The autograph manuscript of Sibelius’s String Quartet in D minor (‘Voces intimae’), Op. 56, signed twice (‘Jean Sibelius’), will be auctioned at the bi-annual Music and Continental Books and Manuscripts sale by Sotheby’s, London on 29 November 2016. The sale will also offer the complete autograph manuscript of Gustav Mahler’s Second Symphony (‘Resurrection’).
The large number of new recordings of ‘Voces intimae’ (see e.g. our Discography & Recordings page) in recent years have confirmed its status as one of Sibelius’s middle-period masterpieces.
The quartet was completed in 1909 and published by Lienau the same year. Although this manuscript was used by Sibelius’s publisher to set up the first edition in 1909, it contains important differences from it. The final twenty-one bars differ markedly from the printed scores and were evidently completely rewritten on a later manuscript.
This is the sole surviving manuscript of the whole work.
Sibelius was by no means the only composer to draw inspiration from the Kalevala in the late 19th century. Karl Müller-Berghaus’s (1829–1907) opera Die Kalewainen in Pochjola was composed in Turku more than 120 years ago, to a libretto by Franz Spengler. This recently rediscovered work is the first through-composed opera based on the Kalevala, but it has never before been staged anywhere. In late February/early March 2017 the Turku Music Festival and Turku Philharmonic Orchestra will bring the opera to Turku’s LOGOMO cultural centre.
The composer, conductor and violinist Karl Müller-Berghaus was born in Braunschweig, Germany, and served as conductor of the Turku orchestra from 1886 until 1895.
The production features leading soloists including Tommi Hakala, Johanna Rusanen-Kartano, Christian Juslin and Susanna Andersson. It will be directed by Tiina Puumalainen and conducted by Leif Segerstam.
The performance lasts approximately 3 hours and the opera is sung in German.
The Lahti Symphony Orchestra has invited the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra to perform at the concert in the Sibelius Hall on Friday 1 September 2017 as part of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s 18th International Sibelius Festival. The GSO will be conducted by Santtu-Matias Rouvali, the rising star conductor, originally from Lahti, who takes over as principal conductor in Gothenburg in autumn and will bring his new orchestra to his home town right away. It will be the first foreign visit by Rouvali together with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (the National Orchestra of Sweden).
The Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s 18th International Sibelius Festival will take place at the Sibelius Hall from 30 August until 3 September 2017, and its artistic director is Dima Slobodeniouk, principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. In addition to the concert by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, there will be three concerts by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra under Slobodeniouk’s baton (Wednesday 30 August, Thursday 31 August and Saturday 2 September), as well as chamber concerts and other events. The theme of the programmes of music by Sibelius is the centenary of Finland’s independence, and the orchestral concerts will include, among other works, the Second and Fifth Symphonies, Spring Song, En saga, The Wood-Nymph and the Press Celebrations Music; further details of the repertoire will be announced shortly. The festival is also part of the national ‘Finland 100’ programme of events.
Dima Slobodeniouk, artistic director of the Sibelius festival, regards the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s visit as a landmark in the festival’s history: ‘One of Sibelius’s most important champions outside Finland was the composer and conductor Wilhelm Stenhammar, who was principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra from 1907 until 1922. When we speak of Finland’s independence, we should remember that the year 1917 marks an important phase in Sibelius’s life as well, when knowledge of his music was spreading rapidly internationally, and the Gothenburg orchestra played an important part in this’.
Sten Cranner, general manager and artistic director of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, says that the orchestra is genuinely honoured by and grateful for the invitation to perform at the Lahti Sibelius Festival in 2017. ‘Most of all because Jean Sibelius is so important for the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s repertoire, history and identity, but it’s certainly also very special for us in that we will make a guest appearance at the festival for the first time in Finland’s anniversary year. This will also be our very first concert outside Sweden with our new chief conductor, Santtu-Matias Rouvali.’
The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, one of Europe’s most highly renowned symphony orchestras, was founded in 1905. The orchestra played Sibelius’s music for the first time in 1907, performing the Second Symphony under the baton of Armas Järnefelt. In the decades that followed, the Second Symphony featured on the orchestra’s programmes so often that it became an unofficial calling card.
In February 1911 Sibelius conducted his own music in Sweden for the first time, with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (in works including Pohjola’s Daughter and the Third Symphony), and in 1915 Sibelius’s only wartime trip abroad took him to Sweden, where he conducted his own music in Gothenburg. He visited Gothenburg again to conduct his own works in 1923, and dedicated his Sixth Symphony – completed that year – to Stenhammar. When Stenhammar died in 1927, Sibelius wrote: ‘In all my life I have never met such a noble and idealistic person as Wilhelm Stenhammar. I am proud that I could count myself among his friends. He meant so much to my art! How infinitely empty it feels now that he is no longer with us.
The orchestra’s strong Sibelius tradition continued even after Stenhammar’s time, for example with the conductor Neeme Järvi, who recorded two cycles of Sibelius symphonies in Gothenburg (for BIS and Deutsche Grammophon). Among the BIS Sibelius recordings are also numerous world premières, for instance of the opera The Maiden in the Tower, the Overtures in A minor and E major, Ballet Scene and Academic March.
Born in London in 1979, Shelley, the son of celebrated concert pianists, studied cello and conducting in Germany and first gained widespread attention when he was unanimously awarded first prize at the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition. In January 2015 he assumed the role of principal associate conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The concerts are as follows:
Sibelius: The Swan of Tuonela
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 (soloist: Anna Fedorova)
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2
The Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s Sibelius Festival 2016 marked the beginning of a new era: the start of Dima Slobodeniouk’s tenure as principal conductor of the orchestra and artistic director of the festival.
The festival is now in its seventeenth year and took place on 8–11 September. For listeners it marked a leap into the unknown…
Jannen Salaisuus, extract (Finnish National Opera video)
The Finnish composer Olli Kortekangas has composed a children’s opera called Jannen salaisuus (Janne’s Secret; 2015), aiming firstly to create a work about Sibelius’s childhood, and secondly to present his music, his aesthetics and even a few of his composition techniques to children. The piece was commissioned by the Finnish National Opera, lasts 45 minutes, and is scored for three soloists, violin, piano, and children’s chorus.
The libretto was written by the prominent Finnish author, journalist and broadcaster Minna Lindgren, and it is based on real life although there are also fictional elements and the chronology has been adapted. In the music there are quotations from around fifteen of Sibelius’s works and some from Mozart, Schubert and Wagner, plus many stylistic allusions; the basic motif – described by Kortekangas as ‘a bit “bluesy”’, is derived from the keys of Sibelius’s seven symphonies.
The undertaking was approved by the Sibelius estate. So far Jannen salaisuus has been performed in around fifty schools around Finland, and the tour continues until the end of 2016. The children’s chorus is always from the respective school, so the children have the opportunity to work with opera professionals. ‘From my point of view’, says Kortekangas, ‘it’s been a wonderful project.’
In addition, in 2015 Kortekangas wrote a three-movement male choir piece for the YL Choir called Höstlig skärgård (Autumnal Archipelago), with the subtitle ‘Hommage à Jean Sibelius’. The text is by the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer (1931–2015), who was a big fan of Sibelius’s music. In Kortekangas’s piece there is not that much actual Sibelius; the connection is more on an emotional and symbolic level: high quality poetry in Swedish, images of nature and so on.
Olli Kortekangas (b. 1955) studied music theory and composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki under the direction of Einojuhani Rautavaara and Eero Hämeenniemi, and continued his studies in Berlin with Dieter Schnebel. He has subsequently worked as a teacher himself, including periods at the National Theatre Academy and the Sibelius Academy, and has taken part in educational projects with children and youth, in Finland and abroad. His music has been featured in concerts and at festivals around the world, and he is currently working on several domestic and international commissions. He has received numerous awards, including the Special Prize of the Prix Italia Competition, the City of Salzburg Opera Prize and the prestigious Teosto Prize, and has four times been the recipient of the five-year grants of the Arts Council of Finland.
Olli Kortekangas’s œuvre consists of about 140 works, from solo pieces and chamber music to orchestral works and operas. He has been attracted to the human voice since his early days, and has written nine operas including the successful Daddy’s Girl (2007), for the Savonlinna Opera Festival, and the monologue Own Fault (2015). Collaborations with some of the best Finnish choirs have resulted in many a cappella choral works which have entered the international repertoire. Kortekangas has also written several works for chorus and orchestra such as Seven Songs for Planet Earth, commissioned and premièred by the Choral Arts Society of Washington, and Migrations (2014), to words by Sheila Packa, for the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä.
During a residency with the Oulu Symphony Orchestra (1997–2009) Kortekangas turned his attention to orchestral composition, which has resulted in a number of works, including several concertos. His output also includes chamber and instrumental solo works, particularly for the organ, as well as chamber music with voice. Recently, he has written several works for period instruments. Throughout his career, Kortekangas has also been interested in collaboration with other arts and artists. Olli Kortekangas’s music is published by Fennica Gehrman and represented internationally by Boosey & Hawkes and Schott Music.
The ongoing Sibelius discography project has been updated, now including Valse triste and assorted new releases.
To download the latest version click here: Sibelius_Discography_20160817
For more information on the discography project and recent releases see our Discography & Recordings page.
Jean Sibelius Complete Works (JSW)
Overture in E major, JS 145, and Balettscen, JS 163,
edited by Tuija Wicklund
Back in the 1970s, when Paavo Berglund’s pioneering work to introduce Kullervo as a concert work was under way, there was scarcely any public awareness of Sibelius’s output prior to En saga. Nowadays, thankfully, the situation is very different, with his substantial corpus of early chamber music at last beginning to find the recognition it deserves. The works in this new JSW volume, written while Sibelius was a student in Vienna in 1890–91, bridge the gap between those early chamber works and Kullervo.