Sibelius Finland Experience is a unique experience

Written by Erik.T,Tawaststjerna 

The Finnish composer Jean Sibelius is one of the great masters of orchestral music. His main works are the seven symphonies and the violin concerto, but some shorter works for orchestra are equally popular.

The Intermezzo is the first movement from the Karelia Suite. Sibelius composed this work in 1893 originally as theatre music for a series of tableaux (still scenes on the stage) produced by the Viborg Student Corporation. Viborg (now a Russian city between the Finnish border and St. Petersburg) used to be the capital of the Karelian province of Finland. For Sibelius, the Karelian folk tradition of rune (epic poetry) singing was a very important source of inspiration in the first years of his career. No doubt the Karelia Suite was an homage to the Karelian province and its historical connection to Finland. The Intermezzo begins with horn calls against a soft string background. Later we hear a march-like theme, based on the the horn motif. At the end the horn calls and string tremolos return.

Sibelius would have earned a fortune with his Valse Triste, if our modern copyright laws had been implemented back in the early 1900s. Alas, this was not the case, and the composer got a scant financial reward for one of his all-time hits. This melancholic waltz was composed in 1903 for a theatre production of the symbolistic play Kuolema (Death), written by Sibelius’s brother-in-law, Arvid Järnefelt. At the beginning of this particular scene, a lady is lying on her deathbed. Little by little she hears the sounds of a waltz, she sees figures dancing in the room, and finally she is tempted to join the dance. She does not notice that she is dancing with Death, and at the end of this dream-like scene she falls down and dies.

The tone-poem Finlandia, together with the violin concerto, is the best-known work by Sibelius. It, too, had its origins in theatre music. Sibelius composed a set of pieces for theatre tableaux presented by the Days of News Press in 1899, and the music for the last tableau, Wake up Finland, was the first version of the Finlandia. This was a time of intense Russian oppression of the awakening Finnish national awareness. At the time, until 1917, Finland was still a Grand-duchy of the Russian Empire. Sibelius reworked the Finlandia into a tone poem in 1900, and its inspiring music has since become part of the world’s cultural heritage. The hymn in the work’s middle section has been set to words somewhat later, and it is often sung as an independent piece of music. It has even been suggested that this hymn should be made the national anthem of Finland. The hymn is much loved by all Finns and by millions of people worldwide.

We are all excited to make the great works of Sibelius available for domestic and international visitors at Helsinki during the period daily from 17th of june to 8th of august 2014. Sibelius 150 year anniversary is 2015 and this experience will be part of the celebration.

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