Sibelius letters at auction (updated)

Two typed letters, signed (‘Jean Sibelius’) in pencil, to Sir Thomas Beecham, and a telegram, were offered for auction at Sotheby’s (Sale L20403).

Bidding in the Music, Continental Books and Medieval Manuscripts auction on 7 July 2020 opened at 2 pm (UK time).

The Sibelius item was Lot 37 and sold for GBP. 1,750, well above the estimate of GBP 1,000–1,200.

Further information: click here

A symphonic tribute to Sibelius

The young Finnish composer Luukas Hiltunen has just completed his Symphony No. 1 for full orchestra. The project took almost eighteen months (started on 22 February 2019, finished on 26 June 2020). The score consists of 72 pages, and the work plays for approx. 30 minutes. There are three movements: an Andante espressivo first movement in A minor, a scherzo (Allegretto grazioso) with trio (Moderato assai e sempre espressivo), and an extensive finale (Andante sostenuto). It is scored for 2 flutes (both doubling piccolos), 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, percussion (snare drum, cymbals and bass drum), harp and strings.

Luukas Hiltunen has listened to the music of Sibelius ever since he was a small boy, and has become familiar with his style of writing music for orchestra. ‘I’m very proud of the finale, it’s definitely the most advanced and complex musical structure I have written so far’, writes Hiltunen, describing it as ‘a musical journey from darkness to light, ending up with a solemn hymn [an original composition, not an arrangement]… an uninterrupted 15-minute whole, almost like a tone poem inside a symphony, without any external source of inspiration. Therefore it comes very close to Sibelius’s En saga, I think; it creates a unique and every time a different imaginary musical journey, a metamorphosis full of themes that develop and continue imperceptibly, with logical transitions between recognizable states of mind (leitmotifs).’ The music is very approachable; Sibelian touches include the use of triplets, syncopated horn writing and the ways he uses the lower strings, and the work has a noticeably melancholic Finnish character, although it does not make use of direct quotations from folk music.

Hiltunen has been in touch with the National Youth Symphony Orchestra of Finland (Sinfoniaorkesteri Vivo) and its chief conductor Erkki Lasonpalo concerning a possible world première performance.

Luukas Hiltunen has previously made arrangements for symphony orchestra of Sibelius’s organ works Intrada and Surusoitto, and a string quartet version of the Scène d’amour from Scaramouche.

Instagram: luukas_hiltunen_musician
Music publisher (Scène d’amour): Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen

Hallé Sibelius Symphony Cycle 2021

The Hallé Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder have scheduled a complete cycle of Sibelius symphonies plus other orchestral works at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, for 2021.

Sir Mark Elder considers Sibelius a singularly important composer for British music-lovers. His music is embedded in the Hallé’s history with Barbirolli, Beecham, Harty and Richter all advocates. This is the Hallé’s and Sir Mark Elder’s second Sibelius cycle, featuring all the symphonies, a selection of tone poems and works for violin and orchestra. Theviolin soloists is one of the Hallé’s associate artists, Henning Kraggerud.

Thursday 27 May 2021 — 7.30pm
Night Ride and Sunrise
Violin Concerto
Symphony No. 1
Henning Kraggerud, violin

Saturday 29 May 2021 — 7.30pm
Pohjola’s Daughter
Symphony No. 3
Symphony No. 2

Thursday 3 June 2021 — 7.30pm
Symphony No. 4
Four Humoresques
Symphony No. 5
Henning Kraggerud, violin

Saturday 5 June 2021 — 7.30pm
The Oceanides
Symphony No. 6
Symphony No. 7

Booking for the 2020–21 season is not yet open. As soon as tickets are available, the orchestra will update its website with full details.

Source: Hallé website.

Sibelius Violin Competition postponed

The 12th International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition, originally set to take place in Helsinki in late November and early December 2020, has been rescheduled for 18–29 May 2022. This postponement is caused by the global uncertainty concerning possible travel and assembly restrictions imposed to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

To ensure the fairness of the postponement procedure for all applicants, the 2022 competition will be open to all violinists born in or after 1990.

Lauri Ratia, chairman of the Sibelius Society of Finland and the competition committee, remarks: ‘The safety and health of our competitors, their local hosts, the numerous musicians and staff involved and of course our audience is of utmost importance to us. We are very grateful to everyone involved in organising the competition and to our sponsors for joining us in building this magnificent competition again in 2022.’”

Further information:

Päivi Pousar, Secretary General
phone: +358 40 7104 217

Lauri Ratia, Chairman of the Competition Committee
phone: +358 50 2922

Source: Sibelius Violin Competition website

Stasevska to join Lahti Symphony Orchestra in 2021

Dalia Stasevska (Photo: © Nikolaj Lund)

The Lahti Symphony Orchestra has appointed Dalia Stasevska as its new principal conductor with effect from the autumn of 2021, when Dima Slobodeniouk’s tenure ends. The Lahti Sports and Culture Committee reached this decision at a meeting on 20 May 2020. Stasevska’s contract term extends until the end of the spring season in 2024, and from 2021 she will also take on the role of artistic director of the orchestra’s international Sibelius Festival. Stasevska, whose international career is making rapid headway, has also been principal guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London since 2019.

‘For me, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra has long held a very special position’, says Dalia Stasevska. ‘In Lahti there’s a tremendous amount of potential; the orchestra’s players are inspired, they are minded to do great things and they have the capacity to play repertoire in different styles without prejudice. It’s also a great pleasure to continue the Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s important work with the music of Sibelius. It’s a great honour for me to hold the position of this orchestra’s principal conductor and I believe that together we will achieve great, new things!’

Teemu Kirjonen, general manager of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, remarks: ‘Dalia Stasevska is one of Finland’s most sought-after conductors all over the world at the moment. Her visits to Lahti have been great experiences for the audience and also for the orchestra, and we have really high hopes concerning our future collaboration.’

In the coming autumn Dima Slobodeniouk will begin his last concert season as principal conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. ‘Slobodeniouk has made a significant contribution to the orchestra’s artistic development and to the enrichment of its repertoire, and Stasevska will be able to continue this process in a natural way’, Kirjonen comments; he feels that the future cooperation will also prove advantageous for the continuation of recording and touring activities.

‘I believe that Dalia has the ability to understand the aesthetics of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and her way of working fits in with the high work principles of the orchestra’, says Dima Slobodeniouk. ‘I hope that under Dalia’s direction the Lahti Symphony Orchestra will become an even more diverse orchestra and grow both “upwards” into the world at large and “downwards” to strengthen its roots as Lahti’s own orchestra.’

Source: Lahti Symphony Orchestra press release

Favourite composer: Sibelius – a minute with Dalia Stasevska

Sibelius Conference 2020 postponed

The Organizing Committee of the 7th International Jean Sibelius Conference (previously scheduled to take place on 7–9 September 2020) has published the following important announcement for all participants:

Dear participant of the 7th International Sibelius Conference,

The Finnish Government has announced certain concessions to the restrictions imposed in Finland due to the COVID-19 disease, but the pandemic situation worldwide is difficult and may still remain so for several months or even longer. Because of the high health risks caused by travelling and social gatherings and various unpredictable practical consequences of the pandemic, the Organizing Committee has decided that the 7th International Sibelius Conference will be postponed tentatively to early September 2021. The precise dates and other details will be notified as soon as possible. The duration, place and programme of the Conference will remain the same as announced earlier, but we kindly ask for your understanding for possible minor adjustments to the programme.

We hope that you all stay well and safe in these difficult times and look forward to seeing you in Hämeenlinna in 2021.

The Organizing Committee of the 7th International Sibelius Conference

Sibelius on YouTube

Images from YouTube

Even if the coronavirus crisis means that in many countries concerts are cancelled, you can still enjoy virtual concerts online.

And even though many YouTube videos feature well-known commercial recordings, there are also plenty of excellent concert recordings available, often from performers who have not recorded the music on CD but play it with freshness and excitement.

We have added a page on this website containing links to some of our favourite Sibelius highlights on YouTube. The page will be updated with more recommendations. Already it includes performances of all seven symphonies, Kullervo, the Violin Concerto and several tone poems.

To qualify for inclusion, a performance must be a concert performance or a studio performance not released on disc. It must also be an original work by Sibelius, not a third-part arrangement. Ideally (but not essentially) it will include video of the performance rather than still images.

Click here for our YouTube Sibelius highlights.

Sibelius Conference 2020 – Important message

The Organizing Committee of the 7th International Jean Sibelius Conference (scheduled to take place on 7–9 September 2020) has published the following important announcement for all participants:

Dear participant of the 7th International Sibelius Conference,

The Finnish Government has announced a state of emergency that has led to strict restrictions in Finland until 13 May 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the state of emergency may also be prolonged after that date.

The pandemic together with its repercussions may affect  arrangements for the Conference both on the organizers’ and participants’ side. Therefore, even if the restrictions were removed or moderated, the Organizing Committee has to assess whether arranging the Conference in September is realistic.

Because the Finnish Government will make new decisions about the state of emergency by 13 May 2020, the Organizing Committee will also decide at that time whether the Conference will be held in September 2020, or whether it is cancelled or postponed, and will inform participants about the decision by 15 May.

If  the Conference can be arranged in September, please note that the registration form should be sent and the participation fee paid by 31 May. Participants giving a paper in the Conference will receive guidelines for writing the article by 15 May, if the Conference takes place as planned.

Wishing you good health and safety,

The Organizing Committee of the 7th International Jean Sibelius Conference
Contact person: Anna Krohn (click here to e-mail)

Relevant documents (click to download):
Conference programme
Letter to participants (published before coronavirus restrictions)
Registration Form


Socially distanced Sibelius

The Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s concerts are currently cancelled owing to coronavirus/Covid-19, but the orchestra has recorded Sibelius’s Finlandia, each player performing at home and using mobile phones as the recording equipment.

Click here to enjoy this unique performance!

Thanks to the orchestra for making this recording available – and stay safe and healthy!