As a great composer of orchestral tone poems
, evoking something nonmusical or following a narrative thread, Sibelius came naturally to the idiom of songs.
This owners manual, accompanied by a full-length CD, surveys all the major works with orchestra: symphonies, concertos, tone poems
, operas, ballets, suites, and songs.
The relative absence of philosophical issues in the tone poems
creates a slight disconnect between the two parts of the book.
Not only had he a long career as a composer of exotic tone poems
and elegant operas, but as a celebrated conductor at great opera houses such as Vienna, Munich, Dresden and Berlin as well as Wanamaker's department store in New York in 1904.
The Strauss of the tone poems
can be considered, alongside Mahler and early Schonberg, to be representative of musical modernism.
The Symphonie fantastique (1830), subtitled Episode in the Life of an Artist, is the first piece of sustained narrative music, the forerunner of the tone poems
of Franz Liszt and Richard Strauss.
Following his writing a succession of popular, big-scale tone poems
like Don Juan, Tod und Verklarung (Death and Transfiguration), Don Quixote, Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life), and Also sprach Zarathustra, Richard Strauss ended his love affair with the genre in 1915 with An Alpine Symphony.
His tone poems
are brooding works with no hint of the frippery or frivolity of his waltzing namesake.
Sibelius: Tone Poems
(Naxos)Bung those chestnuts on an open fire, snuggle up and feel cosy and safe against all the trolls and demons and forces of nature lurking outside, as communicated by this enthralling bargain-basement disc of Sibelius tone-poems.
Dohnanyi's six songs, opus 14, are tone poems
in which predictable texts give rise to musical settings of unusual craftsmanship.