Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

Donald Macleod commemorates the 50th anniversary of Sibelius's death.

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0120060116

Donald Macleod discusses Sibelius's relationship with his own country, Finland.
Finlandia, Op 26, No 7
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Yoel Levi (conductor)
Kullervo and his sister
Karita Mattila (soprano)
Jorma Hynninen (baritone)
Laulun Ystavat Male Choir
Neeme Jarvi (conductor)
Tapiola: Philharmonia Orchestra
Vladimir Ashkenazy (conductor).

0120070917

By the age of 26, Sibelius had already established his reputation with the first of his symphonic masterpieces, marking him out as a standard-bearer of Finnish culture. This programme includes one of his most popular orchestral suites and the first in a line of tone poems that would thread themselves through his career over the next 30 years.
The Kiss's Hope; Spring is Flying; The Dream; The Young Huntsman, Op 13
Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano)
Bengt Forsberg (piano)
En Saga
Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Leif Segerstam (conductor)
Rakastava
Accentus Chamber Choir
Eric Ericson (conductor)
Karelia Suite
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Sakari Oramo (conductor).

01Bearing the Banner of Finnish Music20130819

01Bearing the Banner of Finnish Music20130819

Donald Macleod focuses on the early years of Jean Sibelius, who would go on to create a distinctive Finnish voice in music in the late 19th and early 20th century. Born just outside Helsinki in 1865, Sibelius grew up in a Swedish-speaking household, within a Finland which had not yet gained independence from Russia. His first musical love was for the violin, and he relinquished his dream of becoming a concert violinist very reluctantly.

01Bearing the Banner of Finnish Music20130819

Donald Macleod focuses on the early years of Jean Sibelius, who would go on to create a distinctive Finnish voice in music in the late 19th and early 20th century. Born just outside Helsinki in 1865, Sibelius grew up in a Swedish-speaking household, within a Finland which had not yet gained independence from Russia. His first musical love was for the violin, and he relinquished his dream of becoming a concert violinist very reluctantly.

01Bearing The Banner Of Finnish Music20130819

Donald Macleod focuses on the early years of Jean Sibelius, who would go on to create a distinctive Finnish voice in music in the late 19th and early 20th century. Born just outside Helsinki in 1865, Sibelius grew up in a Swedish-speaking household, within a Finland which had not yet gained independence from Russia. His first musical love was for the violin, and he relinquished his dream of becoming a concert violinist very reluctantly.

0220060117

Although he was a fervently patriotic Finn, Sibelius grew up speaking Swedish. Donald Macleod looks at the composer's relationship with Sweden and also with the bottle.
Elegie from King Christian II
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
Petri Sakari (conductor)
Sandels
Estonian National Male Choir and Symphony Orchestra
Parvo Järvi (conductor)
Six Songs, Op 36
Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo soprano)
Bengt Forsberg (piano)
7th Symphony
Icelandic Symphony Orchestra
Petri Sakari (conductor).

0220070918

Sibelius's lifelong fascination for the Finnish national epic the Kalevala was the impetus behind many of his works. Donald Macleod introduces the suite salvaged from the wreckage of his first attempt at an opera, a series of legends about a devil-may-care adventurer with an eye for the ladies.
The Broken Voice; Song of my Heart (2 Partsongs for male chorus, Op 18)
Helsinki University Chorus
Matti Hyokki (conductor)
Lemminkainen Suite
Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vanska (conductor).

02Berlin, Vienna, Helsinki20130820

Donald Macleod introduces music written by Sibelius during his period of study in Berlin, including his first work based on the Finnish national epic The Kalevala. Sibelius moved to Berlin armed with a scholarship amounting to 2000 Finnish marks, which was to pay for his tuition and maintenance for a year. What the young Finn experienced on his arrival was a quite severe culture shock. Back in Helsinki he was already a figure of national importance, but here in cosmopolitan Berlin, he was just one music student among many, and the place was alive with them. In this city where every musician he encountered seemed to be a virtuoso, Sibelius was intimidated. He found himself, initially, unable to compose at all.

0320060118

Part of Sibelius's initial success in Finland was due to the fact that he was seen as a figurehead by the nationalist movement, keen to be free of their oppressive neighbour and master Tzarist Russia. We hear some of the pieces he wrote to help in that cause.
Scenes Historiques 1
The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Jarvi (conductor)
Malinconia
Truls Mørk (cello)
Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano)
In Memoriam
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Jarvi (conductor)
Oma Maa
Ellerhein Girls School and Estonian National Male Choir and Symphony Orchestra
Paavo Jarvi (conductor).

0320070919

Sibelius had always wanted to be a virtuoso violinist, but an injury early in life together with crippling attacks of stage fright put this ideal well out of reach. However, it didn't stop him writing for the violin and Donald Macleod introduces one of the most popular concertos in the violin repertoire.
Valse Triste
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Jukka-Pekka Saraste (conductor)
Violin Concerto
Maxim Vengerov (violin)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim (conductor)
Pohjola's Daughter
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Jarvi (conductor).

03Sibelius The Patriot20130821

Political tensions within Finland increased with the issuing of the "February Manifesto" in 1899, designed to bring Finland into line with Mother Russia. Up to this time, although Sibelius had been drawing on explicitly Finish elements in his music in a broadly nationalist way, Sibelius took care to keep a safe distance from any kind of direct political involvement. But now, like all self-respecting Finns, Sibelius was incensed. Donald Macleod introduces some of the patriotic compositions the composer produced in the following years.

0420060119

Donald Macleod looks at Sibelius' relationship with Germany and we hear a recording of Sibelius conducting his own Andante Festivo.
Im Feld ein Madchen singen, Op 50, No 3
Katarina Karneus (mezzo soprano)
Julius Drake (piano)
Andante Festivo
The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Sibelius (conductor)
Violin Concerto
Kyung Wha Chung (violin)
London Symphony Orchestra
André Previn (conductor)
4th Symphony Mvt 1
Berlin Philharmonic
Herbert von Karajan (conductor).

0420070920

In his early 40s, Sibelius suffered debilitating health problems which, together with his ever-present financial worries, had a dramatic effect on his state of mind. Donald Macleod introduces some of the introspective works which resulted from this difficult time in his life.
Night Ride and Sunrise
Philharmonia Orchestra
Simon Rattle (conductor)
Voces Intimae (5th mvt)
Gabrieli String Quartet
The Bard
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Sakari Oramo (conductor)
Sonatina No 1 in F sharp minor
Erik Tawaststjerna (piano)
Luonnotar
Soile Isokoski (soprano)
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Jaarvi (conductor).

04A Warning From Above20130822

Years of heavy drinking had taken a toll on the health of Sibelius, to the extent that at the age of only 39, he had tremors in his hands. He was persuaded to move out of the city to a house in the countryside. But word had got around that he was in poor health and people who had funded him in the past turned their backs. Donald Macleod explores the music composed by Sibelius in this period, when, with health problems becoming more acute, the composer receives a "warning from above".

05 LAST20070921

When Sibelius died in 1957 at the age of 91, he had acquired the status of national icon and the most famous musician in the world, in spite of the fact that he composed virtually nothing during the last 30 years of his life. Donald Macleod introduces a selection of Sibelius's final works, including some of the finest examples of his evocations of his homeland.
Norden, Op 90 No 1
Anne-Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano)
Bengt Forsberg (piano)
Oceanides
Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vanska (conductor)
Three Humoresques for violin and orchestra, Op 89
Joseph Swensen (violin)
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Jukka-Pekka Saraste (conductor)
The Tempest Prelude
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Jarvi (conductor)
Tapiola
Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Leif Segerstam (conductor).

05 LAST*20060120

Sibelius was caught smuggling on his first trip to Britain. The experience did not put him off and he visited again three more times, as Donald Macleod finds out.

Valse Triste

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Vladimir Ashkenazy (conductor)

Jubal

Elisabeth Soderstrom (soprano)

Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)

Symphony 5

Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Mariss Jansons (conductor)

Luonnotar, Op 70

Karita Mattila (soprano)

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Sakari Oramo (conductor).

05 LASTBefore The Silence20130823

Save for a scattering of miniatures and occasional pieces, Sibelius wrote no major compositions after 1926, although he lived for three more decades. Donald Macleod reflects on Sibelius's final works before his legendary period of silence.