Lahti Independence Day Concert online

Dima Slobodeniouk and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra        Photo: © Maarit Kytöharju

Owing to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, the Finnish Independence Day concert by the Lahti Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dima Slobodeniouk will this year take place online.

The concert can be heard on Sunday 6 December at 3 pm Finnish time (1 pm UK time).

Sibelius: Symphony No. 2
Sibelius: Finlandia
Pacius (arr. Kajanus): Maamme
Duration: approx. 1 hour

Click here for a link to the concert.

Concert from Ainola online

Ainola (photo: © SIbelius One)

A concert from Sibelius’s home, Ainola, will be made available to listen to online on  8 December 2020, Jean Sibelius birthday. The concert will be accessible on Ainola’s website until 8 January 2021, and after that it can be heard on YouTube.

Miina and Mihkel Järvi will play music by Sibelius for violin and piano, and Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Pärt.

Miina and Mikhel Järvi
(Photos: Ainola website)

Miina Järvi (b. 1983) started to play the violin at the age of four in Tallinn. In 1995 she continued her studies in Lahti, Finland with Pertti Sutinen and, from 2003, at the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki with Erkki Kantola and  Mari Tampere-Bezrodny, graduating in 2010. She has enjoyed competition success and  has participated in many masterclasses. She  performs around Europe as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player, and has arranged her own chamber music festival in Estonia.

Mihkel Järvi began his piano studies in 1992 at the Tallinn Music High School. In 1995, he enrolled at the Päijät-Häme Conservatoire in Lahti, and in 2004 at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. He has also studied at the Salzburg Mozarteum and in numerous masterclasses. He has won prizes in numerous competitions and has performed as a soloist all over Europe. He is an active chamber musician and one of the organisers of the Lihula Music Days.

The duration of the concert is approx. 45 minutes and it can be heard on Ainola’s website at 6 pm Finnish time (UTC+2; 4 pm UK time).

Scaramouche – Sibelius’s horror story

Einar Rinne as Scaramouche
(© Finnish Theatre Museum Archive)

We are delighted to annouce the publication of a comprehensive article by Eija Kurki about Sibelius’s ballet-pantomime Scaramouche (1913, text by Poul Knudsen). This article is based on extensive new research and gives a detailed account of the historical background, the genesis of the music, its performance history and much more. A full list of sources is included.

Eija Kurki D. Phil. published her dissertation Satua, kuolemaa ja eksotiikkaa. Jean Sibeliuksen vuosisadan alun näyttämömusiikkiteokset (Fairy-tale, Death and Exoticism. Jean Sibelius’s Theatre Music from the Beginning of the 20th Century) in 1997. She has written numerous articles in various specialist publications both in Finland and internationally (e.g. Sibelius Studies, Cambridge University Press 2001).

The article is an expanded version of the essay published in Sibelius One’s Magazine in January 2020.

Please click here to read the article online or download it as a pdf file.

Robert Layton 1930–2020

Robert Layton at the 2010 Sibelius Conference
at his alma mater, Worcester College Oxford.

It is with great sadness that we record the death of the musicologist and distinguished Sibelius expert Robert Layton.

Robert Layton studied music at Worcester College, Oxford, under Edmund Rubbra and Egon Wellesz and went on to study at the universities of Uppsala and Stockholm. For much of his long career he worked for the BBC, giving talks and producing concerts. He also wrote reviews for Gramophone magazine and was one of the authors of the renowned Penguin Record Guide alongside Ivan March and Edward Greenfield.

Robert Layton’s excellent ‘Sibelius’ volume in Dent’s Master Musicians Series

He was known for his love of Nordic and French music, and was a distinguished expert on composers including Sibelius, Nielsen and Berwald. His Sibelius volume in Dent’s Master Musicians Series (1965, rev. 1978) has remained one of the most insightful, readable and most frequently quoted introductions to Sibelius’s music, and his three-volume English translation of Erik Tawaststjerna’s Sibelius biography is an indispensable contribution to Sibelius scholarship. In recognition of his work he was awarded the Sibelius medal and became a Knight of the Order of the White Rose of Finland.

Layton’s sense of humour was often understated but sophisticated and very keen. Seemingly embarrassed once by the clonking of some wine bottles in his bag as he arrived at a concert in Helsinki’s Kallio Church, he immediately remarked: ‘I always feel a little embarrassed taking wine into a church – but I don’t see why I should be; after all, they do dispense the stuff.’ His knowledge and wisdom will be greatly missed.

Robert Layton
2 May 1930 – 9 November 2020


Sibelius songs – an Italian guide

A book by the Italian pianist Marina Cesarale and Finnish tenor Eero Lasorla about Sibelius’s songs has been published. The book features an Italian translation of all the song texts and a brief analysis of each one. It is the first and only book on this subject in Italy , and is published by LIM (Libreria Musicale Italiana), available in bookshops since late June 2020.

Whereas there are many Italian translations available of for German Lieder, French chansons and Spanish canciones, very few exist for Northern European music. The texts are designed to help the listener or performer grasp the meaning of the poetic texts, aiming to create a correspondence between the Finnish or Swedish vocabulary and its Italian counterpart. The book includes a discography and a table of phonetics.

Price: 28.00 euro
Language: Italian
ISBN: 9788855430296
Further details and orders: click here

New arrangement of The Swan of Tuonela

A new arrangement for cor anglais and organ by Matthias Arter of The Swan of Tuonela has been published by Breitkopf & Härtel.

The Swan of Tuonela is the most famous of the four symphonic poems that Jean Sibelius assembled under the title Lemminkäinen, Op. 22. It is one of the most beautiful and expressive solo pieces ever composed for cor anglais. This edition aims to bring the piece into churches, where it will sound splendidly thanks to its calm style and the wide-ranging melody. No changes have been made in the cor anglais part. The organ part has been notated in such a way that it can be played on almost any organ, although a romantic organ with appropriate tonal and dynamic possibilities is recommended.

Breitkopf & Härtel EB 9376 – Price €17.90

Source : Breitkopf & Härtel

Sibelius letters at auction (updated)

Two typed letters, signed (‘Jean Sibelius’) in pencil, to Sir Thomas Beecham, and a telegram, were offered for auction at Sotheby’s (Sale L20403).

Bidding in the Music, Continental Books and Medieval Manuscripts auction on 7 July 2020 opened at 2 pm (UK time).

The Sibelius item was Lot 37 and sold for GBP. 1,750, well above the estimate of GBP 1,000–1,200.

Further information: click here

A symphonic tribute to Sibelius

The young Finnish composer Luukas Hiltunen has just completed his Symphony No. 1 for full orchestra. The project took almost eighteen months (started on 22 February 2019, finished on 26 June 2020). The score consists of 72 pages, and the work plays for approx. 30 minutes. There are three movements: an Andante espressivo first movement in A minor, a scherzo (Allegretto grazioso) with trio (Moderato assai e sempre espressivo), and an extensive finale (Andante sostenuto). It is scored for 2 flutes (both doubling piccolos), 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, percussion (snare drum, cymbals and bass drum), harp and strings.

Luukas Hiltunen has listened to the music of Sibelius ever since he was a small boy, and has become familiar with his style of writing music for orchestra. ‘I’m very proud of the finale, it’s definitely the most advanced and complex musical structure I have written so far’, writes Hiltunen, describing it as ‘a musical journey from darkness to light, ending up with a solemn hymn [an original composition, not an arrangement]… an uninterrupted 15-minute whole, almost like a tone poem inside a symphony, without any external source of inspiration. Therefore it comes very close to Sibelius’s En saga, I think; it creates a unique and every time a different imaginary musical journey, a metamorphosis full of themes that develop and continue imperceptibly, with logical transitions between recognizable states of mind (leitmotifs).’ The music is very approachable; Sibelian touches include the use of triplets, syncopated horn writing and the ways he uses the lower strings, and the work has a noticeably melancholic Finnish character, although it does not make use of direct quotations from folk music.

Hiltunen has been in touch with the National Youth Symphony Orchestra of Finland (Sinfoniaorkesteri Vivo) and its chief conductor Erkki Lasonpalo concerning a possible world première performance.

Luukas Hiltunen has previously made arrangements for symphony orchestra of Sibelius’s organ works Intrada and Surusoitto, and a string quartet version of the Scène d’amour from Scaramouche.

Instagram: luukas_hiltunen_musician
Music publisher (Scène d’amour): Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen