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.