Monthly Archives: November 2015

Sixth International Sibelius Conference, Hämeenlinna 2015


The Sixth International Jean Sibelius Conference will take place in at Verkatehdas in Hämeenlinna, Finland, from 4th to 8th December 2015.

The conference will gather eminent scholars from all over the world with a wide variety of presentations on many different aspects of Sibelius’s life and music.

The presentations, which will take place in two parallel sessions throughout, will be as follows:

  1. James Hepokoski: Early Sibelius, Primitivist-Modernism, ‘News of War’
  2. Les Black: Dorian Departure
  3. Aare Tool: Jean Sibelius and the Modes of Limited Transposition
  4. Benedict Taylor: Monotonality and Scalar Modulation in Sibelius’s Tapiola
  5. Philip Ross Bullock: Sibelius Reception in Britain, 1901–1939: Centre Periphery in the Musical Construction of the North
  6. Laura Gray: The Tipping Point and the Rise of the Sibelius Cult in England
  7. Helena Tyrväinen: Sibelius and the French Press in the 1920s: Initiatives, Mediators and Interpretations
  8. Edward Clark: Sibelius and contemporary composers
  9. Martti Laitinen: Why Kajanus went to St Petersburg
  10. Vesa Kurkela and Olli Heikkinen: Sibelius as popular composer: Music by Sibelius in Kajanus’s  popular concerts
  11. Vesa Sirén: (topic to be determined)
  12. Kaarina Kilpiö: Soundtrack for ‘The New Military Branch’. Jean Sibelius’s music in Finnish propaganda films during World War II
  13. Charris Efthimiou: On the instrumentation of bass and melody line in Jean Sibelius’s early symphonic poems (1892–1894)
  14. Pekka Helasvuo: The formation of the mode of expression of dynamic and articulation markings in the notation of Jean Sibelius
  15. Juhani Alesaro: Analyzing Sibelius’s Satz
  16. Barry Wiener: Dahlhaus’s Paradigm and Sibelius Reception
  17. Ferruccio Tammaro: War-Symphonies and Peace-Symphonies: Sibelius’s Fifth
  18. Antonin Servière: Reflecting Sibelius’s Legacy in Today’s Composer’s Mind
  19. Nors S. Josephson: Sibelius at the Crossroads: Old Paths Leading To New Creative Departures in His Second Symphony (1901–1902)
  20. Sakari Ylivuori: From a Bon vivant to a War Hero – The Narrative Structure of Sandels (Op. 28)
  21. Lauri Suurpää: Unconfirmed Pastoral and Denial of Threat in the Slow Movement of Sibelius’s First Symphony
  22. Olli Väisälä: Sibelius’s Revision of the First Movement of the Violin Concerto: Strengthening Tonal Structure while Removing Tonal Clichés
  23. Kimmo Sarje: Sibelius and the Modern
  24. Ron Weidberg: Sibelius and Schoenberg
  25. Daniel Grimley: ‘I sing another song’: Sibelius, Hofmannsthal and the Subjectivities
    of Jedermann
  26. Ilkka Oramo: Sibelius’s Eighth Symphony – fact and fiction
  27. Marc Vignal: Sibelius and Mahler
  28. Jorma Daniel Lünenbürger: Jean Sibelius and the Cello
  29. Tuija Wicklund: Sibelius and Böcklin
  30. Anna Pulkkis: Sibelius’s Loulou Andantino – a Souvenir Composition with a Mystery
  31. Timo Virtanen: Sibelius’s Sketches for the Violin Concerto
  32. Gustav Djupsjöbacka: There are several ways of putting it
  33. Carola Finkel: The metamorphoses of Svartsjukans nätter
  34. Sanna Iitti: The Representation of Emotions in the songs Våren flyktar hastigt and Svarta rosor
  35. Leah Broad: Forests, Fires, and Factories: Sibelius and the Mechanical
  36. Eero Tarasti: How Sibelius Became Sibelius –  Observations and Notes on the Emergence of His Style
  37. Tim Howell: Jean Sibelius: Progressive or Modernist?
  38. Tim Jackson: ‘The Company You Keep’: Recipients of the Honorary Doctorates from the 1936 Heidelberg Celebration – Sibelius and Those Honoured Alongside Him
  39. Mart Humal: Sibelius’s Incidental Music for The Tempest: Ariel’s Five Songs as a Cycle
  40. Veijo Murtomäki: Did Sibelius mean (some of) his miniature opuses to be taken as suites?
  41. Andrew Barnett: The BIS Sibelius Edition
  42. Benjamin T. Hilger: Sibelius’s Second Symphony Recordings – Tendencies of conducting within history

Among numerous live music performances that will take place during the conference is a concert by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu, featuring the winner of the Eleventh International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition. The works to be performed are Tapiola, the Violin Concerto and Symphony No. 2. To check ticket availability for the concert: click here.

On the organizing committee of the conference are Erkki Korhonen (chairman), Andrew Barnett, Anna Krohn, Veijo Murtomäki, Eero Tarasti and Timo Virtanen.



Storgårds conducts Sibelius in Birmingham

John Storgårds (Photo: © Marco Borggreve)
John Storgårds (Photo: © Marco Borggreve)

The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor John Storgårds will be performing an all-Sibelius programme in Birmingham on Thursday 10 December 2015 (7.30 pm) at Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

The programme will consist of the following works:
En saga
Violin Concerto
Karelia Suite
Symphony No. 7

The soloist in the Violin Concerto will be the winner of the 2015 International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition.

At 6.15 pm there will be a pre-concert conversation with John Storgårds.

Ticket prices start at £9.50, and can be booked online by clicking here, or by calling the Box Office on 0121 345 0600.

Docklands Sinfonia Sibelius Anniversary Concert


The Docklands Sinfonia conducted by Spencer Down will celebrate the 150th annivesary of Sibelius’s birth with a concert at St Anne’s, Limehouse, Three Colt Street, London, featuring the Karelia Suite and Lemminkäinen, on Friday 4th December at 7.30 pm.

The renowned author and illustrator James Mayhew will bring a special touch to the concert with live illustrations of the stories behind the music as the orchestra plays.

Docklands Sinfonia will also continue its strong track record of promoting new music with the world première of Michael Heath’s Cello Concerto, performed by the  London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Gregory Walmsley.

Jean Sibelius: Karelia Suite
Michael Heath: Cello Concerto (world première)
Jean Sibelius: Lemminkäinen
Docklands Sinfonia
Spencer Down conductor
Gregory Walmsley cello
James Mayhew illustrator

Illustration by James Mayhew
Illustration by James Mayhew

Docklands Sinfonia is young and pioneering orchestra which has become a major cultural force in the Docklands – bringing high quality music to the area, staging ground-breaking concerts and creating a lasting legacy by inspiring generations of young people. Since its formation in 2009, Docklands Sinfonia has enjoyed incredible success with performances for the Queen at Buckingham Palace and with Grammy-award winner Imogen Heap at the Royal Albert Hall. It has appeared on the BBC Radio 3 and BBC1.

The orchestra has recorded albums for leading artists such as Katie Melua and has performed with world-renowned classical artists such as Alison Balsom, Leonard Elschenbroich and Elin Manahan-Thomas as well as the English National Ballet, Royal Opera House and National Youth Theatre. Docklands Sinfonia aims to promote young musicians through commissioning new works and is committed to inspiring future generations of young people by introducing them to the joy of live orchestral music.

Spencer Down is the driving force behind Docklands Sinfonia. He has been orchestral director for high-profile events including a concert for the Queen in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace and the world premiere of Grammy award-winning singer Imogen Heap’s ‘Love the Earth’ at the Royal Albert Hall. He has worked with artists from leading organizations including the English National Ballet, Royal Opera House, London Symphony Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and is brass co-ordinator and assistant conductor at the Junior Guildhall.

Where and when
Friday 4th December at 7.30 pm.
St Anne’s, Limehouse, Three Colt Street, London E14 7HP
Tickets: £10 (Concessions) £12 (Advanced) £15 (On the door) – click here to book tickets.

Source: Docklands Sinfonia



Violin Concerto: Original Version performance material released


The Berlin-based publisher Robert Heinrich Lienau concluded a publishing contract agreement with Jean Sibelius in 1905. The first work included in the agreement was the Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47. After being criticized at its first performance on 8th February 1904, the concerto was withdrawn for revision. Out of respect for the composer’s intentions, the early version from 1904 could previously only be made public on rare occasions.

In keeping with the work carried out on the Jean Sibelius Complete Works Edition, and in order to meet the great interest of professionals in the 1904 version, the composer’s heirs and publisher have now decided to release it. This is a significant step not only for academia but also for performers and the public.

The early version of the violin concerto is generally regarded as more dramatic, virtuosic and Beethovenian than the revised version, as well as being harsher and more jagged. It exerts a peculiar charm and, together with the revised version of 1905, provides a unique insight into the workings of the composer.

Performance materials for the original 1904 version are available from:
Robert Lienau Musikverlag,
Am Dornbusch 24–26,
D-64390 Erzhausen, Germany.
Tel.: +49 (0) 6150 – 86775 – 0

Source: Robert Lienau Musikverlag Press Release

Sibelius 150th Anniversary Concerts in London

Mia Huhta (photo: © Heikki Tuuli)
Mia Huhta (photo: © Heikki Tuuli)

Two concerts featuring the Finnish soprano Mia Huhta will take place in London to mark the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’s birth, at Holy Trinity Church, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington.

First there will be an all-Sibelius concert on 6th December 2015 (Finnish Independence Day) at 6.30 pm. This will feature I Maestri Orchestra, conducted by Miguel Esteban & George Hlawiczka, and Mia Huhta will be the soloist in Luonnotar.

A second concert will take place in the same venue on 10th December at 7 pm. This will be a chamber concert at which Mia Huhta will be joined by Beatrice Philips (violin), Kati Raitinen (cello) and Bengt Forsberg (piano). Works to be performed include the Theme and Variations for solo cello (JS 195), Malinconia and Sibelius’s own piano arrangement of Finlandia.

Mia Huhta remarks: ‘For a long time my dream has been to give a recital in London that combines the musical legacy of Jean Sibelius and great chamber musicians. For Finland Sibelius was in his lifetime – and still is – a national treasure. We have chosen a wonderful collection of works by Sibelius. Songs represent a far more important side of his creative activity than is generally appreciated. The violin was his own instrument and his brother
Christian played the cello, which is a natural reason for very intimate and also experimental expression.’

Mia Huhta began her studies in classical singing in the Conservatory of Ostrobothnia in Kokkola, Finland, continuing at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. She has participated in numerous song competitions both in Finland and abroad; she has won the Vox Unica, Kangasniemi and Pentti Koskimies competitions and gained a special prize in the Lappeenranta song contest in 1996 and 1999. Both at the Wigmore Hall competition in London and at the Queen Sonja competition in Norway she reached the semi-finals. She works regularly with major Finnish orchestras and conductors and is often heard in opera. She has given many premières of Finnish vocal works, including Mikko Heiniö’s church opera Riddaren och Draken (The Knight and the Dragon), P.H. Nordgren’s Te Deum, Paavo Heininen’s Suomalainen laulukirja (Finnish songbook), Lotta Wennäkoski’s Ilta hurmaunut and Eero Hämeenniemi’s Laulun synty. She has also recorded extensively.

Listen to Mia Huhta singing Sibelius’s Säv, säv susa: click here.

I Maestri is a unique organisation that helps talented young conductors hone their skills through a programme of workshops, masterclasses and public concerts. 
Created in London in 2001 by music director George Hlawiczka and with the help of their patrons, Sir Neville Marriner and Jorma Panula, I Maestri enables conductors to work with professional musicians drawn from the ranks of the London orchestras, chamber ensembles and music colleges. Its inspiration was the Helsinki conducting academy under Jorma Panula and the Pierre Monteux Academy, where generations of conductors were nurtured because of having ‘an instrument’ to work with on a regular basis. The orchestra is also open to excellent amateur musicians who have the opportunity to play next to expert colleagues.

Bengt Forsberg is one of Sweden’s leading musicians, with a busy career encompassing solo piano performance, chamber music, conducting and piano accompaniment. He has maintained a long-standing musical partnership with the mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, resulting in many recordings including songs by Sibelius for the BIS complete Sibelius project.

Kati Raitinen has been solo cellist of the Royal Swedish Opera since 1995. She is an active chamber musician and with her string trio she has recently won the interpretation prize from the Swedish Royal Music Academy, given by the King of Sweden.

Beatrice Philips enjoys a busy freelance life as a chamber musician, soloist, orchestral player, leader and teacher. She is founder and artistic director of the Lewes Chamber Music Festival. She has played at numerous festivals, has broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and plays regularly with many leading ensembles in London.

Programme, 6th December:
Karelia Suite, Op. 11
Luonnotar, Op. 70
The Swan of Tuonela and Lemminkäinen’s Return from ‘Lemminkäinen’, Op. 22
Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52
Finlandia, Op. 26

Holy Trinity Church, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2BA
Orchestral concert: 6th December 2015, 6.30 pm
Chamber concert: 10th December 2015, 7 pm

Tickets (orchestral concert): click here

Northern rock…



Sibelius Humoresques in London

Sibelius’s rarely heard but exceptionally appealing Humoresques for violin and orchestra, Op. 87 and Op. 89, will be played at a London concert by Fenella Humphreys and Sinfonia Tamesa (leader: James Maggs) conducted by Tom Hammond on 14 November.

These pieces capture, as Sibelius’s biographer Erik Tawast­stjerna observed, ‘the lyrical, dancing soul of the violin’. Sibelius himslf said of the Humoresques that they show ‘the anguish of existence… fitfully lit up by the sun’.

Also on the programme is Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.

Sinfonia Tamesa is a London-based symphony orchestra founded in 2001. Directed and conducted by Tom Hammond, it is known for programming adventurous, challenging new repertoire alongside better-known orchestral works to produce interesting, accessible concerts.

Date: Saturday 14 November 2015
Time: 7.30 pm
Venue: St Sepulchre without Newgate (Musicians’ Church),
Holborn Viaduct, London EC1A 2DQ

Tickets:  £10/£8

Further information and tickets: click here.

Gothenburg’s Sibelius Birthday Tribute

Stenhammar and Sibelius in front of the old Concert Hall in Gothenburg, Sweden.
© Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0 / Göteborgs Symfoniker

‘I regard myself as having genuine friends in Gothenburg. To have them perform my new works will always be a pleasure and an honour for me.’ — Jean Sibelius

To mark Sibelius’s 150th birthday the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra will perform a complete cycle of his symphonies under it principal guest conductor, Kent Nagano, in the Gothenburg Concert Hall, Sweden. This will be the orchestra’s first such cycle in its home city. It has previously performed cycles in 1996 in Birmingham and London.


Sibelius has long held a special place in the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s programmes, and the composer was a close friend of the orchestra’s then chief conductor Wilhelm Stenhammar. The orchestra has performed the Second Symphony more than 150 times.

The concert series will begin on 29th November 2015 (6 pm) with a chamber concert by musicians from the orchestra, narrated by the actress Nina Zanjani. The programme will include music for violin and piano, string trio and quartet. The symphonies will be spread over three concerts on 2nd–4th December (each at 7.30 pm): Nos 3, 6 and 7 on 2nd December, Nos 1 and 5 on 3rd December and Nos 4 and 2 on 4th December.

Until 4th December there will also be a Sibelius exhibition in the Gothenburg Concert Hall.

The orchestra has also published a video of Sibelius’s Valse triste arranged for six double basses and performed by Charles DeRamus:

Further information (in Swedish): click here.
or contact Stefan Nävermyr, tel. 0046 31-726 53 45

Source: Göteborgs Symfoniker

New Sibelius novel published


A new novel about Sibelius, My Music, My Drinking & Me –€“ The Memoirs of Jean Sibelius by
Caroline J Sinclair, has been published as the second title in the ‘Famous Composers
Series’ from MAK Books.

Based on true events and told from Sibelius’€™s own point of view, My Music, My Drinking & Me – The Memoirs of Jean Sibelius depicts a turbulent and violent period in European history, when Finland is struggling to gain and maintain its independence. Sibelius is expected by many to be a spokesman for his country. However, he is uncomfortable with
the position thrust upon him; he has no desire to make political statements through his music, wanting only to depict the elemental forces of Finnish nature. On a more personal level, he is battling with  alcoholism; he believes that he needs alcohol to be able to write music, but does his drinking foster or hinder his creativity? Furthermore, if he does not give up drinking, it will cost him his marriage. Which is the stronger – his need to drink or his desire to save his marriage before it is too late?

My Music, My Drinking & Me is as much about a marriage as about music. In it, Caroline J Sinclair has drawn a vivid picture of Sibelius’s family life, and of the country that inspired him to compose.

Caroline J Sinclair , a graduate in modern languages, is an Oxford-based author who has a keen interest in classical music. She has done extensive research into Sibelius’€™s life and music, including sourcing information from his letters and diaries, enabling her to keep the story historically authentic and factually correct. Furthermore, having once lived in Finland, she is familiar with the Finnish language, culture and customs. Her first novel
was on the life of Ludwig van Beethoven, and she is currently working on the third book in this series of famous composers’€™ memoirs.

Format: printed paperback (ISBN 978-0-9527804-4-1) and ebook (ISBN 978-0-9527804-3-4) (ebook at present Kindle only)
Publisher: MAK Books, Oxford
Publisher contact: Mary Green,
Availability: all worldwide Amazon sites, plus independent retailers.
Amazon link:

Source: MAK Books press release

Hannu Lintu’s Sibelius cycle on DVD and Blu-ray


On the occasion of Jean Sibelius’s 150th birthday a new five-disc DVD edition from Arthaus Musik offers live recordings of the composer’s seven symphonies by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Hannu Lintu. The recordings were made in the Helsinki Music Centre. Each symphony is preceded by a documentary and an introduction, giving a new and modern perspective to the composer and his symphonies.

As a special feature the set includes eight ‘fictional short documentaries’ with both acted drama and animation tricks, giving a different perspective on Jean Sibelius. The focus is not on the music, but on the person. The commentator is the composer Kaija Saariaho. Other interviewees are experts from various fields of life; a doctor, a couples therapist, a wine connoisseur and a wilderness guide to name a few.

There are also introductions to each symphony. These documentary sections, hosted and narrated by Hannu Lintu, can also been seen in an hour-long separate programme. Also included is a detailed book about Sibelius’s life and work.

Catalogue number: Arthaus Musik 101796.
The set is also available on Blu-ray: 101797.
Orders can be placed at Arthaus Musik’s website: click here.

Source: Arthaus Musik