Jean Sibelius

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Sibelius, Jean


Born Dec. 8, 1865, in Hämeenlinna (Tavas-tehus); died Sept. 20, 1957, in Järvenpää, near Helsinki. Finnish composer.

A pupil of M. Wegelius in Helsinki, Sibelius completed his studies with A. Becker in Berlin and R. Fuchs and C. Goldmark in Vienna. His most important creations were his major orchestral works (seven symphonies and 14 symphonic poems, 1892–1929). Sibelius embodied the distinctive northern color of Finnish folk music in his works, using its characteristic harmonic and rhythmic turns. The poetic images of the national epic, the Kalevala, inspired the Kullervo Symphony and the symphonic poems, including the Lemminkäinen Suite (four poems, of which The Swan of Tuonela won Sibelius renown), Pohjola’s Daughter, and Tapiola. Many of Sibelius’ works are imbued with patriotism (the first and second symphonies, the symphonic poem Finlandia, and the choral works, including the heroic cantata Our Native Land). Impressionistic overtones are characteristic of his program music, which is pervaded by images of nature (the symphonic poems A Saga, Spring Song, Night Ride and Sunrise, The Dryads, The Oceanides, and Tapiola, as well as the Symphony No. 4).

The form of some of the works from Sibelius’ early and middle creative periods (the second, fourth, and fifth symphonies) deviates from the classical scheme. The music is noted for diverse moods, an orchestral palette rich in original sound images, a rhythm characterized by breaks, and a poignant, sharp harmonic language. In his later works Sibelius turned to classical clarity of form and simplicity of expressive means.

Among Sibelius’ most popular works are the concerto for violin and orchestra, which is distinguished by deep emotions and by originality in the musical embodiment of images; the lyric art songs “Black Roses,” “Driftwood,” and especially “The Tryst”; and music for dramatic performances, rearranged for concert performance, including “Valse Triste” and the orchestral suite from the music to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The Sibelius Week festival has been held in Finland in June since 1950.


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Vachnadze, M. Ian Sibelius. Moscow, 1963.
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Ringbom, N. E. Jean Sibelius. Oklahoma [1954].
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Tawaststjerna, E. Sibelius. Stockholm, 1968.


References in periodicals archive ?
The overwhelming fact about the life of Jean Sibelius is its sheer span.
This collection of forty-two essays from the Third International Jean Sibelius Conference on topics related to the life, work, and cultural environment of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) is no exception.
The average art music listener might be hard pressed to name more than the three most famous Nordic composers, Edvard Grieg, Jean Sibelius, and Carl Nielson.
A few scattered "Hameenlinna" details, however, found their way into the opening of Guy Rickards's recent biography, Jean Sibelius [London: Phaidon Press, 1997]).
A chapter on Gustav Mahler's first four symphonies carries the subject to the very end of the nineteenth century, while two more chapters, covering Edward Elgar and Jean Sibelius, take matters into the twentieth.
Later on, both Arnold Schoenbers and Jean Sibelius wrote music inspired by the play.
Coming of age just after World War II, he benefitted from the teaching of Vagn Holmboe, whose influence, along with that of Jean Sibelius, led to Norgard's initial Nordic style.
The decision to place a disc of the Peter Tchaikovsky and Jean Sibelius violin concertos in the Tchaikovsky section is arbitrary, to say the least.
Delius, like so many other composers (Robert Schumann, Jean Sibelius, and Wilhelm Stenhammar, to mention a few), arrived at his calling over the objections of his parents, who wanted him in the family business.
Scandinavian composers other than Carl Nielsen, Jean Sibelius and Edvard Grieg are not well known internationally.
And the piece does "bloom" in a way Jean Sibelius liked to reference at the end of his life: music that breaks free of traditional forms and flowers organically.
Take, for instance, Finnish composer and alcoholic Jean Sibelius, whose violin concerto was the concert's centrepiece.