scaramouche, pantomime

Il Bardo, symphonic poem

1914 (49)

Oceanides, symphonic poem

Symphony No 5 in Eb major (1914-15)

1916 (51)

Everyman, incidental music

1917 (52)

Humoresques, for violin and orchestra

1918 (53)

Our Native Land, cantata for mixed voices and orchestra

1919 (54)

Song of the Earth, cantata for mixed voices and orchestra

Scene pastorale, for orchestra

1920 (55)

Hymn of the Earth, cantata for mixed voices and orchestra

Valse lyrique, for orchestra

Valse chevaleresque, for orchestra

1921 (56)

Suite mignonne, for flute and strings

Suite champetre, for strings

1922 (57)

Suite caractéristique (Vivo, Lento, Commodo)

1923 (58)

Symphony No 6 in D minor

1924 (59)

Symphony No 7 in C major, in one movement

1925 (60)

Tapiola, symphonic poem

1926 (61)

The Tempest, incidental music

1929 (64)

Symphony No 8 (destroyed)

Sibelius also wrote other incidental music, songs, vocal works, chamber, instrumental and piano works.

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