Several major Sibelius manuscripts are being sold at auction by Sotheby’s, London, on 24 May 2016.
It is rare for major Sibelius manuscripts to be sold, and even rarer for a number of important manuscripts to be offered at the same time. All of the works in question are among the pieces that were published by Robert Lienau in the first decade of the twentieth century.
Foremost among these is the autograph manuscript of Pohjola’s Daughter; Sotheby’s remark that ‘no manuscript of this importance and calibre has appeared on the market for over ten years’. Also on sale are the primary sources for the final version of the Violin Concerto (although most of the autograph score is lost) and the complete piano transcription of the incidental music to Pelléas et Mélisande. Finally there is a set of eight autograph fragments, plus a score containing other revisions, pertaining to the male choir version of the patriotic cantata The Captive Queen.
The Pelléas manuscript is of particular interest because it contains two previously unknown piano transcriptions of movements that were omitted from the published piano version of the suite.
The estimated price range for these items ranges from £30,000–50,000 (The Captive Queen) to £200,000–300,000 (Pohjola’s Daughter).
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 After being criticized at its first performance on 8th February 1904, the concerto was withdrawn for revision.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
As a celebration of the 150th anniversaries of Sibelius’s and Nielsen’s birth, the duo Fenella Humphreys (violin) and Nicola Eimer (piano) will be performing at the Purcell Room, QEH, Southbank Centre in London on Wednesday 4th February at 7.45 pm.
In addition to playing works by Sibelius and Nielsen, the duo has commissioned a new short set of British pieces, inspired by and taking the movement titles of Sibelius’s Five Pieces, Op. 81. The composers for these pieces are Cheryl Frances-Hoad, David Knotts, Matthew Taylor, Alasdair Nicolson and Anthony Powers.
Sibelius: Five Pieces, Op. 81
Nielsen: Sonata No. 2, Op. 35
Sibelius: Sonatina, Op. 80
Five Pieces – by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Alasdair Nicolson, Matthew Taylor, David Knotts and Anthony Powers (world première)
Sibelius: Four Pieces, Op. 115
At Villa Gyllenberg in Helsinki – one of Finland’s foremost private museums – on 15th December 2014 the pianist Folke Gräsbeck was awarded the Sibelius Medal of the Sibelius Society of Finland, presented by Lauri Tarasti, president of the society since 2009. This medal has been awarded since 1965 and was designed by Eila Hiltunen, who also created the Sibelius monument. The medal is awarded both to individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievements as performers or supporters of Sibelius’s music, as well as to researchers. Previous recipients have included Urho Kekkonen (President of Finland), Aino Sibelius, Herbert von Karajan and many of Finland’s foremost conductors. In 2010 the medal was awarded to Sibelius One’s Andrew Barnett.
Folke Gräsbeck is the foremost exponent of Sibelius’s music for and including the piano. The American magazine Fanfare wrote of his recordings: ‘Gräsbeck makes a most persuasive case for just about all of this music, and Sibelius’s output for solo piano will likely never again be recorded as comprehensively or as well.’
The medal was presented at an event to mark the launch of the new critical edition of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in Breitkopf & Härtel’s JSW series. The new volume (SON 622) is edited by Timo Virtanen, editor-in-chief of JSW, includes not only the familiar 1905 version of the concerto but also the original 1903/04 version, with detailed comments both in the preface and the critical report. The launch event included a performance of the revised version of the concerto in Sibelius’s own arrangement for violin and piano, performed by Petteri Iivonen – second prize winner in the 2010 International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition and Folke Gräsbeck. After receiving the medal Folke Gräsbeck played a piano solo rarity, the Largo in A major, JS 117 (1888).