Test your knowledge of Sibelius trivia with this quiz to kick off the composer’s 150th anniversary year!
Part 1: Life and Times
1. In 1881, Sibelius began studies of which instrument under Gustav Levander?
a) Violin — b) Flute — c) Piano — d) Theremin
2. Sibelius spent the summer of 1887 in Korpo. Where is the island of Korpo?
a) In Lake Tuusula near Järvenpää — b) In the Baltic, near Vaasa — c) In the Turku archipelago — d) in the South China Sea
3. Who was the director of the film Sibelius (2003) starring Martti Suosalo?
a) Timo Koivusalo — b) Aki Kaurismäki — c) Renny Harlin — d) Alfred Hitchcock
4. The biography Jean Sibelius. Hans tondiktning och drag ur hans liv (Jean Sibelius. His music and aspects of his life) was published in 1916. Who was the author?
a) Erik Bergman — b) Erik Furuhjelm — c) Erik Tawaststjerna — d) Eric Morecambe
5. Sibelius travelled to America in 1914 on which ocean liner?
a) Mauretania — b) President Grant — c) Kaiser Wilhelm II — d) Titanic
Part 2: The Music
6. ‘Today things became so heated that I smashed the telephone. – My nerves are in tatters’ – Composing which work reduced Sibelius to such a state?
a) Pohjola’s Daughter — b) Scaramouche — c) Tapiola — d) Rondino, Op. 81 No. 2
7. The cantata Tulen synty (The Origin of Fire) was written for the inauguration of which major building in Helsinki?
a) Railway Station — b) National Theatre — c) Ateneum Art Museum — d) Hotel Kämp
8. Sibelius sold the song Arioso to a local publisher in 1911 when he was theoretically obliged to offer it first to Breikopf & Härtel. When challenged, what was his excuse for doing so?
a) It was an early work — b) It was an unfinished work — c) It was a short work — d) It was a dreadful work
9. Some of the material used in the finale of the Fourth Symphony was originally planned for a song based on which work of American literature?
a) Mark Twain: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — b) Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven — c) Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher — d) Dan Brown: The Da Vinci Code
10. Sibelius’s Seventh Symphony was premièred in which city?
a) Helsinki — b) Copenhagen — c) Stockholm — d) Tokyo
Part 3: Friends, Family and Contemporaries
11. Sibelius wrote a Wedding March for the play Die Sprache der Vögel (The Language of the Birds). Who wrote the play?
a) Maurice Maeterlinck — b) Hjalmar Procopé — c) Adolf Paul — d) Harold Pinter
12. In April 1916 Sibelius’s daughter Ruth had an accident. What happened?
a) She fell into the lake — b) She fell out of a tree — c) She fell off a horse — d) She fell out of an aeroplane
13. ‘The Sixth Symphony is wild and passionate in character. Dark, with pastoral contrasts… The Seventh Symphony – joy of life and vitality with appassionato sections. In three movements; that last of them is a “Hellenic rondo”. To whom did Sibelius write these words in 1918?
a) Robert Kajanus — b) Axel Carpelan — c) Wilhelm Stenhammar — d) Herbert von Karajan
14. Very unpopular Russian Governor-General of Finland, assassinated in 1904 by Eugen Schauman. Who was he?
a) Nikolai Bobrikov — b) Nikolai Sinebrychoff — c) Nikolai Romanov — d) Boris Yeltsin
15. Born in Leamington Spa in 1857, she was a great friend and admirer of Sibelius who translated many of the texts of his solo songs into English. Who was she?
a) Harriet Cohen — b) Rosa Newmarch — c) Alice Elgar — d) Margaret Thatcher
Part 4: Ainola
16. In 1911 Ainola was renovated and the exterior cladding was added. What colour was chosen?
a) White — b) Red — c) Yellow — d) Pink
17. What element of the food and drink at Ainola did Jean Sibelius insist on preparing himself?
a) Bread — b) Salad dressing — c) Meat pies — d) Home-brewed beer
18. The piano at Ainola was a gift to Sibelius for his 50th birthday. What is the make of piano?
a) Bösendorfer — b) Blüthner — c) Steinway — d) Stradivarius
19. Sibelius’s favourite spot for reflection in the woods at Ainola was known by what name?
a) The Cathedral — b) The Monument — c) The Temple — d) The Pyramid
20. What was the name of Sibelius’s pig?
a) Olivia — b) Helmi — c) Saimi — d) Peterson-Berger
The correct answers can be found by following this link.