Monthly Archives: May 2024

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.

Click here to read the rest of this article.


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