Valse triste – first performance

Jean Sibelius’s famous Valse triste was performed on 14 April 1904 in Vaasa, ten days before its purported premiere in Helsinki

Sheahan Virgin


Jean Sibelius’s Valse triste is one of his most popular compositions. It began life as ‘Tempo di valse lente – Poco risoluto’, its original purpose having been to accompany a dance scene in Death (Kuolema), a three-act, Symbolist play by Sibelius’s brother-in-law Arvid Järnefelt (1861–1932). The play was premiered on 2 December 1903 at the Finnish Theatre in Helsinki, with Sibelius conducting. Shortly thereafter, he refashioned the waltz into a standalone concert piece, to which he gave the now-familiar name Valse triste. Most notably, he altered the ending and added parts for flute, clarinet, horn and timpani.

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Sibelius on original instruments

Finnish Baroque Orchestra
Finnish Baroque Orchestra (photo: © Jaakko Paarvala)

Later this month the Finnish Baroque Orchestra (FiBO) and the conductor Tomas Djupsjöbacka continue their period sound exploration of the music of Jean Sibelius in a concert featuring his Violin Concerto and Fourth Symphony. In the orchestra of Sibelius’s time, the string instruments used gut strings and the woodwind had different mechanisms from today. The Vienna horns and the German trombones also have an impact on the sound. Since Sibelius’s own time, neither of these works have been performed on instruments like the ones that were used then.

Founded initially as the Sixth Floor Orchestra, the Finnish Baroque Orchestra has played an essential role in the emergence of the early music movement in Northern Europe. FiBO has been both an innovator and leader in the early music scene in Nordic countries since its inception in 1989. The ensemble’s repertoire is grounded in baroque music, but ongoing revelations in historical performance research have encouraged the orchestra to broaden its horizons to both much earlier and much later music. This includes everything from medieval music to performing Jean Sibelius on period instruments, as well as a wide variety of newly commissioned works. FiBO is the orchestra in residence at the historic House of Nobility in Helsinki, Finland and tours widely across Finland and internationally. FiBO has received awards such as the Finnish Broadcasting Company’s Finnish Musical Act of the Year and Disc of the Year.

Known as a versatile musician with strong roots in chamber music, Tomas Djupsjöbacka is the founding cellist of the string quartet Meta4 as well as a member of the renowned Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Since his conducting debut in 2013 with the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Djupsjöbacka has appeared with most Finnish orchestras. He has been orincipal conductor and artistic director of Vaasa City Orchestra since 2021.

The soloist in the Violin Concerto is Ilya Gringolts, one of the absolute top violinists of today and a long time collaborator of FiBO. After studying violin and composition with Tatiani Liberova and Zhanneta Metallidi in St Petersburg, he attended the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied with Itzhak Perlman. He won the International Violin Competition Premio Paganini in 1998. Ilya Gringolts is a professor at the Zurich University of the Arts and was appointed to the renowned Accademia Chigiana in Siena in 2021.

Friday 24.05.2024, 7.00 pm, Verkatehdas, Hämeenlinna
Saturday 25.05.2024, 6.00 pm, Helsinki Music Centre

Tickets and more information: click here

Sibelius at the 2024 Proms

BBC Proms 2024 visual

The programmes for the BBC Proms 2024 have been announced. Sibelius is represented at the following concerts (links to BBC website beneath each concert listing):

Friday 26 July 2024 at 7.30 pm
The Glasshouse International Centre for Music, Gateshead (Proms around the UK)
Germaine Tailleferre: Little Suite
Jean Sibelius: Violin Concerto
Antonín Dvořák: Symphony No. 8
Alena Baeva, violin
Royal Northern Sinfonia / Dinis Sousa

Wednesday 7 August 2024 at 7.30 pm
Royal Albert Hall, London
Robert Schumann: Genoveva – overture
Jean Sibelius: Pohjola’s Daughter
Hans Abrahamsen: Horn Concerto (UK premiere)
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4
Stefan Dohr, horn
BBC Philharmonic / John Storgårds

Saturday 24 August 2024 at 7.30 pm
Royal Albert Hall
Julius Eastman: Symphony No. 2, ‘The Faithful Friend: The Lover Friend’s Love for the Beloved’ UK premiere
Gustav Mahler: Rückert-Lieder
Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 5
Jamie Barton, mezzo-soprano
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Dalia Stasevska

Sunday 25 August 2024 at 7.30 pm
Royal Albert Hall
Lara Poe: Laulut maaseudulta (Songs from the Countryside) (BBC commission: world premiere)
Jean Sibelius: The Wood Nymph
Gustav Holst: The Planets
Anu Komsi, soprano / Royal College of Music Chamber Choir
Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra / Sibelius Academy Symphony Orchestra / Sakari Oramo

Sunday 8 September 2024 at 4 pm
Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (Proms Around the UK)
Doreen Carwithen: The Men of Sherwood Forest – overture
Elizabeth Kelly: Lace Machine (BBC commission: world premiere)
Sergei Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Erich Wolfgang Korngold: The Adventures of Robin Hood, suite
Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 3
Clare Hammond, piano
BBC Concert Orchestra / Anna-Maria Helsing

Sibelius Home Assistant

Sibelius Homa Assistanrt image

New and exclusively from Sibelius One:
the Sibelius Home Assistant!

Inspired by the runaway success of devices such as Alexa and Echo, the Sibelius Home assistant lets you instantly play music, control your smart home, get information, news, weather and more using just your voice.

The assistant makes use of the latest AI and robotics technology, and is actived by the command word ‘Janne’. To play music, for example Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony, simply say ‘Janne – play your Fourth Symphony’, and a recording of the work in question will immediately start to play through your hi-fi system. In addition, the assistant’s arms will ‘conduct’ in time with the music.

The voice of ‘Janne’ has been created from original sound recordings of Sibelius’s voice (e.g. his 1948 radio interview and assorted other recordings), digitally resampled and combined to produce an infinite variety of words and phrases.

Using methods based on the classic 1960s Supermarionation technology, internal solenoids are used to synchronize the assistant’s lips with whatever it is saying. This also works when you ask the assistant to play a recording of Sibelius’s songs.

The Sibelius Home Assistant is 91 cm high and is designed to resemble Jean Sibelius in every respect (except height). Unlike rival virtual assistants, it is capable of independent movement and can thus assist with domestic tasks in ways hitherto unknown. For example, a powerful vacuum cleaner is built into the left sleeve, so the simple command: ‘Janne – vacuum my living room’ will initiate a thorough cleaning routine lasting just over 20 minutes. The right sleeve houses a drinks dispenser, so the command ‘Janne – pour me a drink’ will supply you with a chilled glass of champagne.

The Sibelius Home Assistant can be ordered exclusively from Sibelius One, price just GBP.499.00 plus VAT and delivery. Click here for order form.


JSW String Quartets review (link)


Jean Sibelius:
String Quartets in E flat major, A minor, B flat major and D minor ‘Voces intimae’
Breitkopf & Härtel Jean Sibelius Werke SON 634
Edited by Pekka Helasvuo and Tuija Wicklund

Review by Andrew Barnett & Ian Maxwell

Some years ago it was widely believed that Sibelius wrote only one string quartet – Voces intimae – a work that remained a relative rarity on international concert programmes, although it was held in high regard by connoisseurs of the genre. In 1931 Cecil Gray wrote that it ‘ranks with the finest achievements of Sibelius’s middle period […] beautifully written for the medium and exceedingly effective in performance’… Click here to continue reading this article.

Echoes of Finland: Sibelius in Sight and Sound

Echoes of Finl;and

Violinist Lucilla Rose Mariotti will curate and perform works by Sibelius at the Performance Hall, Royal College of Music, London on Monday 4 March at 6 pm. Also appearing at the concert are Anna Crawford, cello, and Alexander Doronin, piano.

‘Echoes of Finland: Sibelius in Sight and Sound’ aims to transcend traditional boundaries by combining live performances of Sibelius’s piano trios with an immersive experience that engages the senses. Drawing inspiration from the Finnish landscape, the project incorporates elements of nature and synaesthesia to create a multi-sensory journey for the audience.

Lucilla Rose Mariotti is pursuing an artist diploma in violin performance at the Royal College of Music in London and is the Carne Trust Junior Fellow for 2023/24. She writes: ‘As part of my Fellowship project, I have focused on projects related to synaesthesia and music […] I have a deep affection for Sibelius’s music and am a member of the Sibelius Society in Italy. During a visit to Finland, I was particularly fascinated by the Finnish landscape, and since then, I have drawn inspiration from it.’

Lucilla Rose Mariotti

Jean Sibelius:
Piano trio in C major, JS 208, ‘Lovisa Trio’
Water Droplets for violin and cello, JS 216
Piano trio in D major, JS 209, ‘Korpo Trio’

This concert is part of a series showcasing Junior Fellows from the RCM’s Artist Diploma programme.

Further information and ticket reservations:

Lucilla Rose Mariotti will also perform Sibelius’s Violin Concerto on Saturday 16 March (7.30 pm) with the Kew Sinfonia conducted by Daniel Hogan at St Anne’s Church, Kew, Richmond upon Thames. Also in the programme is music by Glinka and Nielsen. Further information and ticket reservations:

JSW edition: Sibelius Piano Quintet


The latest release in the JSW (Jean Sibelius Werke) complete critical edition of Sibelius’s music has been published, containing one of the highlights of the composer’s chamber music output: the Piano Quintet in G minor, JS 159.

This is Sibelius’s only finished work in this genre and was completed in Berlin in the spring of 1890. Like so many of his early works, the Quintet remained unpublished during his lifetime, first appearing in print from Edition Wilhelm Hansen in 1993. Moreover, Sibelius never heard his Quintet performed in concert. It was not until the centenary of his birth that the entire work was performed in public for the first time at the Turku Music Festival. In 1890 only partial performances took place, without the composer present; among newspaper reviews at the time, ‘Bis’ Wasenius in Hufvudstadsbladet (May 1890) wrote: ‘Mr Sibelius repeatedly gives proof of the increased value of his extraordinary compositional talents’, and Åbo Underrättelser (October 1890) noted that ‘Jean Sibelius […] precisely in this creation has achieved common and justified acclaim as a very eminent compositional talent’.

In addition to the five movements that constitute the Quintet in its final form, another Scherzo movement has survived and is published as an appendix in this volume. The editor is Anna Pulkkis.

SON 637 – Price € 217.00
More information and orders:

ChB-5390 cover

Also released is a volume of six part songs for female choir, using the Urtext from the previously released volume SON 617 of the JSW Complete Edition edited by Sakari Ylivuori. The pieces were written at different times and for different occasions, and vary both in the language of their texts (Finnish and Swedish) and in length and number of voices. Nevertheless, they form a coherent and interesting set of moderate difficulty throughout, making Sibelius as a composer accessible to smaller female choirs and ensembles. The works included are:

Kotikaipaus, JS 111 (text: Walter von Konow’)
Kansakoululaisten marssi, JS 103 (text: Onnen Pekka)
Kantat, JS 107 (text: Walter von Konow)
Soi kiitokseksi Luojan, Op. 23 No. 6 (text: August Valdemar Forsman)
Nejden andas from Op. 30 (text: Zachris Topelius)
Terve, Ruhtinatar from JS 104 (text: Zachris Topelius)

ChB 5390 – Price € 8.90
More information and orders:


Hannu Lintu to become the Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s artistic partner

Hannu Lintu photo
Hannu Lintu
[Photo by Veikko Kähkönen (source:]

In the autumn of 2025, conductor Hannu Lintu will become the artistic partner of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. The contract will be valid until further notice, and Lintu will conduct four concert weeks a year in Lahti. He will also serve as artistic director of the International Sibelius Festival.

Maija Kylkilahti, the Lahti Symphony Orchestra’s general manager, is delighted with the appointment. ‘There is an obvious rapport between Hannu, the orchestra and the audience, which can be seen and heard in the end result. We are delighted that he would like to work more closely with us.’

Hannu Lintu remarks: ‘I have been working with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra for more than two decades. Each concert has convinced me afresh that the orchestra is exceptionally talented and ambitious. At this stage, a closer relationship seems natural. I am particularly excited about the opportunity to work on the Sibelius Festival programme.’

Hannu Lintu will next appear with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra in October. Among the other orchestras he will conduct this year are the Chicago and Boston Symphony Orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. This summer he will conduct a new production of Debussy’s Pélleas and Mélisande at the Bavarian State Opera.

The current principal conductor Dalia Stasevska’s term will end in the spring of 2025. Hannu Lintu will not be a direct replacement for her, and the orchestra will aim to find a new principal conductor in the near future.