Click here to read our review of the JSW critical edition scores of:
Pohjola’s Daughter, Op. 49
The Dryad, Op. 45 No. 1
Musik zu einer Szene
Dance Intermezzo, Op. 45 No. 2 (also early version: Tanz-Intermezzo Nr. 1)
Pan and Echo, Op. 53a
Jean Sibelius Works
SON 636: Series I (Orchestral Works) Vol. 13, edited by Timo Virtanen
Dalia Stasevska (Photo: © Veikko Kähkönen)
A rare work for narrator, choir and orchestra by Sibelius will be featured at the First Night of the BBC Proms 2023 (14 July), conducted by Dalia Stasevska. Snöfrid, Op. 29, a setting of words by Viktor Rydberg, dates from 1900 and was described by a reviewer after its premiere as making ‘an impression of great feeling and warmth; it seems so clear and inspired that it is undeniably to be numbered among Sibelius’s masterpieces’. This 14-minute piece is dramatic and lyrical by turns, with sumptuous melodies and an undercurrent of political allegory very typical of its time.
The concert also includes Finlandia, a new work by Bohdana Frolyak, Grieg’s Piano Concerto (solo: Paul Lewis) and Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
Othwewise Sibelius is represented at the 2023 Proms by his First Symphony, performed by the BBC Philhamonic under its principal conductor John Storgårds on 3 August.
General booking opens at 9am on Saturday 13 May:
— online at www.royalalberthall.com
— by phone on 020 7589 8212 (9am – 9pm daily 13–21 May and 9am – 5pm weekdays from 22 May)
— in person (daily 9am – 9pm).
Works by Sibelius at the 2023 BBC Proms
at the Royal Albert Hall in London:
Friday 14 July 2023 – Prom 1 (First Night)
Finlandia, Op. 26
Snöfrid, Op. 29
and music by Frolya, Grieg and Britten
Paul Lewis, piano / BBC Singers / BBC Symphony Chorus / BBC Symphony Orchestra /Dalia Stasevska
Thursday 3 August 2023 – Prom 26
Symphony No. 1
and music by Barry and Walton
BBC Philharmonic / John Storgårds
Full season listing, click here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/rrbp5v/by/date/2023
A new version of ‘Jean Sibelius’ by the eminent Italian Sibelius scholar Ferruccio Tammaro has been published by Libreria Musicale Italiana (Lim editrice srl; in Italian).
The original book (508 pages), the first Italian monograph about Sibelius, was issued by Eri (Turin) in 1984. The new version is considerably longer (850 pages), taking into account the much more extensive information now available and, above all, reflecting the fact that great artists like Sibelius always benefit from new opportunities for reflection and investigation.
After musical studies with Franco Donatoni (composition) and Azio Corghi (piano), Ferruccio Tammaro studied under Massimo Mila at Turin University, later becoming professor of history of modern and contemporary music at the same university. He has participated in numerous seminars and has contributed more than 70 items about Scandinavian and Finnish composers to DEUMM (Dizionario enciclopedico universale della musica e dei musicisti). His special interest in the symphonic genre has resulted in essays about the music of Vaughan Williams and Shostakovich, with the publication of the first book in Italian devoted to the latter (Le sinfonie di Šostakovič, Turin 1988). In addition, Ferruccio Tammaro has written books about the eighteenth-century symphony from Sammartini to Beethoven and about Tchaikovsky’s symphonies.
The publisher’s notes accompanying the book point out that Sibelius left us a legacy that still challenges the listener today. He was an artist always who was animated by a clear and strong inner temperament who in his old age, after seeing his nation finally become a truly independent nation, decided progressively to isolate himself so as not to have to breathe the foul haze that was then poisoning a large part of the European continent. Sibelius managed to position himself as a national musician without resorting to the dialect of folk songs and dances, creating works that are completely independent of fashion and clichés. His relationship with nature, represented for instance by the flight of migratory birds, gave his music its lifeblood and energy.
ISBN: 9788855431897. Language: Italian. Price: €48.00
A previously unknown song, believed to be by Sibelius, has come to light. With the title Venelaulu (Boat Song), and also known as ‘Teij-oo’, it has an anonymous text (most likely the composer’s own adaptation of a traditional poem) about berry pickers working the night shift, loading the berries they have picked onto boats. Daylight has come and they want their harvest to be counted up so that they can go home.
The original handwritten material for this song was found on a postcard concealed between pages of a travel guide to Jamaica in Ainola’s library. It is assumed that Sibelius acquired both the book and inspiration from the song on his trip to the USA in 1914, hence the provisional dating of the song to that year.
Opening bars of ‘Venelaulu’ (without text):
Experts from Sibelius One have seen the material and have pointed out that descending intervals of a fourth or a fifth are characteristic of the composer (here the opening motif contains a descending fourth), and that the ornamentation in bar 6 of the extract quoted above bears a resemblance to Sibelius’s violin writing in some of his wartime pieces for violin and piano; these factors would suggest that the piece is indeed authentic.
Other commentators have taken a more sceptical attitude. The singer Harry B comments: ‘The idea that Sibelius crossed the Atlantic and then wrote this Boat Song is, frankly, bananas.’
Harry B is 96.
Our Sibelius discography has been updated. To download the latest version (free of charge) please click here: Sibelius_Discography_20230325. More information on this project and other new release listings: click here for our Discography and Recordings page.
There have been further releases in the JSW critical edition of Sibelius’s complete works from Breitkopf & Härtel.
In the main edition the most recent releases are:
Sibelius’s œuvre contains four complete string quartets. The first three – in E flat major (JS 184, 1885), A minor (JS 183, 1889), B flat major (Op. 4, 1890) – date from his youth and study years. They remained unprinted until long after his death, and the String Quartet in E flat major was also not performed in public. By contrast the D minor ‘Voces intimae’ Quartet was published in 1909 and has long been acknowledged as one of his masterpieces. This volume also includes an incomplete early version of the B flat major Quartet’s first movement.
Edited by Pekka Helasvuo and Tuija Wicklund
SON 634 (€326.00) / 328 pages / ISMN: 979-0-004-80369-1
This volume contains five orchestral works from the period 1904–10, the largest and best-known of which is Pohjola’s Daughter. In addition, a fragment illustrating the unrealized plan of a symphonic poem called Luonnotar, which Sibelius reworked into Pohjola’s Daughter, appears as a facsimile. Musik zu einer Scène is now published for the first time.
Review in preparation
Edited by Timo Virtanen
SON 636 (€233.00) / 244 pages / ISMN: 979-0-004-80391-2
Also released separately, based on the scores already issued in the complete edition (edited by Anna Pulkkis and Folke Gräsbeck), are the two major piano trios from 1886–87, the ‘Hafträsk’ Trio and ‘Korpo’ Trio. These important scores are published for the first time in the JSW edition.
‘Hafträsk’ Trio in A minor, JS 207: EB 9448 (€39.90)
‘Korpo’ Trio in D major, JS 209: EB 9449 (€39.90)
A new paperback study score of the Lemminkäinen Suite has also been released, based on the Urtext (edited by Tuija Wicklund) previously issued in hardback (2013).
Lemminkäinen: PB 5576 (€39.90)
All of Sibelius’s symphonies except the Fifth have already appeared in the JSW edition. The Fifth is currently being prepared, edited by the project’s editor-in-chief Timo Virtanen.
Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony celebrates its centenary on 19 February 2023.
To celebrate the centenary, there will be a special concert in Turku, Finland, at which Leif Segerstam will conduct the symphony and Suite champêtre with the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra at the Turku Concert Hall at 4pm on Saturday 18 February, followed by an event at the Sibelius Museum in Turku on Sunday 19 February.
Suite champêtre was premiered together with the Sixth Symphony on 19 February 1923, by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the composer.
Along with the Saturday concert, there will be a lecture by Hannu Salmi, professor of cultural history (in Finnish). Tickets for the concert cost from €17.50 to €27.50.
The original hand-written score of the Sixth Symphony was graciously donated to Sibelius Museum by the composer himself in the autumn of 1955. To commemorate its centenary, this score will be made available to the public for a limited time, both physically as well as in the form of a digitalisation that can be browsed freely.
On Sunday 19 February the Sibelius Museum will be open from 11 am until 4 pm, with free admission. From 12 noon until 1.15 pm there will be a programme of events:
Folke Gräsbeck will perform the composer’s piano version of Suite champêtre
Andrew Barnett will give a talk on interpretations and recordings of the Sixth Symphony (in Swedish)
Timo Virtanen, editor-in-chief of the JSW critical edition, will talk about the Sixth Symphony and Sibelius in 1923 (in Finnish).
From 1.15 pm onwards the digital score will be available for browsing
Information about the Saturday concert: click here
Information about the event at the Sibelius Museum: click here
Jean Sibelius – Dei ghiacci e del fuoco. Vita e musica (Jean Sibelius – Of ice and fire. Life and music) by Alessandro Zignani, a new book in Italian, has been published by Zecchini Editore.
Despite accusations of post-romantic epigonism, Sibelius’s music celebrates the eternity of a primeval nature where the cycles of the seasons are renewed, transcended rather than denied, in an acceptance of Fate that smacks of stoic serenity. In Sibelius, European civilisation confronts its own origins in the energies that shape the ice, the Arctic winds capable of fixing time in perennial harmonies, crystals eternally fixed in stone. His originality is subtle, difficult to navigate, and just as complex is his musical style made of resonances emanating from the basalts of the earth, tensions far removed from the rationality of European civilisation. In an age of transition such as ours, Sibelius returns with his enigmas to loom as a disturbing prophet. Isolating himself among lakes and forests, in his last thirty years he found the path to a silence that his music, perhaps, had evoked from the very beginning: a salvific return to nature, a benign divinity.
The prolific writer, musicologist, playwright and linguist Alessandro Zignani was born in Rimini in 1961. He is a founder member and on the board of directors of the Sibelius Society Italia.
ISBN: 978-88-6540-397-6. VIII+256 pages; 17x24cm. Price: €30.00.
Purchase link – click here: https://www.zecchini.com/jean-sibelius-dei-ghiacci-e-del-fuoco-vita-e-musica
A Performance Guide to the Songs of Jean Sibelius, by Kathleen Roland-Silverstein, is to be published by Oxford University Press (anticipated release date: late 2024). The book is intended to be an aid to performers of all of Sibelius’s songs, with phonetic and word-for-word translations, historical information about his poets and singers, a guide to Finnish and Finland-Swedish lyric diction and performance recommendations for each song opus.
Kathleen Roland-Silverstein is also the author of Romanser: 25 Swedish Art Songs with Guide to Swedish Lyric Diction (Gehrmans Musikförlag, 2013) and is the music reviewer for the Journal of Singing (National Association of Teachers of Singing). In addition, she is a highly regarded concert soloist and specialist in the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, and has been a featured singer with many music festivals, including the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Britten-Pears Institute and the Tanglewood Music Festival. International performances include concerts in Sweden, Finland, Vietnam, Cambodia and Germany. She is a member of the faculty at Syracuse University in New York, at the Setnor School of Music.