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date: 09 December 2019

Sibelius, Jean [Johan] (Christian Julius)free

  • Fabian Dahlström
  •  and James Hepokoski

(b Hämeenlinna, Dec 8, 1865; d Järvenpää, Sept 20, 1957). Finnish composer. He was the central figure in creating a Finnish voice in music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His most significant output was orchestral: seven symphonies, one violin concerto, several sets of incidental music and numerous tone poems, often based on incidents taken from the Kalevala, the Finnish-language folk epic. His work is distinguished by startlingly original adaptations of familiar elements: unorthodox treatments of triadic harmony, orchestral colour and musical process and structure. His music evokes a range of characteristic moods and topics, from celebratory nationalism and political struggle to cold despair and separatist isolation; from brooding contemplations of ‘neo-primitive’ musical ideas or slowly transforming sound textures to meditations on the mysteries, grandeurs and occasionally lurking terrors of archetypal folk myths or natural landscapes. A master of symphonic continuity and compressed, ‘logical’ musical structure, he grounded much of his music in his own conception of the Finnish national temperament. Throughout the 20th century Finland regarded him as a national hero and its most renowned artist. Outside Finland, Sibelius's reputation has been volatile, with passionate claims made both by advocates and detractors. The various reactions to his music have provided some of the most ideologically charged moments of 20th-century reception history.

1. 1865–89: early years, first student compositions.

  • James Hepokoski

Christening records from Hämeenlinna (Swedish, Tavastehus), a small garrison town roughly 100 km north of Helsinki, clarify the original order of his given names: Johan Christian Julius. In March 1886, as a first-year music student in Helsinki, 20-year-old ‘Janne’ adopted the first name Jean as ‘my music-name’ (his uncle Johan, a sea captain who had died a year before the composer's birth, had also used that name). He was the second of three children born to Christian Gustaf Sibelius, a military physician and the town doctor, and Maria Borg: the eldest was his sister Linda (1863–1932), the youngest his brother Christian (1869–1922), born after his father's death.

When Christian Gustaf died, from typhus, in 1868, the family was plunged into debt and received the support of close relatives. The children often spent their summers with their paternal grandmother and their aunt Evelina Sibelius in the southern coastal town of Loviisa (Lovisa). Young Janne, who had been attracted to the family's piano from about the age of five, received a few piano lessons when he was about seven from Evelina's sister, Julia, although at the time he was more interested in improvising than in disciplined study. Even more important was the unflagging encouragement of his uncle Pehr Sibelius in Turku (Åbo), a seed merchant who was also an amateur violinist and music lover. Much correspondence from the 1880s between the two still survives; most of it concerns Sibelius's developing love of music.

In the second half of the 19th century Finland was stirring with the economic and cultural changes with which the young Sibelius would soon be identified. Long controlled by Sweden (from the 12th century up to the early 19th), it had since 1809 been an autonomous grand duchy governed by Russia. Its population was divided by rival languages. On the one hand, its government, education, coastal commerce and fine arts were dominated by a longstanding élite culture of Swedish-speaking Finns, a minority within the country. On the other, the Finnish-speaking majority in the interior had traditionally wielded no social power, although a movement (‘Fennicization’) was under way to legitimize the language and to embrace it as the driving force of an authentic, assertive self-identity. The cultures articulated by these unrelated languages – the two sides of the Finnish character – were substantially different: the one Scandinavian, and hence potentially more urbane, sophisticated and international in outlook; the other Finno-Ugric (or Uralic), rooted in the rugged peasantry, uncompromisingly idiosyncratic, inscrutable to the outside world.

Sibelius grew up amid this growing language dispute, and his life and career reflect the aspirations of both sides and the tensions between them. He came from a Swedish-speaking family; even later in life his letters and diaries would be written largely in that language. His first extended exposure to Finnish came when he was ten: in 1876, after four years of Swedish-language education, he enrolled in the country's first Finnish-language secondary school, the Normaalilyseo, in Hämeenlinna. Although Sibelius learnt the rudiments of Finnish at this time, the language is absent from his ‘Hämeenlinna letters’ of the 1870s and 80s. There is little evidence that he had a high regard for it during those decades (although in a letter to Uncle Pehr dating from August 1885, shortly before his move to Helsinki, Sibelius mentioned that he ‘could give lessons in Finnish’ to earn money; a letter two months later suggests in passing, though somewhat unclearly, that he might have made himself available for such work). Whatever young Sibelius's initial abilities with Finnish might have been, his fuller, more sympathetic immersion in this language-world came only in the 1890s.

The traditional date of 1875 assigned to his earliest preserved composition, Vattendroppar (‘Water Drops’), a 24-bar trifle in E minor for violin and cello, both pizzicato throughout, seems suspiciously early. As is clear from the recently published ‘Hämeenlinna letters’, his formal study of music began in September 1881 (not 1880, as commonly cited), when at the age of 15 he started taking violin lessons with Gustaf Levander, the local military bandmaster. By the late 1880s the intense, nervous Sibelius would become a competent violinist, although one temperamentally suited more to chamber and ensemble performances than to solo appearances. Much of his chamber-music activity was in conjunction with a string quartet in Hämeenlinna (in which he played second violin), although music-making also took place at home, where he and his brother and sister constituted a piano trio: Janne on the violin, Christian on the cello and Linda on the piano.

During most of the 1880s he regarded himself primarily as a violinist, but his thoughts were also turning to composition. The gift of a ‘long desired but unbelievably expensive’ harmony book from Aunt Evelina in August 1882 led in the following year to the composition of the earliest surviving pieces after Vattendroppar: a three-movement Trio and a small Minuet in F for two violins and piano. He wrote to Uncle Pehr on 25 August 1883, ‘The compositions are, of course, very bad, but on rainy days it is fun to have something to work on’. Another letter to Pehr (24 February 1884) refers enthusiastically to his work with a newly acquired copy of J.C. Lobe's Lehrbuch der musikalischen Komposition, although later in life he reported that his conception of musical form in the early 1880s had crystallized around A.B. Marx's Die Lehre von der musikalischen Komposition. Thus towards the end of this ‘Hämeenlinna Period’ (1880–85) Sibelius began to write chamber works more or less imitative of the Viennese Classical or early Romantic style (Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert), albeit in a simplified manner. 1884 saw a few larger chamber works, and in summer 1885 he wrote his first piano pieces and his earliest string quartet, in E♭, sometimes charitably described as Haydnesque.

In autumn 1885 Sibelius left Hämeenlinna, supported by a loan from Pehr, to enrol both in Helsinki University as a student of law – a half-hearted aspiration lasting only a year – and in Martin Wegelius's newly-founded Helsinki Music Institute as a violinist. This phase of his music study would last four years (1885–9). Under the teachers Mitrofan Vasil′yev and (from 1887) Hermann Csillag his violin technique improved remarkably, but during this time ‘Jean’ Sibelius found himself drawn more deeply into composition. In spring 1887, following some terms of classroom harmony, he began to study composition privately with Wegelius, a former pupil of Reinecke in Leipzig who now favoured the harmonic and contrapuntal textbooks of Ludwig Bussler. A wellspring of energy and organization, Wegelius was an educational traditionalist who nonetheless admired Wagner and Liszt.

Sibelius soon became Wegelius's protégé. In the years 1887–9 the young violinist composed over a dozen conservatory-style chamber works and individual movements flavoured with Nordic mannerisms and sentimental earnestness. Some were written for the institute itself, others for private performances. Hints of the mature Sibelius are rare in these student works, which he never sanctioned for publication. They typically feature simple melody-plus-accompaniment textures, along with a striving for ‘serious’ sonorities and tonal colours; contrapuntal interplay (thematische Arbeit) rarely pervades all of the voices. They include: a Piano Trio in C ‘Loviisa’, a virtuoso Suite for violin and piano in E; a Grieg-influenced Violin Sonata in F, whose slow movement, a set of variations on a folk-like tune (intended to represent, he told Pehr, ‘an authentic Finnish girl’ singing with ‘sadness and melancholy’, unaffected by flirtatious efforts to cheer her up), was his first explicitly ‘nationalistic’ piece; a String Trio (Suite) in A; and a laboured fugue for Martin Wegelius for string quartet. The most promising of these early works was the String Quartet in A minor, performed at the institute in May 1889 and praised by the influential Helsinki Swedish-language music critic Karl Flodin, who welcomed Sibelius to the front lines of Finnish composition. These years also saw his first published work: in 1888 his song Serenad, with text by the celebrated Swedish-Finnish poet Johan Runeberg, was printed in an anthology, Det sjungande Finland 2. By 1889 his future path was clear: ‘Jean’ Sibelius had determined to become a composer.

During his final year at the Helsinki Music Institute (1888–9) Sibelius's circle widened to include figures that were to become increasingly important in his life. In Ferruccio Busoni, freshly hired as a professor of piano, he discovered a kindred, sympathetic artist (and vice versa). The two musicians, along with three Finnish contemporaries – pianist and writer Adolf Paul and the two Järnefelt brothers, the composer Armas and the painter Eero – joined together convivially as the ‘Leskovites’ (named after Busoni's dog Lesko) and exchanged ideas in Helsinki's cafés and restaurants. The connection with the Järnefelts proved especially significant: it was at this time that Sibelius fell in love with the Järnefelts' younger sister Aino, his future wife. Moreover, that distinguished family staunchly supported the pro-Finnish-language cause. The Järnefelts' lobbying on behalf of Finnish history and literature as virtually a moral imperative, along with their preference for speaking and writing in that language, must have begun to influence the Swedish-speaking Sibelius. His interest in the Finnish language and its recently collected folk poetry was doubtless rekindled at this point; it would deepen remarkably in the next few years.

2. 1889–91: the transformation (Berlin, Vienna).

  • James Hepokoski

Following Sibelius's graduation from the Helsinki Music Institute at the age of 23, he secured, through Wegelius's recommendation, a state stipend of 2000 Finnish marks for a year's study of composition in Germany. The eager young composer, bursting with local promise, was packed off to Berlin – his first visit to a leading European capital – from September 1889 to late June 1890 to study privately with Albert Becker. Sibelius's self-image was dashed at once. At his first lesson the pedantic Becker (‘an old fogey from head to foot’, growled Sibelius in a letter to Wegelius) put his finger on the weaknesses of the student's recent quartet and promptly placed him on a regimen of Bach counterpoint (chorales, motets and fugues) that would last most of the year. Experiencing the big city, however, had its own rewards: concerts, recitals, Wagner operas and fervent aesthetic debates. At the same time, Sibelius's wildly impractical personality succumbed to the enticements of Berlin. Throughout the year he spent with abandon, drank excessively and ran into financial and medical difficulties.

In Berlin, his own composition ground to a near halt. It was only in early 1890, after travelling to Leipzig with Adolf Paul and Busoni, who was performing Sinding's Piano Quintet, that Sibelius was roused to compose something new. This was his own five-movement Piano Quintet in G minor, written in Berlin in March and April 1890 and sent off directly to Wegelius in Finland. The first and third movements were performed immediately in Helsinki (with a sympathetic Busoni at the piano), but Wegelius criticized its underdeveloped piano writing, its impulsive indulgences here and there, and its occasionally awkward formal layout. Wegelius's remarks were not unfounded: notwithstanding its compelling seriousness, the Quintet displays a selfconscious obsession with the opening motto (which dimly foreshadows that of the First Symphony some nine years later) and a striving for grand effects in the absence of a convincing inner-voice polyphony. Still, Sibelius's insistence on sonority itself – pure sound – may also be heard as an emerging promise foreshadowing features of the later composer (for example, the poetically static open 5ths in the piano that precede the opening motto, the dramatic pauses throughout and the heterophonic enhancement of texture through inner-voice arpeggiation).

Dissatisfied with Berlin, Sibelius returned to Finland for the later summer and completed another string quartet, in B♭, along with a lengthy, somewhat discursive Adagio in D minor for the same instruments. He then moved to Vienna from October 1890 to early June 1891 – again supported by Finnish state funds – where he studied composition and orchestration with Karl Goldmark and, at the conservatory, Robert Fuchs.

Vienna proved to be the turning-point of his musical life because of the convergence of four factors. First, his letters reveal an intense Sibelius brooding on his own potential: he was becoming more self-critical, embracing hard work (although continuing to indulge his penchant for drink and profligacy) and seeking to fashion a unique style. Secondly, it was here that he turned away from academic-classical chamber composition – the hallmark of the Brahmsians and Viennese Liberals – and towards the orchestra. After some preliminary, discarded attempts for Goldmark, he produced in February and March 1891 an Overture in E and a waltz-like Scène de ballet (originally planned as two movements of ‘a kind of suite or rather symphony’), his earliest pieces for orchestra. Thirdly, Sibelius's aesthetic was wrenched in the direction of the progressive, in part as a result of coming into contact with certain key works. One was Bruckner's Third Symphony (the 1888–9 version, which he heard in December), with its monumental scale and throbbing ostinato sound-sheets. At the time Sibelius declared Bruckner ‘the greatest of all living composers’, thus taking sides in the divisive Brahms–Bruckner controversy and growing more dismissive of the academic classicism advocated at the conservatory. Towards the beginning of April he attended a performance of Siegfried; shortly thereafter he joined the Wagner Society.

Fourthly, and most significantly, in Vienna the Swedish-speaking Sibelius began to steep himself in Finnish-language culture, clearly taking steps to redefine himself more emphatically along those lines. Much of this must have been occasioned by his secret engagement to the pro-Finnish Aino Järnefelt the previous summer: her letters to him are consistently in Finnish, his to her in Swedish (‘so that it does not take five minutes to write out each word’, he explained in October). By 26 December he reported to Aino that he was enthralled with the Kalevala, the national folk epic, whose archaic, trochaic-tetrameter ‘runes’ (poems) of creation, nature, gods, and heroes (Väinämöinen, Lemminkäinen, Kullervo and others) embodied elemental Finnish culture. Above all, he was captivated by the unyielding sameness of the incantatory Kalevala poetry and reported to Aino that he was experiencing it as ‘extraordinarily modern’. Its repetitive recastings of similar rhythms, images and general moods impressed him as ‘pure music’, as ‘themes and variations’.

At the same time he pondered the cultural implications of folk music, especially the reiterative Kalevala recitation formulas, the most Finnish of musical patterns. These formulas constitute a family of brief, constricted melodies, each a pattern for the delivery of complementary pairs of poetic lines, spun out in an endless line-by-line alternation and sometimes performed back-and-forth between two male reciters. Each variant is typically bounded by a minor pentachord and unfolds in an implied 5/4 metre with two longer stresses on the final two beats (ex.1a–c shows three such repetitive formulae of hundreds that have been transcribed). On 8 January 1891 Sibelius wrote to Aino, ‘I certainly do believe in Finnish music, regardless of the smirks of the self-appointed authorities. That sonorous, remarkably melancholy monotony in all Finnish melodies, although it is a defect, properly speaking, is nevertheless characteristic’. The occasion for this declaration was his composition of the (Swedish-language!) song Drömmen (‘The Dream’), whose vocal line's first phrase, although in 3/4 metre, manifestly alludes to the 5/4 Kalevalaic pattern (ex.2a). Similarly, with his Overture in E he hit upon the practice of writing minor-mode, ‘runic’ second themes as characteristic nationalist moments within sonata forms. Such circular, often-reiterative theme-whirlpools – typically preoccupied with ‘fatalistically’ fixed intervallic patterns within the minor pentachord (with occasional decorative extensions above and below) – became characteristic features of the composer's ‘Finnish’ style in the 1890s and beyond (ex.3a–f).

Ex.1. Kalevala recitation formulae

Ex.2. Early Kalevalaic melodies in quintuple metres

Ex.3. Characteristic ‘runic’ melodies in the orchestral works

By spring 1891 – he was still in Vienna – Sibelius's plans swerved towards the monumental. Doubtless recalling the Finnish conductor and composer Robert Kajanus's brief (and stylistically unremarkable) Aino Symphony (which he had heard in Berlin), based on a story from the Kalevala, he began to plan the massive Kullervo, a five-movement ‘symphonic poem for soloists, chorus and orchestra’, precipitating his new, ‘modern’ Finnish style. ‘All my moods derive from the Kalevala’, he wrote to his own Aino on 20 April 1891, jotting down a major-mode version of what would become the minor-mode opening theme of Kullervo. Fuchs himself, he reported, had praised what he had seen of the newly imagined composition of his ‘Finnish barbarian’: ‘Everyone thinks I am so strange and original, unnatural and highly strung’. Sibelius's life's work begins in earnest from this moment.

3. 1891–8: forging a Finnish national music.

  • James Hepokoski

Once returned from Vienna, Sibelius threw himself into the grand Kullervo project, continuing to construct his new ‘Finnish-culture’ self-image in ways that were to inform the rest of his life. He ruled out the direct citation of folksong, for example, and sought instead to capture the essential feeling that animated such music. This self-definition demanded slow, cautious work, particularly because, as he wrote to Aino on 21–2 October 1891, ‘I would not wish to tell a lie in art … But I think I am now on the right path. I now grasp those Finnish, purely Finnish tendencies in music less realistically but more truthfully than before’. At the same time he was becoming engrossed in Finnish-language Karelianism, a political and artistic feature of the ‘National Romanticism’ that swept through Finland in the 1890s. The Karelianists paid special homage to the pre-industrial region of Karelia, much of which lay in Russian hands to the east of Finland's legal borders, although a portion, centred on Viipuri (Vyborg), then formed Finland's south-easternmost province. This region was venerated as preserving the most authentic traditions of Finnish music and poetry: larger Karelia had been the source-area of much of the Kalevala epic.

Sibelius sought out touchstone representatives of these folk-music practices during at least two periods at this time. The first occurred not in Karelia but in the coastal town of Porvoo (Borgå), between Helsinki and Loviisa. In later 1891 the Ingrian-Karelian singer Larin Paraske had been brought there as part of the preparation of a new edition of the Kalevala. By that point the 57-year-old woman had become widely famous as the leading memorizer and most authentic performer of these folk traditions. Sibelius heard Paraske perform laments (and probably also Kalevalaic rune-formulae) at the Porvoo home of the folksong collector Adolf Neovius in the final weeks of December 1891. ‘We have become good friends’, he boasted to Aino on 21 December, and he reported that he had penned the quasi-runic lullaby theme of ‘Kullervo's Youth’, the second movement of the future symphonic poem (ex.3c). Within a few days he mentioned the completion of the first movement.

Sibelius's second direct encounter with folk music occurred the following year, after the completion of Kullervo and immediately preceding the composition of the tone poem, En saga. During June and July 1892, following his marriage to Aino, he made a pilgrimage to Karelia itself – a personal extension to his honeymoon travels in south-eastern Finland – and noted down numerous melodies, especially from the remote Korpiselkä region.

About two months earlier, on 28 April 1892, the Helsinki première of Kullervo, conducted by Sibelius himself, had scored a telling success. This large-scale work established him overnight as the musical voice of a rising generation of pro-Finnish-culture activists. An unrelenting, mythic tale of hardship, incest and tragedy, Kullervo combines features of the standard programmatic symphony with cantata-like epic recitation and quasi-operatic soliloquies and brief dialogues. The non-texted movements, the first, second and fourth, provide a sonata-form structure, a slow movement and a scherzo. The texted movements, the third and fifth, with Finnish texts from the Kalevala, were recognized immediately as landmarks in the proper, idiomatic setting of Finnish. Sensing that Kullervo, despite its local triumph, was not yet the utterance he had hoped it would be, Sibelius never consented to its publication (it was printed only in 1966 – though with a copyright date of 1961 – nine years after his death).

Kullervo may have been compositionally untidy and occasionally sprawling, yet it proclaimed his new artistic identity in a startlingly original style. Most importantly, it seemed to bypass significant features of the academic-classical traditions altogether – traditions that Sibelius may never have fully mastered – in favour of a colouristic, grippingly earnest plunge into folk-saturated content and quasi-ritualized musical objects. With Kullervo, Sibelius began to turn a potential weakness into an immense strength. Pushing conservatory correctness to the sidelines, the work gave prominence to modally-tinged (‘Finnish’) melodies and reiterative accompaniment patterns; obsessive ostinato repetition, long pedal points and epic recyclings of brief melodic ideas; bluntly cut rhythms; broodingly thick, dark and often minor-mode textures, redolent of stern historical burdens and inescapable tragedy; unmediated juxtapositions of utterly contrasting timbre fields; and a favouring of texturally stratified, prolonged sound-images at the expense of traditional, linear-contrapuntal development.

Ex.3. Characteristic ‘runic’ melodies in the orchestral works

The natural-minor opening pages, among the boldest in all of Sibelius, convey the sense of a dam breaking, a releasing of mythic floodwaters, a rushing and roaring rhythmic stream bursting in from silence, turbulently churning up ancient memory. The hauntingly original, Dorian lullaby theme of the second movement (‘Kullervo's Youth’), harmonized with pungent dissonances, is among the most characteristic runic-styled ideas in early Sibelius (ex.3c). In the work's dramatic centrepiece, the texted third movement (‘Kullervo and his Sister’), Sibelius grappled with the problem of writing differing styles of music in ‘Karelian’ quintuple metres, a characteristic concern of these early years: the opening ritornello, ex.2b, is dance-like (perhaps a trepak); ex.2c is recitational. The same movement provides an early instance of embracing the non-standard formal practice of unfolding ideas in epic or ritualistic semi-parallel cycles. The first third of the movement, for example, is built around three varied rotations (cycles) of the pattern: orchestral ritornello – male-chorus recitation – brief dialogue. The pattern unravels only towards the end of the third cycle, probably to suggest, along with the text, a slide into disorder.

The next few years saw Sibelius developing further his local-nationalist musical image and busying himself with the conflicting demands of family, career and anti-bourgeois, immoderate personal impulse. Three of his six daughters were born in the 1890s, Eva (1893), Ruth (1894) and Kirsti (1898, died 1900). In autumn 1892 he began teaching theory (and violin) both at the Helsinki Music Institute and at Kajanus's Philharmonic Orchestra School: he continued to teach until the end of the decade. He also made periodic trips abroad. In summer 1894 he visited Bayreuth (and later Innsbruck and Venice): ‘overwhelming’ experiences with Parsifal, Tristan and Die Meistersinger plunged him into a short-lived Wagner crisis, which he managed to resolve within a month. By 19 August 1894 he declared himself closer to Liszt and the symphonic poem than to Wagnerian music drama; by 22 August he wrote, ‘I am no longer a Wagnerian’, and two weeks later he was studying Liszt's Faust Symphony. In spring 1896 he travelled to Berlin with Aino and visited Busoni. Summer 1897 brought a holiday in Venice. In November 1897 the Finnish Senate voted to support Sibelius as a national artist with a pension of 3000 marks for each of the next ten years; after that time it was renewed to extend over the rest of his life.

In the mid-1890s, Sibelius's loyalties shifted away from the pro-Swedish-Finnish Wegelius (who had disapproved of the Finnish nationalism of Kullervo) and towards a group of ‘modern’, more pro-Finnish intellectuals dedicated to agitated aesthetic debates, typically prolonged – sometimes for days – by alcohol. Sibelius's self-styled ‘Symposium’ circle included Wegelius's rival, Robert Kajanus, the gifted painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela (then undertaking his ‘Karelian-Symbolist’ Kalevala canvases, now Finland's most celebrated paintings), Adolf Paul and Armas Järnefelt. Gallen-Kallela immortalized this camaraderie in a notorious 1894 painting, ‘Symposium: the Problem’: it depicted the bottle-flanked ‘discussions’ of three of the group (Sibelius, Gallen-Kallela himself and Kajanus) in the bleary-eyed, dishevelled company of a fourth (perhaps Oskar Merikanto) who had already passed out on the table. The bon vivants frequented, among other establishments, the Kämp restaurant in Helsinki. These visits gave rise to dozens of still-repeated ‘Kämp stories’ featuring Sibelius's irresponsibility, characteristically counterpointed with Aino's long-suffering patience.

In autumn 1896 Sibelius, Kajanus and the musicologist Ilmari Krohn competed for a prestigious academic appointment at the University of Helsinki. In pursuit of the position (ultimately awarded to Kajanus), Sibelius delivered a lecture at the university on 25 November that was something of a nationalistic musical manifesto: ‘Some Perspectives on Folk Music and its Influence on the Art of Music’. The subject had long occupied him: apart from his intersections with folk music in 1891–2, he and the folklorist Lähteenkorva (Borenius) had edited a selection of Finnish folktunes for the Finnish Literary Society in 1895.

The 1896 lecture emphasized three points. First, folk and recitation melodies were instinctive products of nature. Modern composers should not harmonize them artificially or intellectually; only someone steeped in their folk spirit would be able to provide an intuitively correct harmonization or adaptation. Secondly, the most stable feature of Finnish folk music was the minor pentachord, representable as D–E–F–G–A. The pentachord had no mandatory final; melodies or phrases could end on any of its pitches, and they could be backlighted with different harmonizations carrying diverse tonal implications. Moreover, in some melodies the Finnish pentachord was extended upwards to include B and C (6̂ and 7̂) as tense upper auxiliary notes; the five-pitch complex also implied a complementary pentachord a 5th below, G–A–B(♭)–C–D, all of which encouraged a variety of modally inflected harmonizations. Thirdly, the repetitive Kalevalaic recitation formulas (rune melodies) were not static; rune singers varied these melancholy cycles through improvisation and personalization, especially as the text grew more intense. The nearest art-music analogue to these varied cycles (as Sibelius had noted in 1890) was ‘theme and variations’.

Throughout this decade Sibelius continued to develop the style first declared in Kullervo. At that time he surely regarded his formulation of this new language as an aggressively ‘modern’ project in the sense carried by that newly circulating term in younger German and Austrian artistic circles. The style was modern in several ways: its sheer strangeness was a mark of the brash generational difference separating Sibelius from his musical predecessors, whose norms it challenged; it strove unapologetically for vivid primitivist effects through an intensely personalized, non-academic treatment of harmony, melody, orchestral colour and musical continuity; and in its stern, anti-traditional manner it claimed to uncover a deeper human truth than that afforded by the complacent conservatory traditions.

Ex.2. Early Kalevalaic melodies in quintuple metres

His own command over this idiom expanded with a series of promising orchestral compositions, although in each case – as with Kullervo – he held back from immediate publication, preferring to set the works aside for possible later revision. These were: the tone poem En saga (1892, revised 1902); the set of tableau-vivant music for the Viipuri (Karelian) Student Association (1893, movements of which were published as the Karelia Overture and Suite, 1906); the tone poem Skogsrået (‘The Wood Nymph’, 1895, unpublished; recovered and recorded in 1996); and the Lemminkäis-Sarja (‘Lemminkäinen Suite’), four tone-poem ‘legends’ from the Kalevala, in effect a programme symphony (1895, subjected to multiple revisions in the ensuing years). The period also saw a handful of pioneering Finnish-language pieces for male chorus, such as Venematka (‘The Boat Journey’, 1893: ex.2d), the mini-triptych Rakastava (‘The Lover’, 1894; ex.2e), Saarella palaa (‘Fire on the Island’) and Sortunut ääni (‘The Broken Voice’, 1898; ex.2f). In addition, he was intermittently attracted to post-Wagnerian opera. Towards that end he worked in 1893 and 1894 on the Kalevala-based Veneen luominen (‘The Building of the Boat’. Although it was ultimately abandoned, material from its prelude was recast as Tuonelan joutsen, ‘The Swan of Tuonela’). Two years later in 1896 he completed an unsuccessful one-act opera, Jungfrun i tornet (‘The Maiden in the Tower’).

Sibelius's modern nationalism of the 1890s was a confluence of several musical streams. At first the impact of Liszt was keen – the liberation from (or radicalized dialogue with) formal conventions and the narrative-pictorial aspirations of the symphonic poem – but reverberations of Wagner and Bruckner were also present (vibrant colours, chromatic shifts, reiterative background ostinatos, muscular eruptions). By the end of the decade his growing self-criticism, reinforced by occasional stinging disapproval in the Helsinki press, led to an increased discipline and formal concentration: with time he came to aspire to the motivic severity (though not the counterpoint) of the Austro-Germanic tradition of Haydn and Beethoven. He also absorbed features of the Scandinavian and Russian nationalists: Grieg, Sinding, Svendsen and the St Petersburg school (including Borodin and Glazunov). In works from the late 1890s onwards, especially, one often senses a strong influence of Tchaikovsky in the general approach to orchestral sound and in certain local effects, though not in larger questions of structure. And nourishing the whole was his personal adaptation of Finnish language rhythms and folk idioms: obsessive, rune-like melodies, modal harmonies and a spirit of unflinching determination.

To grasp Sibelius's maturation throughout the 1890s (and to come to terms with the seasoned composer thereafter) is to recognize that a substantial part of his creativity was propelled by a deep-seated conflict of contradictory aesthetics and personal motivations that would gnaw as irreconcilables throughout his life and music. On the one hand, as the insecure, self-doubting outsider, he longed time and again to prove himself within the traditional circles and musical formats of the idealistic, neo-romantic establishment. One side of Sibelius ached for acceptance, yearned to thrive and be praised in the plushy afterglow world of the European institution of art music and its comforts, longed to furnish with appropriately Nordic, melancholy sentiments the culturally contented and luxuriate in the polished-mahogany satisfactions of ‘art’ as it existed. In these wishes, however, he was destined to fall short, never to achieve satisfaction. Whenever the aesthetic balance tipped too far in this direction, he would stumble, handling matters awkwardly or selfconsciously.

On the other hand, a compensatory, rebellious drive, even a streak of early-modernist defiance, incited him to transgress commonplace or outworn stereotypes, regardless of the consequences for his reputation. This neo-primitivist side of Sibelius sought to plunge recklessly towards an essential truth hidden in sonority (Klang) itself, to reawaken sound back to its crude or primal essence, to do violence – abrupt violence – to the conventions. Thus Sibelius the ‘Finnish barbarian’ undertook his mission to validate himself by defamiliarizing sonic norms, endeavouring to startle sound awake with surprising strokes. The tension between these two impulses – a residual longing for recognition within bourgeois conventions versus a defiant attraction to the break-up of the same conventions – tears at the heart of Sibelius from Kullervo onward. Wrestling with their complex interactions was central to his musical career.

During the 1890s then, Sibelius cultivated and blended not one style but two, generated by different aspects of his personality. At the risk of oversimplification, one might also suggest that these differences intersected in vital ways with the ever-present dialectic of language and world-view in Sibelius's (and Finland's) life: the ‘Finnish-language’ (or Kalevalaic) and ‘Swedish-Finnish’ tendencies. The two styles were not mutually exclusive: there was much overlap between them, but certain compositions tilted towards one or the other. While the rugged Finnish manner, concerned with burning issues of ethnic authenticity and cultural legitimacy, was the more politicized and disruptive, the Swedish-Finnish impulse sought a larger, more international audience on traditional terms. This latter tendency favoured the conventionally melodic; more frankly mercantile, it sought out the sentimental and confessionally sincere: although generally smoother it was still tinged with Finnish (or Scandinavian) melancholy. Sometimes this latter style came to the fore in lighter orchestral works, such as Vårsång (‘Spring Song’, 1894, revised 1895 and 1902) or some of the later incidental music. For Sibelius its most elevated home was the Swedish-Finnish (Swedish-language) ‘romantic’ Lied, which occupied him throughout his career, sometimes in experimental ways. The seven Runeberg songs op.13 was his first publication with his name on the title-page (1892). In 1895 the Finnish soprano Ida Ekman managed to perform for Brahms another early song on a Runeberg text, Se'n har jag ej frågat mera (‘Then I questioned no further’) (1891–2). According to her report almost 50 years later, Brahms's reaction was positive: ‘Aus dem wird was’ (‘Something will become of him’).

There can be no doubt, however, that Sibelius made his strongest utterances in orchestral works in which the radically Finnish style was pushed to the forefront. The high points before the First Symphony (1899) were Tuonelan joutsen (‘The Swan of Tuonela’) and Lemminkäinen palaa kotitienoille (literally, ‘Lemminkäinen Returns to his Home Districts’), two movements of the Lemminkäinen Suite that he published separately, after revision, in 1901 (the remaining two movements were revised again in 1939 and were not published until 1954). Broodingly immersed in the vaporous presence of its prevailing A minor tonal colour, the suite's slow movement, The Swan of Tuonela, depicts the gloom and near-immobility of the world of Death (tuoni) from the Kalevala. In this Northern-symbolist work Sibelius emerged as a master of orchestral atmosphere. The famous, extended solo for english horn (featuring the twisting rhythm of the ‘Sibelius triplet’) is supported by a bed of sustained, muted strings, each group of which, with the exception of the double basses, is normally subdivided into four parts: 17 string parts in all, some of which are occasionally divided further for searching solo phrases. The result is an uncommonly rich background texture, subjected to register shifts, dynamic swells and chromatic slippages. (Some of the colours recall passages in the Parsifal prelude and Act 3 of Tristan; Swan Lake and other works by Tchaikovsky might also be present as residual memories.) As one phrase merges into the next, the piece's impression of ‘inexplicable’ organic cohesiveness relies more on the varied resurfacing of interrelated themes, colours and motifs treated as independent sound objects than on any standard formal plan. The slow transformations build towards climactic textures near the end, where the divided strings merge to produce a sonorous, death-march cantabile melody in octaves.

Sibelius's experimentation is even bolder in the suite's finale, Lemminkäinen's Return, a watershed in his career and, at least in the 1901 revision, a harbinger of formal innovations more characteristic of his later works. This breathless moto perpetuo shrugs off references to traditional architectonic forms in favour of a coherent process of cumulative growth towards the production of a goal statement (or telos). In this case the goal to be achieved (the Kalevala hero's home to which he is returning) involves three elements in succession: attaining the ‘colour’ of the suite's tonic key, E♭ major (bar 315, letter ‘N’, a ‘border-crossing’); sounding an ecstatic telos-melody in that key (bar 342, one bar after letter ‘O’); and, at the end, producing an adrenalin-driven accelerando to secure E♭ major with an assertive IV–V7–I authentic cadence (bars 431–7, letter ‘R’). The piece begins off-tonic in a ‘modal’ C minor (in vi, ‘away from home’) with a 19-bar block bristling with scarcely contained fragments and wild cries. This energetic block is then subjected to continuous recyclings, but each rotation of the cycle accumulates additional motifs, expanding the size of each rotation block and gradually generating later telos-events. The whole piece is best described as a single-minded process unfolding in three stages: bars 1–139 (C minor, vi); bars 140–314 (letter ‘D’, wide-ranging tonal shifts, attaining the tonic minor – E♭ minor – in bar 243, letter ‘I’); bars 315–481 (E♭ major, production of goal statements). Two decades later, Sibelius recreated the excitement of the manically rhythmic, E♭ major conclusion of Lemminkäinen's Return at the end of the first movement of his Fifth Symphony.

4. 1898–1904: first international successes and local politics.

  • James Hepokoski

By 1898, several of Sibelius's major orchestral works had been performed in Finland. Apparently uncertain of his command over certain formal or textural aspects of his still-developing Kalevalaic style, he had withheld these pieces from publication in order to revise them further. Nevertheless his local reputation had been secured. As the century drew to an end, Sibelius sought to realize three related aims: to tighten his rough-cut, primitivist textures to a more impressive level of motivic concentration and formal purpose; to have new works and revised versions of the strongest of his earlier pieces published, thereby entering the larger marketplace of music; and to seek wider international recognition, especially by establishing a foothold in Germany, the most prestigious arbiter within the cultural institution of art music.

The success of the ‘lighter’ incidental music for Adolf Paul's Kung Kristian II (‘King Christian II’), first performed in February 1898 (Helsinki), played a pivotal role in all of this. In the first place, it was promptly published locally, by K.F. Wasenius. More importantly, this work established Sibelius's crucial connection with the Leipzig publisher, Breitkopf & Härtel, who agreed to acquire the rights to it during Sibelius's prolonged trip to Germany from late February to June 1898. A year later, in February 1899, his music received its first public hearing in Germany: a Leipzig performance of four of the seven movements from King Christian II. After reading the largely negative reviews, Sibelius complained to Busoni that he was embarrassed to have been introduced to Germany as a composer of ‘salon music’: ‘I have the greatest ambition [instead] to stand before you as a composer for whom you can have some regard’.

But grander things were afoot. In 1898 Breitkopf had apparently promised to support ‘something from [the] Lemminkäinen [Suite]’, yet to be revised. This would spur Sibelius to final work on The Swan of Tuonela and Lemminkäinen’s Return, published in 1901 by Wasenius, with a direct Breitkopf connection. The composer may have mentioned even broader plans to the German publisher, for in April 1898, in Berlin, he began sketches for a First Symphony. This was to receive its Helsinki première in April 1899, undergo revisions and a second ‘première’ in the following year, and be published in 1902 by Fazer & Westerlund – again with links to Breitkopf (who acquired the rights to this music in 1905). These pieces, along with King Christian II and Finlandia (1899), whose revised version (1900) was published in 1901, again by Fazer & Westerlund, formed the nucleus of the orchestral works that introduced Sibelius to larger Europe in the early 1900s.

This introduction began in earnest in July 1900 – only a few months after the death of his youngest daughter, Kirsti – when Sibelius, Kajanus and the Helsinki Philharmonic went on tour throughout northern Europe: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany (Lübeck, Hamburg and Berlin), the Netherlands and France (Paris, concluding with concerts at the Finnish pavilion at the World Exhibition). Apart from presenting Sibelius to these countries, the concerts' subtext was Finland's current political struggle against an ever more oppressive Russia, and political metaphors could effortlessly be read into such works as Finlandia and the First Symphony. All in all, the tour was successful; Sibelius was gratified by the attention he was beginning to receive in Germany. After Hamburg, he summarized his hopes in a letter to Aino (16 July 1900): ‘I can win a place, I believe, with my music. No, I don't believe; I know I can’.

In the next few years Sibelius, still indulging in bouts of immoderate drinking, smoking and spending, was consumed with the process of career building. Performances of his works outside Finland, with or without the composer conducting, became more frequent. He experienced an important success in Heidelberg in June 1901 with The Swan of Tuonela and Lemminkäinen's Return. The Berlin press praised the works, and Richard Strauss himself attended one of the rehearsals: Sibelius wrote home that the famous composer had been ‘complimentary’. At about the same time the Allgemeine Musik-Zeitung published one of Sibelius's songs from 1901 (with text by Runeberg), Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings möte (‘The girl returned from meeting her lover’): a piercingly effective representation of old-world sexual shame, with only slightly concealed metaphorical extensions to the world of modernity and lost innocence. The song was destined, deservedly, to become among the composer's most celebrated.

Sibelius composed his most frequently performed songs during this period (published as opp.36, 37 and 38). Some were introduced to a wider Europe by the soprano Ida Ekman; a few were recorded, by various artists, in Helsinki, Berlin and Stockholm in 1904 and 1906. The most characteristic songs are deeply melancholy and soberly chilling, an atmosphere that is enhanced by the resonances of the Swedish language. They include, from 1899, Svarta rosor (‘Black Roses’) and Men min fågel märks dock icke (‘But my bird is nowhere to be seen’); from 1900, Säv, säv, susa (‘Reed, reed, rustle’), Demanten på marssnön (‘The Diamond on the March Snow’) and Den första kyssen (‘The First Kiss’); and from 1902, Var det en dröm? (‘Was it a dream?’). There were also two masterpieces from 1903: the reflective, chromatically ambitious På verandan vid havet (‘On a balcony by the sea’) and the dramatic, declamatory scena, Höstkväll (‘Autumn Evening’).

Within Finland, the turn-of-the-century years were also Sibelius's most overtly political. In the late 1890s Russian policy in Finland turned towards harsh repression. Tsar Nicholas II appointed Nikolay Bobrikov Governor-General in 1898 to carry out a programme of ‘Russification’, and in 1899, with the much-despised February Manifesto, Bobrikov began the process of stripping Finland of its political autonomy, limiting free speech and assembly, shutting down newspapers, arranging deportations and the like. Such policies drew fierce resistance from the Finns, and Sibelius composed a number of frankly patriotic, protest pieces, in a simpler, more populist (even incendiary) style. Some had electrifying results in Finland but proved to be crafted for local consumption only. The most politically charged of these was the resistance-march for accompanied chorus, Atenarnes sång (‘Song of the Athenians’, 1899). Others included Islossningen i Uleå älv (‘The Breaking of the Ice on the Oulu River’, 1899), Isänmaalle (‘To the Fatherland’, 1900, which in 1901 became the first piece of Sibelius to be recorded) and Har du mod? (‘Do you have courage?’, 1904, first performed in the same year, only a few months before Bobrikov was assassinated in Senate Square in Helsinki).

One of his resistance pieces proved more exportable. Although by the time of the 1900 tour it had been revised and rechristened as Finlandia, this brief, call-to-action tone poem began life in 1899 as Suomi herää (‘Finland Awakens’), the finale of a set of incidental music accompanying staged, historical tableaux depicting Finland's history. It was destined to become Sibelius's best-known work, an inextinguishable symbol for Finland itself. In terms of its political content, the tone poem's sequence of events could hardly be easier to grasp: political subjugation, sudden awakening and conflict, and a nationally centred hymnic liberation into the future. Yet its musical form is non-traditional, not sharing the sonata form with expanded ‘introduction-coda frame’ of some of its obvious predecessors, Beethoven's Egmont and Tchaikovsky's 1812 overtures. Similarly notable is Sibelius's use of allusion in the famous ‘Finlandia Hymn’ section, whose incipit apparently paraphrases and reconfigures rhythmically an inner section of a similarly titled, patriotic choral work from the early 1880s by the Finnish composer Emil Genetz, Herää, Suomi! (‘Awaken, Finland!’), as would probably have been evident to its first listeners (ex.4a–b; note the curiously similar opening of Schumann's Piano Quartet).

Ex.3. Characteristic ‘runic’ melodies in the orchestral works

Sibelius doubtless regarded his First Symphony, in E minor (1899, revised 1900), as a watershed work. About to enter larger European markets, he now tackled head-on the central problem facing his compositional career: the harnessing of a stubbornly separatist, regionally resonant musical idiom according to the assimilationist demands of pan-European musical expectation – the forging of a potentially uneasy rapprochement of the refractory neo-primitivist style with the well-worn conventions of the post-Brahmsian, post-Tchaikovskian symphony. From one perspective, the First Symphony represented a calculated move towards a more international abstraction: the work was nominally non-programmatic and treated the issues of traditional form and the unfolding of motivic ‘logic’ with high seriousness and remarkable concentration. Yet its impact also resulted from its explosive combination of ethnically charged, latently political factors that were even more direct and would soon be identified throughout Europe as characteristically Sibelian. One might point, for example, to its sweeping, ‘nationalistic’ melodies of enormous determination and cumulative force (sometimes held fast with lengthy, support-beam pedal points, as in the second theme of the finale). Or to its stubbornly personal harmonic practice, featuring recyclings of a restricted set of chordal objects – an attraction to harmonic stasis, frequent substitutions of traditional 5th-orientated progressions with chromatic chord transformations (dominated especially by the harmonic mannerism, borrowed from Russian composers, of the smooth shifting of a 5–3 to a 6–3 sonority or vice-versa by means of a passing ♯5̂ or ♭6̂) and occasional modal effects. Or to its manifest rhetoric of Finnish commitment: its impassioned articulation, especially in the outer movements, of heroic, though in this case futile, national struggle against overwhelmingly negative forces. Sibelius's First Symphony may be regarded as his ‘Karelianist’ symphony, the masterly summary-statement towards which his work of the 1890s had been tending (see also ex.3e above).

Sibelius followed up the First Symphony with a perhaps even more motivically concentrated, more aggressively modern Second, in D (1901–2). Where the First had ended in smouldering, minor-mode ‘injustice’, the more radiant Second sang of eventual victory. It opens with pristine Nordic pastoralisms juxtaposed with expressions of swelling self-pride, forceful determination and premonitions of conflict; tracks subsequently through dark struggles and chiaroscuro upheavals (especially in the harrowing, prison-house effect of the tonic-minor second movement); and concludes with a sure-fire, folk-triumphalist finale. Its first-movement exposition is arrestingly original – a succession of abruptly discontinuous fragments and raw elements in which chunks of unprocessed sound intercut and interrupt each other, as though one were confronting single-minded facets of the cultural world that will be icily chilled, put at risk, in the second movement. Similarly striking is the finale's hypnotically reiterative, Kalevalaic second theme, the insistent, ritualized process of returning to the folk-self, through whose presumed claim to cultural legitimacy the minor mode is to be liberated into the major.

Sibelius's denials that the Second was underpinned by a specific programme of Finnish protest (as claimed by Kajanus in a convincing printed commentary of 1902) have never seemed fully credible. Such disavowals of the obvious probably indicated his desire to multiply the work's significance beyond its self-evident local implications into a more pan-European, humanist utterance. And in fact there is historical evidence to help persuade us to consider this broader interpretation as well: some of its ideas originated either as independent musical thoughts or as sketches planned for quite different compositions. In June 1899 Sibelius hit upon the separate idea that, reworked, became the finale's capstone coda-theme: it emerged as a sudden ‘impression’, improvised at 2 a.m., of the ‘basic mood’ of an exotically furnished room in Gallen-Kallela's villa in Ruovesi. Much of the material included in the symphony was sketched during a compositional trip to Italy – Rapallo and Florence (funded by a wealthy Swedish supporter, Axel Tamm) – in February–April 1901. This is particularly true of the second movement, whose spectral, D minor pizzicato opening (explicitly recalling the slow movement of Bruckner's Fifth Symphony?) and lugubre bassoon melody he devised for a fleetingly projected tone poem on the legend of Don Juan (a response to Strauss?): the ominous twilight steps of the ‘stone guest’ and his song of death. The second movement's major-mode consolation theme, first heard in F♯ major, appears in the same sketch with the label ‘Christus’. Its proximity with the first idea suggests a similar Don Juan connection, but Sibelius may also have had another image in mind: certainly by early summer 1901 – back in Finland – Sibelius had jettisoned the Don Juan idea in favour of a tone poem based on Dante (a response to Liszt?). By August the tone poems were being transformed into the new symphony, essentially crafted in Finland in the last half of 1901. Even though the Second Symphony is unmistakably Finnish in tone and carries an undeniable political charge, it marks a decided move beyond the purer Karelianism of the First.

Nor was Sibelius alone in this emerging aesthetic shift. While Kalevalaic nationalism and myth-centred symbolism had stabilized the fledgling Finnish arts in the late 19th century, in the 20th several Finnish intellectuals were seeking to break through the confines of the merely local into more cosmopolitan, internationally modernist concerns. One prominent circle was Helsinki's Swedish-speaking ‘Euterpists’ (including the writer Bertel Gripenberg and the literary historian Gunnar Castrén), whose members and broader, post-Kalevala aims began to attract Sibelius in late 1902. The same year had seen Sibelius's brilliant recasting of his earlier tone poem from 1892, En saga. Its Berlin performance in November 1902 generated stormy controversy – to the composer's delight – and it was published by Breitkopf in 1903, along with the Second Symphony.

By this point his broader European career seemed all promise. In 1903 he composed incidental music for Arvid Järnefelt's psychological play, Kuolema (‘Death’). Its most haunting movement, ‘Valse triste’, was a valedictory, dreamscape evocation of the faded salon style. Irresistible in late-Romantic appeal, though leagues away from the complexities of the symphonies and tone poems, it was published separately in 1904. With Finlandia, it was soon widely regarded as one of Sibelius's signature pieces.

Far more substantial was the Violin Concerto in D minor, whose first version occupied him in 1903 and early 1904: it was first performed in Helsinki in February 1904. Here he took up what would seem an impossible challenge – the fusing of his stern, compromise-resistant neo-primitivism (Sibelius as ‘deep and sober thinker’) with the tradition of the flashy, exhibitionistic virtuoso concerto, a tradition filled with displays of dazzling technique that sometimes bordered on emptiness. Did the concerto not exist, it would be difficult to imagine such a merger, and at times the strain of the attempt shows through in some of the virtuoso figuration – an occasional tilt toward ostentation that would be out of place in the world of Sibelius's symphonies and tone poems. From a different perspective, though, one could also regard the work as a deepening of the tradition – a virtuoso concerto simultaneously affirmed and transcended by a thoroughgoing seriousness of purpose and ‘surplus’ density of compositional pondering. Above all, its brooding Nordic atmosphere and motivic sound-world are unmistakably Sibelian. One of its unusual features was an expanded first-movement cadenza that serves as the development section (building, surely, on the Mendelssohnian precedent of placing the cadenza at the end of the development); another was its spine-stiffening enhancement of the display-concerto aesthetic through suddenly eruptive, powerfully resolute orchestral upheavals. Dissatisfied with portions of the 1904 version, which had disappointed the much-respected Helsinki critic Karl Flodin, Sibelius withheld the work from publication (this version was recovered in 1990). Its more dramatically taut revision – now ranked among the world's leading concertos – received its première in Berlin in October 1905, with Karel Halíř as soloist and Richard Strauss conducting.

In these years Sibelius's family and several of his associates became gravely concerned about the effects of his continued heavy drinking. In 1903 his wife, Aino, and his close friend, Axel Carpelan – a fervent supporter who had sought out the composer three years earlier – devised a plan to save him from self-destruction: the family, now expanded with the birth of Katarina in 1903, was to move permanently out of Helsinki, away from city life and its temptations. A rustic, beautifully conceived villa, dubbed ‘Ainola’ (‘Aino's dwelling-place’), was designed and constructed for them in the midst of the rugged Finnish forest at Järvenpää, close to Lake Tuusula – near enough to Helsinki to provide professional access, but far enough to discourage casual visits (fig.1). Here the sense of isolation – of communion with the vast pine forests throughout the cycle of seasons – was palpable. Sibelius and his family moved into Ainola in September 1904. It was his home for the rest of his life.

Sibelius at his villa, Ainola, in Järvenpää

Sibelius Museum, Finland
Sibelius Museum, Finland

5. 1905–11: modern classicism.

  • James Hepokoski

By 1905, Sibelius's impact in Germany had been brought to a promising yet precarious position. On the one hand, such successes as his conducting of the Second Symphony in Berlin in January of that year confirmed his growing reputation as a controversial Northern modernist. On the other hand, the ‘exotic’ factors that had gained him attention in the first place (along with the ominous popularity of a few lighter pieces) were encouraging European musical circles to overlook the depth of his musical thought in favour of a reductive stereotype. By considering him only under the peripheral category of ‘nationalist’ – outsider status – and by noting that his unusual musical language failed to satisfy the academic-classical expectations of standard symphonic or linear-contrapuntal practice, even modestly sympathetic commentators, such as Walter Niemann, were setting up limits of acceptance that would be difficult to exceed.

‘This is the crucial hour, the last chance to make something of myself and achieve great things’, he wrote to Aino on 19 January 1905; ‘Now the important thing is not to let up but to sustain the momentum’. The next month he broke with the Finnish publishers to sign a four-year contract with the Berlin publisher Robert Lienau (Schlesinger), pledging – too optimistically, as it turned out – the delivery of four new works per year (the first two, from 1905, were the incidental music to Pelléas och Mélisande and the revised Violin Concerto). Expanding outward, in November 1905 Sibelius made his first trip to England, where he made a remarkable impression in Liverpool conducting the First Symphony and Finlandia. In England he was greeted by a circle of enthusiastic admirers: Granville Bantock, Henry Wood, Ernest Newman and Rosa Newmarch. This trip was pivotal for his historical reception: ultimately his ties with English – and later, American – audiences would become stronger; within a few years, those with Germanic listeners would deteriorate.

By 1905, sparked by the Lienau contract and sensing himself ‘in the grip of change’ (as he had remarked the previous summer), Sibelius felt that his European reputation was now on the line. His first response was to return to the formal freedom of the tone poem. In January 1905 in Berlin he had heard Strauss – still the foremost of the musical modernists – conduct Ein Heldenleben and Symphonia Domestica. ‘I was very fascinated’, he wrote to Aino on 8 January; ‘I learnt a lot’. On 23–4 January he added, ‘I'm no longer writing a symphony, rather a symphonic fantasy for orchestra. This is my genre!! Here I can move without feeling the weight of tradition’. Throughout late 1905 and early 1906 the projected symphonic fantasy was Luonnotar, to be based on the creation story from the Kalevala. Around June 1906, however, the Luonnotar draft seems to have been refashioned into a different tale from another portion of the Kalevala, Pohjolan tytär (‘Pohjola's Daughter’), recounting ‘steadfast, old’, white-bearded Väinämöinen's sleigh-ride and futile wooing of the beautiful ‘daughter of the North’. The most narratively detailed of Sibelius's tone poems, Pohjola's Daughter unfolds as a sonata deformation (a non-traditional structure in dialogue with sonata norms) centred on B♭ major as a referential tonal colour rather than as a key in the usual sense. It is preceded by a brooding, G minor-grounded ‘Kalevalaic’ introduction, evoking the ancient traditions from which the story springs, and the work's tonally shattered, morendo ending represents the wreckage of Väinämöinen's hopes: a lonely aftermath of ‘lost’, chromatic fragments – a characteristic mood in mature Sibelius – coming eventually to rest on the referential B♭.

If Pohjola's Daughter was crafted as an enthusiastic response to the later tone poems of Strauss, that response also contained an element of critique. Increasingly suspicious of what he perceived as the episodic looseness and self-indulgent monumentalism of the most hypertechnically advanced modernists, especially Strauss and Mahler, Sibelius was now seeking a redoubled compression and motivic density: the performance time of Heldenleben is about 40 minutes; that of Pohjola about 12. In 1905–6 the composer was on the cusp of a crucial development. Was it possible to remain regarded as unequivocally modern – in uniqueness of language and uncompromising attitude, in radical orchestral colour, in boldness and depth of idea – but simultaneously to react against the more sensationalist currents of modernism by recovering the economy and formal logic of the abandoned classical ideal? Though a risky strategy within an unpredictable musical marketplace (these were the Salome and Elektra years), this ‘modern classicism’ now became Sibelius's aim. A stylistic ideal at once referentially traditional yet almost compulsively dismissive of overtly popular appeal, it may be regarded as Sibelius's middle-period proposal to accommodate the assimilationist–separatist dialectic that kept pulling him in opposite creative directions.

The leaner, less Kalevalaic Third Symphony in C (1907) was the manifesto of this merging into modern classicism. Less spectacular than his first two symphonies, the anti-monumental Third compensates through a further gain in compositional discipline. In part the work was a counter-response to Mahler's expansive Fifth Symphony, which he had studied in 1905. In October 1907, shortly after Sibelius's completion of the Third, Mahler visited Helsinki, although he knew nothing of Sibelius's major works and thought little of the composer. At that time Sibelius remarked to Mahler that he considered the essence of the genre of the symphony to be its ‘severity and style and the profound logic that created an inner connection between all the motifs’. Mahler's reply is equally famous: ‘No! The symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything’.

With the Third Symphony, Sibelius grasped more clearly the artistic project that would dominate his later compositions: to give the impression that his reiterative, uncommonly concentrated language sought to draw out the hidden secrets of sound itself, to free an ontological truth from sound's acoustic materiality. To this end the Third Symphony strives to recover both the diatonic melodic fragment and the pure triad as meaningful modern utterances by presenting them in non-normative ways. Such an unusual aim – the defamiliarization of the diatonic and the consonant within a surrounding European context of multiplying dissonance, ironic detachment and high modernism – was easy for audiences and critics to misconstrue. This dogged, non-ironized retention of the triadic would lead to much misunderstanding and bitterly partisan debate for the rest of the century.

The perceptual effect created throughout the Third Symphony is that of an elemental, C-major-triad sonority gaining cumulative heft and weight, maximizing in presence and insistent self-assuredness, pulling itself free from distracting obstacles, until at the end one is confronted with something extraordinary: the reality of a heavier, more revelatory ‘C major’. The remarkable finale is laid out in two distinct parts, welding together aspects of traditional third and fourth movements: a motivically scattered, scherzo-like block, unfolding in repetitive cycles, eventually produces a circular, melodic juggernaut that steamrollers its way to the end, accruing ‘surplus’ C-triad intensity with every reiteration (ex.5). From one perspective, the finale can be understood as a radicalized sonata deformation, in which the double-theme scherzo cycles furnish two varied expositions and a development and the juggernaut conclusion serves as a reconceived recapitulation. From another, the scherzo cycles can also appear as a paradigm of what may be called ‘rotational form’ – broad, varied recyclings of a thematic pattern – within which a separate idea (in this case, the juggernaut theme) is engendered, nurtured and finally brought to flower as a revelatory telos or goal. Sibelius himself described the finale's process as ‘the crystallization of ideas from chaos’. Foreshadowed most notably in Lemminkäinen's Return, this combination of quasi-ritualistic rotations and ‘teleological genesis’ would take on increased importance in the following years. It eventually became the grounding formal principle of his works after 1912.

Ex.5 Symphony no.3, 3rd movt, concluding theme

The years 1907–12 brought alternating periods of buoyant confidence and corrosive despair, much of which he registered in a diary beginning in February 1909. Both Sibelius's finances and health had reached a crisis point, even as his family continued to expand with the births of his last two daughters, Margareta in 1908 and Heidi in 1911. By 1908 he was awash in debts, he was experiencing the negative effects of prolonged alcoholism – in his own mind intoxication had been a necessary spur to his artistry – and he had developed a menacing throat tumour. Fearing cancer, he consulted specialists in Helsinki and Berlin and suffered through several operations. On doctor's orders he was forced to swear off drinking and smoking. Although such abstinence had been previously unthinkable, this resolution lasted until 1915. For several years after 1908, Sibelius was haunted by the shadow of death, and much in his music and thought at this time turned towards the darker and the more introspective.

Nor were affairs entirely encouraging on the professional level. His monetary problems, compounded by growing self-criticism whenever he undertook large-scale projects, strained his relations with Lienau and made it difficult to fulfil the conditions in his 1905–9 contract. After the Third Symphony, he produced only two other major works for Lienau, neither of which invited public success. One was the proto-minimalist (and non-Kalevalaic) tone poem, Öinen ratsastus ja auringonnousu (‘Night Ride and Sunrise’, 1908). Breaking more decisively away from the sonata principle through multiple, cumulative rotations, it foreshadows much of the sound-world of Sibelius's later works. The second was his return to chamber composition with the sombre String Quartet in D minor, subtitled ‘Voces intimae’ (1909). As Sibelius himself recognized, this quartet was a milestone in his compositional development. Yet it did not come without a steep price. Anticipating certain features of the Fourth Symphony, the brooding language of the five-movement quartet seems to turn its back on audiences altogether in its entrenched isolation, depression and invasive despair. It reveals its chilling, deeper currents only to initiates into Sibelius's manner of thinking.

Most of what he offered to Lienau, however, proved to be compendia of short pieces of varying quality: fleeting sound-ideas, experimental miniatures or songs. These included the six German-language songs of op.50 (1906), the curiously exotic incidental music to Belsazars gästabud (‘Belshazzar's Feast’, 1906–7), the more significant incidental music to Strindberg's fairy-tale play Svanevit (‘Swanwhite’, 1908), certain features of which would be recalled in the Fifth Symphony, and the eight songs op.57 on Swedish texts by Ernst Josephson (1909–10). In 1910, after Lienau turned down Sibelius's terms for the Ten Pieces for Piano op.58, the composer was lured to Breitkopf, whom he also offered two songs from 1908, published in 1910 as op.35 (and much praised by later commentators): the broadly static Jubal and the proto-expressionistic, hauntingly decadent Teodora – a rare encounter in Sibelius's music with aestheticist eroticism. Towards the end of 1909, meanwhile, he had been momentarily rescued from his appalling financial situation through discreet contributions from a few wealthy Finnish patrons. This relief effort was organized by his friend Axel Carpelan, who characteristically pressed Sibelius to steer clear of potentially lucrative miniatures in favour of major orchestral statements.

His several trips abroad in 1909–12 kept him abreast of new developments in music and permitted him to reflect on his own position – or lack of it – in the larger European markets. The most encouraging successes occurred in England, where a few influential voices – Bantock, Newman, Wood, Newmarch – continued to champion his cause. Sibelius was fêted in England in February–March 1909 (when he also briefly met Debussy) and September–October 1912. But his experiences in Berlin and Paris during these years were at best mixed, at worst deeply discouraging. There, for the most part, he had been consigned to the position of a second-tier ‘nationalist’, no longer regarded as a key player in the world of the new music personified by such figures as Debussy, Stravinsky, Varèse (whom Sibelius met, through Busoni, in 1910) or Schoenberg (whose musical principles challenged him to the point of crisis in 1912). Apart from his English connection, Sibelius's career now seemed on the wane. His newer works proved especially difficult to market in the rest of Europe. These included the funeral march In memoriam (1909, revised 1910) and a revision of his choral and orchestral setting from the Kalevala, Tulen synty (‘The Origin of Fire’, 1902). His modern-classical gambit and increasingly dark, enigmatic musical utterances were not leading to the success for which he had hoped.

The unresolvable obstacle was his puzzlingly unusual style. As his biographer Erik Tawaststjerna pointed out, ‘Sibelius's musical ideas were alien to the Central European mentality’. Traceable in letters and diary entries, the composer's response was to refashion his self-image into that of a man of profound isolation, groping his way along a little understood compositional ‘path’ that he ‘must take’, one that would ensure his irremediable alienation from the currents that governed the prestige institutions of his time. This self-assessment crossed a crucial line with the widespread reconstruction of the concept of musical modernism that attended the European compositional revolutions in the years around 1910 – Stravinsky, Schoenberg and others. It was now clear that Sibelius's early modernism, along with that of others of his generation, was being outflanked (and placed under suspicion as traditionalism or ‘late Romanticism’) by a younger group of high modernists whose new-music posture and practices he came to view as sensationalist, a betrayal of the tradition.

Sibelius's Fourth Symphony in A minor (1910–11) was the climactic utterance of his modern-classical style – broken, despairingly contemplative, irretrievably lonely in tone, the product of much compositional struggle and, above all, a resolute statement of the separatist side of his conflicted artistic persona. It is a piece of enormous depth and implication, very much a work of its time, harbouring at its core a brilliantly staged contradiction. On the one hand, the standard 20th-century verdict, especially among historians, has been that this is Sibelius's most modern, most harmonically and technically advanced composition. Many factors point in this direction: the Fourth's emphasis on the tritone as a generative interval; its arrestingly acerbic dissonances; the strangeness of its moment-to-moment syntax, including stubborn rhetorical discontinuities and truncations; its unparalleled motivic compression and density of thought; its structurally deformational movement layouts; its uncompromising bleakness and disdain of popular appeal. On the other hand, its selfconsciously anti-sensational tone was intended as a rebuke to the new, post-1910 reconception of modernism. This was the initial view of the symphony put forth by Sibelius's confidant Axel Carpelan in April 1911, shortly after the Helsinki première. It was reinforced the following month by Sibelius himself in a much-quoted letter to Rosa Newmarch: ‘[My symphony] stands as a protest against present-day music. It has nothing, absolutely nothing of the circus about it’. The modernist/anti-modernist contradiction driving the Fourth Symphony is irreconcilable. In that irreconcilability it exposes, albeit from the sidelines, the conflicts tearing through the fabric of the European musical politics of the period.

6. 1912–26: late works.

  • James Hepokoski

In terms of its initial reception in larger Europe, the Fourth Symphony was a failure. Sibelius's estrangement from the new reception categories of Austro-Germanic and French modernism would drive the remainder of his career. Although his decision in early 1912 to turn down the offer of a position in composition at the Imperial Academy of Music in Vienna was prompted in part by local concerns, it was also a signal that he no longer sought the front lines of compositional battle on the terms offered by Central Europe. Fuelled by struggles with depression coupled with a visceral disdain for the polemically driven politics of musical fashion, his thoughts were turning instead towards withdrawal, private resistance to the new trends and continued explorations of the separatist path that he had set out for himself.

These attitudes were reinforced in early 1914, when Sibelius took a month-long trip to Berlin after a year of isolation in Finland. Once again he threw himself back into the Germanic swirl, and there he sought out alternatives to his own style: the music of Debussy, Mahler, Strauss and above all Schoenberg, including the first Kammersymphonie, the Second Quartet and a few songs. In his diary entries of 4 and 9 February he recorded his ambivalence to the new Expressionism: Schoenberg's music was ‘a legitimate and valid way of looking at things … but it is certainly painful to listen to … It gave me a lot to think about. He interests me very much’. Still, it was evident that his own music would maintain only a modest place on the continent and that the language, style and characteristic problems of the symphonic tradition were on the way to being judged obsolete.

In a curious twist of fate, the very qualities that were marginalizing him in Central Europe were proving attractive to certain traditionalist English and American circles, which were beginning to appropriate him as a Northern, ‘healthy’ antidote to a diseased musical modernism. Generally underexamined on all sides, Sibelius's music was on its way to becoming a much stormed, much defended redoubt in the modernist/anti-modernist culture wars. Anticipations of this had been sounded in England for several years. The next stage unfolded among Sibelius's American champions. In 1913 Horatio Parker invited him to undertake a concert tour the following year in the eastern USA. The principal sponsors, Carl Stoeckel and Ellen Battell-Stoeckel, commissioned a new work, to receive its première at the Music Festival in Norfolk, Connecticut, in June 1914 as the centrepiece of the visit: this turned out to be the tone poem, Aallottaret (‘The Oceanides’).

Sibelius's visit to America in late May and early June 1914 – on the eve of European war – was one of the grandest experiences of his life. He was welcomed as a celebrity, regaled with travel and luxurious accommodation, and praised rapturously; he visited New York, Boston and Niagara Falls (which moved him profoundly), met musical luminaries (Horatio Parker, Walter Damrosch, George Chadwick and others), carried off the première of The Oceanides and received an honorary doctorate at Yale University. Among the most important of Sibelius's new acquaintances was Olin Downes, then the critic for the Boston Post. Downes had already taken up Sibelius as a personal cause to counter the ‘overcultivated’ features of modern times – in retrospect, with a coarse vehemence, edgily reflecting his own psychological needs (‘music of intense masculinity, from which the erotic element … is entirely absent … a hero of the North … the last of the heroes in music … [who can] throw manners to the winds and bring back the gods’). He would pursue this overblown campaign in the 1920s and 30s as the leading critic for the New York Times. Although such Downesian projections (and their British analogues) would become leitmotifs among English-speaking traditionalists, their long-term effect would be negative, propping up Sibelius as a perennial ‘conservative’ target for partisan advocates of the dissonant ‘new music’.

Sibelius's actual compositional concerns during the years after the Fourth Symphony elude simplistic classification as either conservative or progressive: this late-period music resists such shopworn binary oppositions. At its centre was an increasing flight from cosmopolitan fashion into near-solitary contemplation – the turn onto ‘a lonely ski-trail that leads away to the depths of the forest’ (to cite the opening lines of a brief, metaphorically confessional work of 1925, Ett ensamt skidspår for narrator and piano, with text by Gripenberg). The deepest and most significant of his career, Sibelius's late works are inseparable from his day-to-day existence at his forest retreat, Ainola, outside Järvenpää: its towering, resinous pines, its crystalline lakes, its boreal plants and wildlife, including its majestic migrating birds (which so impressed the composer), its dramatic and pitiless change of seasons, its utter separation from anything urban. ‘Here at Ainola’, he would remark, ‘this stillness speaks’.

Since 1912 Sibelius had begun to envisage an enormous final project: bringing the 19th-century ideal of organic form to a culmination while exploring the relationship of the resulting form to an enhanced presence of musical sound. The composer had come to regard certain types of sound-image with reverence, as spiritually mappable onto the manifestations of Being concealed behind the visible surface of nature. At least within the sphere of musical practice, the composer appears to have held the quasi-animist conviction that long-dormant spiritual realities – roughly analogous to ancient, pagan gods – inhabit nature, waiting to be reawakened through meditative reflection. Supplementing what we may regard as Sibelius's aesthetic pantheism was his growing belief in the potential reuniting of music with nature. He now sought to bring the palpable, grainy textures of musical sound and the processes of musical elaboration into alignment with the magisterial spontaneity of nature's cries, rustles, splashes, storms, cyclical course and the like. Thus the act of composition became a neo-pantheist spiritual exercise. The resultant work of art was intended to invite a complementarily mystical, reverential or poetic listening – not to be captured by rational analysis or chalkboard explanation. Hence, one supposes, the mature Sibelius’s phobic rejections of virtually all published discussions of his music: he repeatedly lamented that academic or critical explications ‘misunderstood’ him.

Bearing such conceptual weight, the production of major works became a struggle (‘wrestling with God’, he wrote in his diary on 26 January 1916). The compositional battles of the final-period works, from Luonnotar (1913) and The Oceanides (1914) to the Fifth (three versions, 1915, 1916, 1919), Sixth (1923) and Seventh (1924) Symphonies and Tapiola (1926), were shot through with an unnerving mixture of creative exhilaration and crushing self-criticism. Most of the late works went through substantial reconceptualizations, recompositions and revisions before he consented to publish them. In April 1915 he compared his compositional practice to the search for the proper reconfiguration of scattered mosaic tiles flung down from heaven. Two years later, on 20 May 1918, he would write to Carpelan, ‘I notice how my inner being has changed since the period of the Fourth Symphony. And these symphonies of mine are more confessions of faith than are my other works’.

After the Fourth Symphony Sibelius sought to forge musical structures less dependent on traditional musical shapes than on the non-systematic, intuitive logic of the musical materials selected for any given composition. As he later explained, pieces were to grow by moment-to-moment motivic transformations as spontaneously and self-assuredly as frost patterns. In his diary entries of April, May and August 1912 he repeatedly vowed to develop this new method. For example, from 8 May, ‘I intend to let the musical thoughts and their development determine their own form in my soul’. As a result, his major works after 1912, veering from the usual symphonic shapes, have provoked different analytical interpretations. The tonal and rhetorical layout of sonata form (or even ‘free sonata form’), which had governed the outer movements of Symphonies nos.1–4, seems much less determinative of The Oceanides or the outer movements of the Fifth. With the Sixth Symphony – especially its finale – and the single-movement Seventh, sonata-form references are sidelined altogether, overridden by structures that are self-evidently coherent but not easy to classify with traditional terminology.

Over the years, Sibelius analysts – Abraham, Ringbom, Parmet, Tanzberger, Simpson, Tawaststjerna, Murtomäki and others – have proposed various solutions to this problem. Most of these solutions have been grounded in free adaptations of the standard structural categories: sonata, rondo, ABA, strophic construction, scherzo and trio, variations, ritornellos and the like; categories that are often relevant to these works but are rarely satisfactory as total explanations. The most deeply-rooted analytical tradition has marvelled at the concentrated germination and metamorphosis of motivic cells within a piece (analogous to Schoenbergian Grundgestalten, ‘basic shapes’), the almost imperceptible mechanisms of tempo change and texture change, and the uncanny interrelatedness of the themes. More recently, attempts have been made to submit these works to Schenkerian readings, sometimes merging those techniques with concerns for larger architectural shapes and the conclusions of past analyses. Perhaps most provocatively, Sibelius's son-in-law, the conductor Jussi Jalas, supported Simon Parmet's argument in the 1950s for a golden-section basis for the Seventh Symphony. Jalas even mentioned that Sibelius had told him that the sectio aurea informed all of his works, but that how it operated was ‘my secret’. Elaborated in published analyses, Jalas's claim is neither supported nor contradicted by external evidence that has yet come to light. No golden-section calculations appear, for example, in the materials of the Seventh Symphony. The claim remains a topic of controversy.

A broader consideration of these later works suggests that their predominant mode of organization is a more thoroughgoing version of the procedure anticipated in such works as Lemminkäinen's Return, the finale of the Third Symphony and the slow movement of the Fourth. Sibelius never gave the procedure a name but, again, it may be called rotational form: varied recyclings of the thematic pattern established in the piece's first rotation. Rotational form produces cumulative meditations – recurrent revisitings of past cycles, transforming and gathering new ideas as they proceed – which may or may not be set in tension with the expectations of sonata expositions, developments and/or recapitulations. Sibelius typically coupled rotational form with the principle of teleological genesis: the gradual awakening of a climactic goal-utterance (telos) – the more fully awakened ‘Being’ of nature – near the end of the piece. The free-rotational principle offered maximal formal freedom while encouraging new, coherently disciplined shapes. In most cases, the thematic ordering of the initial rotation remained relatively constant throughout the later cycles, though elements could be expanded or deleted or new ones added. In the final works, such as the highly complex Seventh Symphony, the rotational cycles recur with their constituent elements significantly shuffled or treated freely.

With this new compositional approach Sibelius sought to overcome the much-vaunted distinction between two seemingly opposed orchestral genres, symphony and tone poem, striving to fuse their most basic principles: the symphony's traditional claims of heft, musical abstraction, gravitas and formal dialogue with canonic works of the past; and the tone poem's axioms of structural innovation and spontaneity, identifiable poetic content and sonorous innovation. The stylistic distinction between symphony, ‘fantasy’ and tone poem in the late works is not easy to make, particularly since ideas that were first sketched for one piece sometimes wound up in another. (The Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Symphonies and Tapiola are interrelated works, four tableaux of a comprehensive vision of the spiritual presences animating the Northern forest-world. All four contain versions of materials first planned for the Fifth in the 1914–15 sketchbooks.). When the compositional result was a multi-movement work, as with the Fifth and the Sixth Symphony, Sibelius generally did not make public the underlying, nature-based poetic ideas, even though suggestions of them might be now recoverable from sketches or other evidence. Instead, he provided it with the abstract title, ‘symphony’, although in the early stages of each he had toyed with the title of ‘fantasy’ instead. When the result was a single-movement work with multi-movement implications, as with the Seventh Symphony, the genre became more ambiguous: the manuscript parts used at the Stockholm première of the Seventh (24 March 1924) read ‘Fantasia sinfonica no.1’; by February 1925, before its publication by Wilhelm Hansen in Copenhagen, Sibelius changed the title to ‘Symphonie Nr.7/In einem Satze’ (‘in one movement’).

The four extended, single-movement works without multi-movement implications received titles identifying them as myth- or nature-based tone poems. Two of these furnish an impressive gateway into the late period: Barden (‘The Bard’, 1913), brief and elusive; and the ‘tone poem for soprano solo and orchestra’, Luonnotar (literally, ‘[Feminine] Nature-Spirit’, 1913), a reshaping of the Kalevala creation story and the most uncompromisingly Finnish of Sibelius's major works. The remaining two are masterworks of the late style: the commission for America, The Oceanides (Aallottaret, literally ‘[Feminine] Spirits of the Waves’, 1913–14 – whose suppressed, never-performed first draft had been laid out in three contrasting movements, perhaps as something of a reply to Debussy's La mer); and, above all, the disturbingly primeval forest-evocation, Tapiola (literally, ‘Where the Forest God Dwells’, 1926).

Apart from these major works, Sibelius assembled smaller compositional scraps, usually with less elevated compositional claims, into other outlets. Some became appropriate incidental music – to Poul Knudsen's tragic pantomime, Scaramouche (1913, portions of which foreshadow The Oceanides), to the Finnish translation of Hofmannsthal's Jedermann (Jokamies, 1916) and, most impressively, to Shakespeare's The Tempest (Stormen, 1925), four or five movements of which are miniatures of the highest mastery, including the ferocious, whole-tone-grounded storm music, the gentle ‘Berceuse’, ‘The Oak Tree’ and ‘Prospero’. Others were fashioned into modestly saleable works for violin and orchestra (Laetare anima mea and Ab imo pectore, 1915, both performable alternatively with cello solo; or the Six Humoresques, 1917–18) or into individually titled, occasional pieces (the starkly minimalist, oddly stirring Andante festivo for String Quartet, 1922, rearranged for string orchestra and timpani, 1938). The late period also saw a scattering of lesser works (for piano, for solo instrument and accompaniment, for chorus) that he composed for financial or locally patriotic reasons.

Originally composed for the Helsinki celebrations surrounding his 50th birthday, the triumphalist Fifth Symphony in E♭ – so different from the pessimistic Fourth – was performed in two preliminary versions (1915, 1916) before Sibelius decided on its final shape in 1919. The 1915 version, which has now been restored and recorded, contained four separate, motivically linked movements, each in rotational form: its brief, moderately paced first movement ended abruptly and was followed by a bustling scherzo that revitalized and recast the same themes; a slow movement and finale followed. In the 1916 version, no longer fully recoverable, Sibelius not only recast individual sections but also fused the first two movements by composing a climactic bridge between them. A breathtaking apotheosis of opening-page material, this bridge produced an orchestral breakthrough that sweeps commandingly through the tempo change required by the thematically related scherzo (parts of which, consequently, now also seemed somewhat recapitulatory). The 1919 revision – the familiar version – preserved the ‘fusion-form’, two-movement-in-one opening, with its slow-to-fast E♭ trajectory (a locus classicus of Sibelius's art of tempo transformation) pivoting around the majestic, central bridge upheaval on B major, but altered, reordered and condensed numerous local details in all of the movements.

Although Sibelius provided no public information about the natural imagery grounding this ‘confession of faith’, two early diary entries (21 and 24 April 1915) as well as a private remark in one of Carpelan's letters to him (‘that swan hymn beyond compare’, 15 December 1916) make it clear that the composer identified the central finale theme (ex.6) with the splendour of the migrating swans sighted seasonally around Ainola – the circling of the grand birds far above, their wings lifting and pushing against the rushing wind. Nor, apparently, was the swan-related imagery (encompassing swans, cranes and wild geese – including their cries – as disclosers of ‘nature mysticism and life's Angst!’) confined to the finale. The germinal motive on the opening page of the first movement (an ascending 2nd followed by an upward-leaping 5th, scale-steps 1̂–2̂–6̂) had been a programmatic motif in his 1908 incidental music to Strindberg's fairy-tale play Swanwhite – the horn-call blessing of Princess Swanwhite's marriage-bed, surrounded by the ‘magic forest’ teeming with fantasy animals. Similarly, much of the Fifth's middle movement recalls delicate passages from the Swanwhite movement entitled ‘The Harp’, which represents the Swan-Mother's magical bestowal of graces on her daughter, the princess.

Ex.6 Symphony no.5, finale, ‘Swan Theme’

The late 1910s ushered in a different world for Sibelius – one more isolated from the rest of Europe and more heatedly politicized within Finland. The 1914 outbreak of World War I affected him swiftly and directly: his customary European travels became unthinkable; the gears of German and English publications (and royalty payments) ground to a near halt; and his income plummeted. Three years later, Finland's declaration of independence from the new, Lenin-led Russia on 6 December 1917 fulfilled a long-cherished national dream but simultaneously triggered a brief but bloody Finnish civil war between the socialist Reds and the ultimately victorious liberal-democratic Whites. Sibelius sided emphatically with the Whites, and on the eve of the civil war, in late 1917, he composed a crudely rousing Jääkärien marssi (‘Jäger March’) for accompanied male chorus in support of the anti-Red, Finnish Jäger battalion, which had been trained in Germany. Although musically insignificant, its political effect was explosive and unabashedly partisan. From this point onward the composer was identified with the pro-nationalist, anti-leftist cause. In early 1918 the civil war brought Red Guard control to his home, Ainola, and the composer was temporarily obliged to seek shelter in Helsinki. Nor did the German-assisted, pro-White resolution of the civil war put an end to Finnish political controversies. Factional turmoil was henceforth the order of the day, and Sibelius and his family – generally supportive of the right – would be pulled into ideological and Finnish-Swedish language disputes for years to come.

Other factors too seemed watersheds: his resumption, in 1915, of frequently reckless drinking after seven years of abstinence – bringing on, by the end of the decade, a pronounced tremor of the hands; Furuhjelm's ‘official’ (Swedish-language) biography from 1916, which celebrated Sibelius's status as a classic within Finland; and the emerging maturity and marriages of his oldest daughters (his first grandchild was born in 1915). Some time between February 1918 and May 1919, his decision to transform his appearance one last time – the adoption of the now-familiar, shaved bald head – projected an altered public and private persona: Sibelius as eccentric, uncompromising, alienated thinker, the man of granite, the 20th-century successor, perhaps, to the similarly cropped Bruckner. The next few years saw the deeply personal impact of the death in April 1919 of his friend and musical confidant, Axel Carpelan; his participation in (and occasionally intemperate behaviour at) the Nordic Music Festival in Copenhagen in June 1919; his visit to England in 1921, which turned out to be his last trip to that country; his decision in 1921 to decline an offer to become director of the new Eastman School of Music in the USA; and several European trips in the mid-1920s, including his last appearances as a conductor – in Stockholm, Rome and Göteborg in 1923, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Malmö in 1924, and finally Copenhagen again in 1926.

But it may have been his drinking, his personal and financial unreliability, and the resulting domestic tension that overrode everything else. Perhaps most telling was his scandalously drunken appearance as a conductor of his Sixth Symphony in Göteborg in April 1923. This incident prompted Aino in March 1924, faced with his continued alcoholism as he composed the Seventh Symphony, not merely to upbraid him but to write him a formal note of withering condemnation, vowing not to appear in public with him for its première – a note that remained secret until after his death over three decades later. As for Sibelius, deeply depressed and concerned about his ability to complete the symphony, he confided to his diary on 11 November 1923: ‘Alcohol, which I gave up, is now my most faithful companion. And the most understanding! Everything and everyone else have largely failed me’.

The four-movement Sixth Symphony was first performed on 19 February 1923 in Helsinki. In its isolated interiority and restraint – its ‘transcendental serenity’, in the words of Heikki Klemetti, an early Finnish reviewer – it was the antithesis of sensationalism: the composer described it as ‘pure spring water’, as opposed to the cocktails served up by younger composers. Many have noted the glowing purity of its quasi-contrapuntal long lines and ‘white-note’ style, especially in its eloquent opening, and have cited Sibelius's apparently concomitant study of Palestrina and Monteverdi as contributing factors. To a Swedish interviewer in February 1924, Sibelius described the Sixth as ‘built, like the Fifth, on linear rather than harmonic foundations. … [Its] four movements … are formally completely free and do not follow the ordinary sonata scheme’. As Tawaststjerna and Kilpeläinen have more recently noted, two of its themes appear in post-1915 sketches (perhaps c1919) with nature-grounded programmatic titles: Talvi (‘Winter’, foreshadowing the first movement's eventual bars 29ff, which Tawaststjerna argued was the movement's main theme); and Hongatar ja Tuuli (‘[Feminine] Pine-Spirit and the Wind’, an important interior theme of the finale – related to the rising-theme complex shown in ex.7 below). Extrapolating from this and remarks found in the diaries, both Finnish scholars have also linked the early stages of some of the Sixth's music with Sibelius's work in 1920 on a projected tone poem, Kuutar (‘[Feminine] Moon-Spirit’).

Ex.7 Symphony no.6, finale, theme, bars 72–83

From a different cultural perspective the Sixth may also be understood as a quasi-pastoral meditation on Finnish uniqueness and difference – a maximally distilled summary of his late-style thought on the characteristic turns of minor- or Dorian-inflected Kalevalaic modality, which he had considered a central sign of Finnish ethnicity since the 1890s. Much of the Sixth is steeped in the linear motif of the D-Dorian pentachord, D–E–F–G–A (the ‘Finnish pentachord’), often outfitted with two upper extensions: the complementary tetrachord, A–B–C–D or the rounded contour, A–B–C–B–A, which replicates in a higher register the archetypically Sibelian ‘Finnish ideogram’ of a descending, linear minor 3rd. In the outer movements the D-Dorian saturation, in which sidelights and corners of the pure mode are singled out and caressed in detail, is often contrasted with the lower neighbour C major (or other C-modal) pitch collection, producing large-scale oscillations between D-Dorian and ‘C major’. In terms of thematic material – as is strongly suggested by sketch evidence – Sibelius constructed the symphony to grow towards the climactic Finnish-Dorian idea (related to the sketch-theme labelled ‘Hongatar ja Tuuli’ a few years earlier) presented in full only at a culminating point near the middle of its finale (ex.7, bars 72–83; basically rehearsal letters ‘D’ to ‘E’, subsequently recycled in an intensified restatement and led into a process of decay, decentring and valedictory farewell). Capping a four-movement process of motivic transformation, advanced rotational form and teleological genesis, this D-Dorian theme had been sketched about eight years earlier (in E♭ Dorian, and without the later ‘Pine Spirit’ label) as a proposed melody for the Fifth Symphony. It became instead the basic idea and animating force of the Sixth.

Its companion piece from 1924, the Seventh Symphony – the product of much labour, recasting and revision – is surely Sibelius's most remarkable compositional achievement (fig.2). Although brief in duration (about 22 minutes), this ‘symphony in one movement’ articulates a vastness not measurable by clock-time: its churning, ever-transforming textures and tempos track a panoramic passage through four discrete sections, each of which aspires to the integrity of a symphonic movement even while participating in the uninterrupted growth process of the whole. The Seventh provides a late example of the historical drive towards a tonally grounded ‘multi-movement form in a single movement’, a post-Beethovenian compositional problem also confronted by Liszt, Strauss, Schoenberg and others. But with the Seventh the crucial factors are its unique musical language and its fantasy-like freedom from reliance on prior solutions to this problem: Sibelius provided it with the architectural satisfactions and expressive depth of an abstract symphony while breaking away from references to sonata form and other traditional formal models. As such, developing in free conceptual space unmoored by prior expectations, the Seventh stands as the consummate realization of his late-style rethinking of form. Its ad hoc structure emerges link-by-link from the transformational processes of the musical ideas themselves – a content-based form constantly in the process of becoming.

Autograph MS from Sibelius’s Symphony no.7 in C, composed 1924 (FIN-Hy)

© Edition Wilhelm Hansen AS, Copenhagen
© Edition Wilhelm Hansen AS, Copenhagen

Because of its subtlety and the dizzyingly multiple motivic interconnections between widely separate passages, the Seventh has been resistant to traditional descriptions of its form. Differing interpretations abound. In large-scale terms, three principles seem clearly at work. First, Sibelius framed the symphony with the C major ‘bookends’ of Sections 1 and 4: the expository materials of the opening Adagio, cresting in the grand trombone theme (bar 60, seven bars after letter ‘C’), are given a freely reordered, shortened reprise (or valedictory farewell) beginning with the Presto nine bars after ‘W’. The two interior sections, grounded in the same motivic materials (as separate, freely shaped rotations), comprise a scherzo-like Vivacissimo (in place by letter ‘J’, if not earlier, after several bars of transition) and another, more expansive scherzo (perhaps the ‘Hellenic Rondo’ proposed years earlier for this symphony), beginning in C major, Allegro molto moderato, 13 bars after ‘N’. Secondly, the three full statements of the ‘trombone theme’ – perhaps consciously alluding to the horn call in Brahms's First Symphony – serve as arrival-points and conceptually organizing ‘cornerstones’ (Parmet) of the whole: they occur as the culmination of Section 1 (C major), as the chilly, windswept marker of a metrical gear-shift (C minor, around letter ‘L’) ultimately leading Section 2 into Section 3, and as a deeply affecting ‘farewell’ gesture near the opening of Section 4 (C major, three after letter ‘X’). Sibelius may have associated the trombone theme's grand vista with a contemplation of the breadth of the night sky. One of its early, rudimentary versions had been situated, along with material later placed in the Sixth Symphony, in thematic sketches for what may also have been reworked in the eventually discarded work Kuutar (‘[Feminine] Moon Spirit’: there the theme is labelled Tähtolä, ‘Where the Stars Dwell’). Thirdly, the rotational principle – the recasting of a collection of motifs in a series of multiple cycles – is dominant throughout, though treated with unprecedented freedom. Section 1, for instance, may comprise two rotations. The first, bars 1–22, lays out and provides an initial processual field for the basic motivic ideas: ascending scale, woodwind motif (bar 8), descending 4th, and so on, each of which seems to grow on its own terms; the second, bars 23–c89 (the polyphonic string passage producing the trombone theme) sets out again from the principle of linear ascent (compare bars 1–2) and reshapes the same ideas in substantially different ways.

The same kind of close-knit thinking is evident in Sibelius's last major composition (directly following his main work on the incidental music to The Tempest in 1925–6), the tone poem Tapiola, occasioned by a commission in 1926 from Walter Damrosch on behalf of the New York Philharmonic Society. Here, however, the specific gravity is even higher, quasi-minimalist in effect. The entire work, seeking an identity with the dark and ancient pine forests harbouring their hidden god, Tapio, is produced from the ramifying growth of a single, brief motif. This may be represented as 3̂–2̂–3̂–4̂–3̂–2̂–1̂ in minor (often in or around B minor, the piece's governing tonal colour), although the basic motif may be reduced even further to the ‘Finnish ideogram’, 3̂–2̂–1̂ – the heart of the work. In this respect Tapiola displays motivic intersections with the Sixth Symphony, and Sibelius may have generated its musical ideas at about the same time.

The content-based form, like its immediate predecessors grounded in transformable rotations, has provoked differing analyses: some have heard the work as a free-form, ‘evolutionary’ working of the fundamental motif; others as a ‘total variation form’; others, noting the break and double-bar before the D major ‘scherzo’ section (bar 208) and the suggestion of a varied reprise at bar 485, have proposed the presence of an imaginatively free dialogue with aspects of the sonata principle. (Sibelius, astonishingly, later remarked to his secretary Santeri Levas that Tapiola had been ‘written in a strict sonata form’.) Above all, what impresses is the work's unparalleled atmosphere, unique in the symphonic literature: its brooding stasis, gestational patience and long pedal points; its dark, hypnotic oscillations, registering an underlying, vital sway in the forest; its cold shadows and impersonal, elemental natural processes before which mere humankind fades into insignificance; its slow transformations of chordal colour (including modal, chromatic and whole-tone passages); the terrifying ferocity of its wind-lashed storms; the gathering up and climactic double-discharging of its basic motif (bars 356, 569, both triple-fortissimo), the self-disclosure of the animating forest-god.

7. 1927–57: the silence from Järvenpää.

  • James Hepokoski

Tapiola would prove to be the last of Sibelius's major works. 1927–32 were years of compositional crisis, frequent depression and waning self-confidence. They brought forth only a scattering of smaller compositions: a handful of occasional choral pieces, the draft of a suite for violin and orchestra ‘op.117’, a few curious miniatures for piano solo or violin and piano and the Surusoitto (‘Funeral Music’) for organ in memory of Akseli Gallen-Kallela. In the background were his plans for an Eighth Symphony. His initial work on it, however, probably in Berlin in 1928, appears to have run aground almost at once. This was a period when Sibelius was withdrawing even further by declining conducting engagements and avoiding public appearances. He seems to have returned to the Eighth in 1930 and 1931: as he reported in letters to Aino, it was occupying him during what proved to be his last trip outside Finland, a 1931 visit to Berlin. Within his own mind, at least, he still considered himself an active composer. In the same year he wrote to Olin Downes not only that the Eighth would soon be ‘ready for printing’ but also that he had several other ‘new works in my head’. By 1933 the multi-movement symphony was virtually completed: in the late summer he sent to his copyist what was probably the opening movement, a fascicle of 23 pages – the copyist Voigt's bill for the work survives – and indicated that seven more such fascicles would follow. They never did. The rest of the tale is tragic: Koussevitzky's and Downes's pressing of Sibelius for the long-awaited Eighth throughout the early 1930s; Sibelius's promises, hesitations and delays; the souring of the Eighth into a near-taboo topic of discussion. In the end Sibelius abandoned the project. Aino later reported to Erik Tawaststjerna that in the mid-1940s (perhaps in 1945) the composer destroyed a laundry basket of manuscripts – including what must have been the entire set of materials for the Eighth Symphony, probably in several substantially differing versions – by throwing them into the fire of the dining-room stove at Ainola.

Tapering off drastically in the late 1920s, new compositions from Sibelius came to a stop after 1931. The only exceptions are two small works for men's chorus from 1946 (Veljesvirsi and Ylistyshymni) and a few revisions of earlier, non-published pieces (most notably the 1938 orchestration of Andante festivo and the 1939 recasting of Lemminkäinen and the Island Maidens and Lemminkäinen in Tuonela, both eventually published in 1954). Anecdotal evidence suggests that he may have continued to compose intermittently, but in effect the ‘silence from Järvenpää’ was total. Sibelius retired as a grand personage of Finland, the musical symbol and most famous citizen of the nation. Within Finland official biographies (Ekman, G1935) and formal studies of the works (Roiha, J1941; Krohn, J1942) began to appear. Over the years he received numerous distinguished visitors, and his birthdays were occasions of state celebration and international recognition. The accolades for his much-noted 70th birthday in 1935 included the Germany Goethe Medal, awarded by Hitler, who doubtless (and quite apart from Sibelius's views) considered this gesture an advantageous affirmation of racial and Nordic solidarity. Important recordings of his works also emerged in the early 1930s, beginning with the officially-sponsored Kajanus recordings in 1930 and 1932 of Symphonies nos.1, 2, 3 and 5, two movements from the Karelia Suite, Pohjola's Daughter, Belshazzar's Feast and Tapiola. Koussevitzky recorded the Seventh Symphony in 1933, following it in 1935 with the Second; George Schnéevoigt's Fourth, Sixth and Luonnotar were produced in 1934. Sibelius himself was persuaded to record the Andante festivo in 1939, though as part of a short-wave broadcast, not as a commercial recording. (Decades later, a different recording was wrongly identified and released as Sibelius's; the confusion was clarified only in the mid-1990s.) The 1930s also saw the cresting of a wave of frequent Sibelius performances in England and the USA. Several British composers of the 1930s, in particular, seem to have been caught up in the Sibelius ‘cult’ and to have reflected it in their own music (Vaughan Williams's Fifth Symphony; Walton's First).

As Sibelius's popularity peaked in English-speaking countries – while Austria, Germany and France remained relatively uninterested – opinions about his work polarized along ideological lines, with disastrous results for his subsequent reputation in the critical and academic world in the second half of the century. Sibelius's traditionalist supporters – Cecil Gray, Constant Lambert, Olin Downes and others – claimed him as the last true successor to Beethoven and adduced the composer's works in their own campaigns against the dissonant new music. Pro-modernist factions responded with lacerating criticism and contempt for the taste shown by Sibelians. On the neo-classical side Virgil Thomson carried the charge forward: the Second Symphony was ‘vulgar, self-indulgent, and provincial beyond all description’. In the pro-Schoenberg camp Theodor W. Adorno, in the enormously influential ‘Glosse über Sibelius’ (I1938), derided the veneration for Sibelius as a shabbily deluded, market-driven false consciousness and denounced the composer's musical technique as reactionary and inept, the ‘originality of helplessness’. Nearly two decades later René Leibowitz issued a pamphlet (I1955) labelling Sibelius, on essentially the same grounds, ‘le plus mauvais compositeur du monde’.

The issues at stake were not only musical ones. Viewed from certain combative angles, especially among leftist or avant-garde critics, Sibelius's world-view could be interpreted as uncomfortably assimilable into the ‘blood-and-soil’ ideologies promoted by the Third Reich (this, in fact, was precisely one of Adorno's charges). Such criticism looked warily on Sibelius's lifelong attraction to the ‘truth’ supposedly embedded in ethnic identity, on his deadly serious aesthetic invocations of archaic folk gods, on his manifest discomfort with modern urbanism and on his anti-technological retreat back to ‘nature’. Additional factors, surely, were his well-known anti-socialist politics and the historical fact of Finland's ‘continuation-war’ alliance of convenience with Nazi Germany in 1941–4 against the much-hated Soviets – for which the composer made an Associated Press appeal for understanding on 12 July 1941. All these things doubtless had their roles to play as underlying, often tacit factors in mid-century Sibelius reception.

Obscured among the politicized charges and implications, it seems, was the complexity of the real man, who was by no means so readily classifiable. It should be added that in several diary entries from September 1943 a deeply troubled Sibelius denounced Nazi racial laws and theories as ‘petty’, ‘puerile’ and ‘humbug’: ‘This primitive way of thinking, anti-Semitism and the like, is something that at my age I cannot condone. My upbringing and breeding don't fit in with the times’. He went on to counsel himself as a ‘genius’ and ‘artist’: ‘You are a cultural aristocrat and can make a stand against stupid prejudice’; and he intermixed these remarks with characteristic despair about the reception of his own works: ‘Only very few understand what I have done and want to do in the world of the symphony. The majority have no idea of what it is about’.

By the 1950s, the decade of the flowering of the postwar avant-garde, Sibelius's reputation had plummeted among élite modernists, and it seemed to slump among concert audiences as well, notwithstanding the entrenched persistence of the Second Symphony and the Violin Concerto, the devoted support of several eminent conductors and a modest, ever-renewing faction of admirers. For the rest of the century, historians writing official accounts of what came to be called ‘modern music’ or ‘20th-century music’ would routinely blank him out of their histories or mention him briefly and patronizingly as a mere nationalist or faded holdover from the 19th century. Within the late 20th-century academy, itself conservatively wedded to one-sided conceptions of ‘modernism’, this inadequate picture has proved difficult to move beyond, even as audiences in recent years have once again shown signs of renewed interest, and even as his technique of slow textural transformation found a new following in the 1970s and 80s among some of the minimalist and post-minimalist composers.

Sibelius died of a cerebral haemorrhage on 20 September 1957: he was buried at Ainola. Over the next few decades Sibelius research – archival, biographical, analytical – began to gather steam, centring primarily around the Sibelius Museum in Turku (Otto Andersson, more recently Fabian Dahlström) and Helsinki University (Erik Tawaststjerna, more recently Kari Kilpeläinen). Grounded in basic research documents, many of which had never before been made public, and in conversations with the family, Tawaststjerna's five-volume biography (1965–88) put Sibelius studies on a new plane. Other factors, too, have given a new push to Sibelius research: the availability of the composer's sketches, drafts and autograph manuscripts, an enormous collection housed primarily, since 1982, in the Helsinki University Library; Dahlström's clarifications in the 1980s and 90s of many elusive issues regarding the chronology of the works and their complicated publication history; the Swedish recording company BIS's project, complemented by releases on the Finnish labels Ondine and Finlandia, of recording the bulk of Sibelius's output, including early works, unpublished works and long-suppressed early versions of known pieces (En saga, the Violin Concerto, the Fifth Symphony); the bibliographical, biographical and reception studies of Glenda Dawn Goss; and the launching in Finland of plans for a complete, scholarly edition of the works, the first volumes of which began to appear in 1999. A substantial and long overdue reassessment of Sibelius seems to have begun.


  • Fabian Dahlström


Jean Sibelius: Works, ed. F. Dahlström, G.D. Goss and others (Wiesbaden, 1999–) [JSW]



Näcken [The Watersprite] (song for play, G. Wennerberg), 1888 [rest of incid music by M. Wegelius]

music to historical tableaux, ov. and 9 nos., 1893, unpubd; ov. rev. as Karelia Ov., op. 10, 1893; 3 nos. rev. as Karelia Suite, op.11, 1893: Intermezzo, Ballade, Alla marcia; Intermezzo and Ballade arr. pf, ?1897

Jungfrun i tornet [The Maiden in the Tower] (op, 1, R. Hertzberg), 1896, unpubd, Helsinki, 7 Nov 1896


Ödlan [The Lizard] (incid music, M. Lybeck), 1909, Helsinki, Svenska Teatern, 6 April 1910


Kung Kristian II (incid music, A. Paul), 7 nos., 1898; suite, 4 nos., 1898; 4 nos. arr. pf, 1898; no.4 arr. as Sången om korsspindeln [Fool's Song of the Spider], 1v, pf, 1898

music for Press Celebrations, 7 nos., 1899, Helsinki, Svenska Teatern, 4 Nov 1899; nos. 2, 5 and 4 rev. as Scènes historiques, op.25, 1911; no.7 rev. as Finlandia, op.26, orch, 1900; section of no.7 again rev. as Finlandia-hymni, male chorus, 1938, rev. mixed chorus, 1948

Kuolema [Death] (incid music, A. Järnefelt), 1903, 6 nos., unpubd; no.1 rev. as Valse triste, op.44/1, orch, 1904, arr. pf, 1904; nos.3–4 rev. as Scene with Cranes, op.44/2, 1906; also 2 addl pieces for new production in 1911: Canzonetta, op.62a, Valse romantique, op.62b

Musik zu einer Szene (incid music), 1904, unpubd; arr. pf, op.45/2, as Tanssi-intermezzo, pf version orchd 1907


Pelléas och Mélisande (incid music, M. Maeterlinck, trans. B. Gripenberg), 10 nos., 1904–5; suite, 1905, arr. pf, 1905; no.6 arr. 1v, pf as Les trois soeurs aveugles, 1905


Belsazars gästabud [Belshazzar's Feast] (incid music, H. Procopé), 10 nos., 1906, unpubd; suite, 1906–7, arr. pf, 1907; no.2b arr as Solitude, 1v, pf, 1939, unpubd


Svanevit [Swanwhite] (incid music, A. Strindberg), 13 nos., 1908; suite, 1909


Trettondagsafton [Twelfth Night] (2 songs, W. Shakespeare, trans. Hagberg), 1v, gui/pf, 1909: Kom nu hit, död [Come Away, Death], also arr. 1v, hp, str, 1957; Hållilå, uti storm och i regn [Hey ho, the Wind and Rain]

Die Sprache der Vögel (wedding march for play, A. Paul), 1911


Scaramouche (music for tragic pantomime, P. Knudsen), 1913; Danse élégiaque arr. pf, 1914; Scène d'amour arr. pf, 1914, arr. vn, pf, 1925


Jokamies [Everyman] (incid music, H. von Hofmannsthal, trans. H. Jalkanen), 16 nos., 1916, unpubd, Helsinki, Finnish National, 5 Nov 1916; 3 nos. arr. pf, 1925–6, unpubd


Stormen [The Tempest] (incid music, Shakespeare, trans. E. Lembcke), 34 nos., 1925; prelude, 2 suites arr. 1927; 3 nos. arr. pf, 1927


Overture, E, 1890–91, Helsinki Orchestral Society, cond. Kajanus, Helsinki, 23 April 1891

Scène de ballet, 1891, Helsinki Orchestral Society, cond. Kajanus, Helsinki, 23 April 1891


Cassazione, 1904, Philharmonic Society, Helsinki, cond. Sibelius, 8 Feb 1904; rev. 1905


En saga, 1892, Helsinki Orchestral Society, cond. Sibelius, 16 Feb 1893; rev. 1902, Philharmonic Society, cond. Kajanus, Helsinki, 3 Nov 1902

10, 11

Karelia, ov. and suite, 1893 [based on music to historical tableaux, 1893]

Impromptu, str, 1894 [arr. of pf pieces op.5/5–6], Musical Society of Turku, cond. Sibelius, Turku, 17 Feb 1894

Scherzo, str, 1894 [arr. of Scherzo from Str Qt, op.4], Musical Society of Turku, cond. Sibelius, Turku, 17 Feb 1894

Menuett, 1894, unpubd, Orchestral Society, cond. Kajanus, Helsinki, 23 Oct 1894


Rakastava, str, 1911–12 [recomposition of unacc. choral work, op.14], Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 16 March 1912


Skogsrået [The Wood Nymph] (Ballade), tone poem, 1895 [recomposition of work for reciter, pf, 2 hn, str, 1895], Helsinki Orchestral Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 17 April 1895


Vårsång [Spring Song], tone poem, 1894, cond. Sibelius, Vaasa, 21 June 1894, lost

rev. 1895, Helsinki Orchestral Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 17 April 1895; rev. 1902, Philharmonic Society, cond. Kajanus, Helsinki, 12 Dec 1903


Lemminkäis-sarja [Lemminkäinen Suite], Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, 13 April 1896: 1 Lemminkäinen ja saaren neidot [Lemminkäinen and the Maidens of the Island], 1895, rev. 1897, 1939; 2 [orig. no.3] Tuonelan joutsen [The Swan of Tuonela], 1895, rev. 1897, 1900; 3 [orig. no.2] Lemminkäinen Tuonelassa [Lemminkäinen in Tuonela], 1893, rev. 1897, 1939; 4 Lemminkäinen palaa kotitienoille [Lemminkäinen's Return], 1895, rev. 1897, 1900


Scènes historiques I, suite, 1911 [based on 3 nos. from music for Press Celebrations, 1899], Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 11 Oct 1911


Finlandia, 1900 [based on no.7 from music for Press Celebrations, 1899], Philharmonic Society, cond. Kajanus, Helsinki, 2 July 1900


Symphony no.1, e, 1899, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 26 April 1899; rev. 1900, Philharmonic Society, cond. Kajanus, Helsinki, 1 July 1900

Porilaisten marssi [March of the Björneborgers], arr. 1900, unpubd, Philharmonic Society, cond. Kajanus, Stockholm, 4 July 1900


Romance, C, str, 1904, Musical Society of Turku, cond. Sibelius, Turku, 26 March 1904


Symphony no.2, D, 1901–2, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 8 March 1902; JSW i/3

Overture, a, 1902, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 8 March 1902


Valse triste, 1904, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 25 April 1904: see stage [Kuolema, 1903]


Kurkikohtaus [Scene with Cranes], 1906: see stage [Kuolema, 1903]

Cortège, 1905, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 30 April 1905


Dryaden [The Dryad], tone poem, 1910, Musikforeningen, cond. Sibelius, Oslo, 8 Oct 1910; arr. pf as Die Dryade, 1910


Tanssi-intermezzo [Dance Intermezzo], orchd 1907 [from Musik zu einer Szene, 1904]


Violin Concerto, d, 1903–4, V. Nováčèk, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, 8 Feb 1904, rev. 1905, K. Halíř, Berlin PO, cond. R. Strauss, Berlin, 19 Oct 1905


Pohjolan tytär [Pohjola's Daughter], sym. fantasia, 1905–6, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, cond. Sibelius, St Petersburg, 29 Dec 1906


Symphony no.3, C, 1907, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 24 March 1906


Pan och Echo, dance intermezzo, 1906, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 24 March 1906; arr. pf, 1907


Öinen ratsastus ja auringonnousu [Night Ride and Sunrise], tone poem, 1908, cond. A. Ziloti, St Petersburg, 23 Jan 1909


In memoriam, funeral march, 1909, rev. 1910, Musikforeningen, cond. Sibelius, Oslo, 8 Oct 1910


Canzonetta, Valse romantique, 1911 [from stage work Kuolema, 1903]


Symphony no.4, a, 1910–11, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 3 April 1911

Hochzeitzug, 1911 [from stage work Die Sprache der Vögel, 1911]


Barden [The Bard], tone poem, 1913, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 27 March 1913; rev. 1914, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 9 Jan 1916


Scènes historiques II, suite, 1912, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 29 March 1912


Two Serenades, vn, orch, D, g, 1912–13, R. Burgin, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki PO, Helsinki, 8 Dec 1915


Aallottaret [The Oceanides], tone poem, 1914, cond. Sibelius, Norfolk, CT, 4 June 1914


Two Pieces, vn/vc, orch: Laetare anima mea, 1914, Ab imo pectore, 1915, O. Fohström (vc), Helsinki PO, cond. Sibelius, 30 March 1916; arr. vn/vc, pf, 1915


Symphony no.5, E♭, 1915, Helsinki PO, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 8 Dec 1915; rev. 1916, Musical Society of Turku, cond. Sibelius, Turku, 8 Dec 1916; rev. 1919, Helsinki PO, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 24 Nov 1919


Humoresques nos.1–2, d, D, vn, orch, 1917, perf. with nos.3–6, P. Cherkassky, Helsinki PO, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 24 Nov 1919


Humoresques nos.3–6, g, g, E♭, g, vn, orch, 1917, perf. details as op.87

Promootiomarssi [Academic March], 1919, Helsinki PO, cond. Kajanus, Helsinki U., 31 May 1919


Jääkärien marssi, orch, male vv ad lib, 1918 [arr. of work for male chorus, pf, 1917]


Valse lyrique, 1920 [orch of pf work], Helsinki PO, cond. Kajanus, Helsinki, 6 April 1922


Autrefois (Scène pastorale), orch, 2 S ad lib, 1919, S. Dahlström, C. Alfthan, Helsinki PO, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 1919; arr. pf, 1920


Valse chevaleresque, 1921 [orch of pf work], Helsinki PO, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 19 Feb 1923


Suite mignonne, 2 fl, str, 1921, Helsinki PO, cond. K. Ekman, Helsinki, 6 April 1922; arr. pf, 1921


Suite champêtre, str, 1923, Helsinki PO, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 19 Feb 1923; arr. pf, 1923


Suite caractéristique, hp, str, 1922, Helsinki PO, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 19 Feb 1923; arr. pf, 1922


Symphony no.6, d, 1923, Helsinki PO, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 19 Feb 1923


Symphony no.7, C, 1924, first perf. as Fantasia sinfonica, Konsertföreningen, cond. Sibelius, Stockholm, 24 March 1924

Morceau romantique sur un motif de M. Jacob de Julin, 1925, Helsinki PO, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 9 March 1925; arr. pf, 1925


Tapiola, tone poem, 1926, New York Symphonic Society, cond. Damrosch, New York, 26 Dec 1926

Symphony no.8, c1928–33, destroyed

Suite, vn, orch, 1929, unfinished [originally designated op.117]

See also stage [suites from Kung Kristian II, op.27; Pelléas och Melisande, op.46; Belsazars gästabud, op.51; Svanevit, op.54; Stormen, op.109]

Accompanied choral

Upp genom luften [Up through the Air] (Atterbom), chorus, pf, 1888, unpubd

Vi kysser du fader min fästmö här? [Why, father, do you kiss my sweetheart here?] (Runeberg), female chorus, pf, 1889–90, unpubd


Kullervo (sym., Kalevala), S, Bar, male chorus, orch, 1891–2, E. Achté, A. Ojanperä, Helsinki Orchestra Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 28 April 1892; excerpt: Kullervon valitus [Kullervo's Lament], arr. Bar, pf, 1892, rev. 1917–18, orchd 1957

Cantata for the Helsinki University ceremonies of 1894 (Lönnbohm), chorus, orch, 1894, unpubd; excerpt: Juhlamarssi [Festival March], arr. chorus, 1896

Cantata for the Coronation of Nicholas II (Cajander), chorus, orch, 1896, unpubd; excerpts: Krönungsmarsch, orch, 1896; Terve ruhtinatar, arr. children's chorus, ?1913

Cantata for the Helsinki University ceremonies of 1897 (Koskimies), solo vv, chorus, orch, 1897 [frags.]; 9 songs arr. as op.23, chorus, ?1898

Ohi ‘Caroli’, Tippole trappole, It. songs, chorus, insts, 1897–8 [frags.]

Carminalia (Lat. student songs), children's chorus, pf/hmn, 1898


Impromptu (V. Rydberg), female chorus, orch, 1902, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 8 March 1902; rev. 1910, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 29 March 1910


Sandels (improvisation, J.L. Runeberg), male chorus, orch, 1898, Sällskapet Muntra Musikanter, Philharmonic Society, cond. G. Sohlström, Helsinki, 16 March 1900; rev. 1915, Sällskapet Muntra Musikanter, Helsinki PO, cond. G. Schnéevoigt, Helsinki, 14 Dec 1915


Snöfrid (improvisation, Rydberg), reciter, chorus, orch, 1900, cond. R. Kajanus, Helsinki 20 Oct 1900


Islossningen i Uleå älv [The Breaking of the Ice on the Oulu River] (improvisation, Z. Topelius), reciter, male chorus, orch, 1899, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 21 Oct 1899; excerpt: Nejden, arr. children's chorus, ?1913


Laulu Lemminkäiselle [A Song for Lemminkäinen] (Y. Veijola), male chorus, orch, ?1896, unpubd, Yliuppilaskunnan Laulajat, Philharmonic Society, cond. J. Hahl, Helsinki, 2 Dec 1896


Har du mod? [Do you have courage?] (J.J. Wecksell), male chorus, orch, 1904, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 8 Feb 1904; rev. male chorus, pf, 1911–12


Atenarnes sång [Song of the Athenians] (Rydberg), boys' chorus, male chorus, ww, brass, db, perc, 1899, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 26 April 1899; arr. vv, pf, hmn ad lib, 1899, arr. vv, brass band, 1899


Tulen synty [The Origin of Fire] (Kalevala), Bar, male chorus, orch, 1902, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 9 April 1902; rev. 1910


Koskenlaskijan morsiamet (Oksanen), male chorus, orch, c1943: see solo vocal (with orchestra)


Vapautettu kuningatar [The Captive Queen] (cant., P. Cajander), chorus, orch, 1906, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 12 May 1906

Three Songs for American Schools, chorus, pf, 1913: Autumn Song (Dixon); The Sun upon the Lake is Low (W. Scott); A Cavalry Catch (Macleod)


Jääkärien marssi [Jäger March] (H. Nurmio), male chorus, pf, 1917, cond. O. Wallin, Helsinki, 19 Jan 1918 [first perf. with brass septet]; arr. orch, male chorus ad lib, 1918, cond. Kajanus, Helsinki, 20 April 1918


Partiolaisten marssi [Scout March] (J. Finne), chorus, pf, 1918; arr. chorus, orch, ?1918, arr. chorus, pf, 1921, rev. as The World Song of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, 1951–2


Oma maa [Our Native Land] (cant., Kallio), chorus, orch, 1918; Kansalliskuoro, Helsinki PO, cond. A. Maasalo, 24 Oct 1918


Jordens sång [Song of the Earth] (cant., J. Hemmer), chorus, orch, 1919, cond. Sibelius, Turku, 11 Oct 1919


Maan virsi [Hymn to the Earth] (cant., E. Leino), chorus, orch, 1920, cond. H. Klemetti, Helsinki, 4 April 1920

Kolme johdantovuorolaulua [3 Introductory Antiphons], chorus, org, 1925

Herran siunaus [God's Blessing], chorus, org, 1925


Väinön virsi [Väinö's Song] (cant., Kalevala), chorus, orch, 1926, cond. Kajanus, Sortavala, 28 June 1926


Masonic Ritual Music (Schiller, Confucius, J.W. von Goethe, Simelius, Rydberg, Sario, Korpela, Sola), male chorus, hmn/org: Opening Hymn, 1927; Suloinen aate [Thoughts be our comfort] (von Schober), 1927; Näätkö kuinka hennon yrtin [Though young leaves] (Pao Chao), 1927; Ken kyynelin [Who ne'er hath blent his bread with tears] (J.W. von Goethe), 1927; On kaunis maa [How Fair is the Earth] (Simelius), 1926; Salem (Rydberg), 1927; Varje själ som längtan brinner [Whosoever hath a love] (Rydberg), 1927; Veljesvirsi [Ode to Fraternity] (Sario), 1946, rev. 1948; Ylistyshymni [Hymn] (Sario), 1946, rev. 1948; Marche funèbre, 1927; Suur' olet, Herra [You are mighty, O Lord] (Korpela) [see unacc. choral work Den höga himlen, 1927]; Finlandia Hymn [from stage work, music for Press Celebrations]

Karjalan osa [Karelia's Fate] (march, Nurminen), male chorus, pf, 1930

Suur' olet, Herra, chorus, org, 1945 [from Den höga himlen, unacc. chorus, 1927]

Unaccompanied choral

Ack, hör du fröken Gyllenborg [Oh, do you hear, Miss Gyllenborg] (folksong arr.), chorus, 1888–9, unpubd

Ensam i dunkla skogarnas famn [Alone in the Depths of the Forests] (von Qvanten), chorus, 1888

Hur blekt är allt [How pale it all is] (Runeberg), chorus, 1888, unpubd

När sig våren åter föder [When spring once more comes to life] (Runeberg), chorus, 1888, unpubd

Tanke, se hur fågeln svingar [Imagine, see how the bird swoops] (Runeberg), chorus, 1888, unpubd

Työkansan marssi [Workers' March] (Erkko), chorus, 1893

Heitä, koski, kuohuminen [Leave off foaming, cataract] (Kalevala), male chorus, 1893 [frag.], recomposed as 2nd movt of Pf Sonata, op.12

Soitapas sorea neito [Play, pretty maiden] (Kanteletar), T, chorus, 1893–4, unpubd


Rakastava [The Lover] (Kanteletar), male chorus, 1894; arr. male chorus, str, 1894, unpubd; arr. mixed chorus, 1898; recomposed for str, triangle, timp, 1911–12

Laulun mahti [The Power of the Song], male chorus, 1895 [arr. of ballad by J. Vihtol]

Juhlamarssi, chorus, 1896 [from Cantata, chorus, orch, 1894]

Aamusumussa [Morning Mist] (J.H. Erkko), chorus, 1897, arr. children's chorus, ?1913

Carminalia (Lat. student songs), children’s chorus, 1898


Six partsongs, male chorus: Sortunut ääni [The Broken Voice] (Kanteletar), 1898, arr. mixed chorus, 1898; Terve kuu [Hail, O Moon!] (Kalevala), 1901; Venemakta [The Boat Journey] (Kalevala), 1893, arr. mixed chorus, 1914; Saarella palaa [Fire on the Island] (Kanteletar), 1895, arr. mixed chorus, 1898; Metsämiehen laulu [Forest Invocation] (A. Kivi), 1899; Sydämeni laulu [Song of my Heart] (Kivi), 1898, arr. mixed chorus, 1904


Hymn (Natus in curas) (F. Gustafsson), male chorus, 1896

Kuutamolla [In the Moonlight] (A. Suonio), male chorus, 1898

Min rastas raataa [The Thrush’s Toiling] (Kanteletar), chorus, 1898


9 songs, chorus, ?1898 [from Cantata, chorus, orch, 1897]: Me nuoriso Suomen [We, the youth of Finland], Tuuli tuudittele [Rock, Wind], Oi toivo, toivo sä lietomieli [O hope, hope, you dreamer], Montapa elon merellä [Many of the sea of life], Sammuva sainio maan [The Fading Thoughts of the Earth], Soi kiitoksesksi Luojan [We praise thee, our creator], Tuule, tuuli, leppeämmin [Blow, wind, more gently], Oi Lempi, sun valtas ääretön on [O love, your realm is limitless], Kun virta vuolas [As the swift current], Oi kallis Suomi, äiti verraton [Oh precious Finland, incomparable mother]

Isänmaalle [To the Fatherland] (P. Cajander), chorus, 1900, arr. male chorus, 1908

Kotikaipaus [Nostalgia] (W. von Konow), female chorus, 1902

Till Thérèse Hahl (N. Wastjerna), chorus, 1902 [2 settings]

Veljeni vierailla maalla [Song of Exile], male chorus, 1904

Ej med klagan [Not with lamentation] (J.L. Runeberg), chorus, 1905

Kansakoululaisten marssi [Primary School Children's March], children's chorus, 1910

Cantata (von Konow), female chorus, 1911


Män från slätten och havet [People of Land and Sea] (E.V. Knape), chorus, 1911


Kellosävel Kallion kirkossa [The Bells of Kallio Church] (H. Klemetti), chorus, 1912, arr. pf, 1912

Uusmaalaisten laulu [Song for the People of Uusimaa] (K. Terhi), male/mixed chorus, 1912

Terve ruhtinatar, children's chorus, ?1913 [arr. from Cantata, chorus, orch, 1894]

Nejden andas, children's chorus, ?1913 [from Islossningen i Uleå älv, reciter, male chorus, orch, op.30]


Five partsongs, male chorus: Herr Lager och Skön fager [Mr Lager and the Fair One], 1914; På berget [On the Mountain] (B. Gripenberg), 1915; Ett drömackord [A Dream Chord] (G. Fröding), 1915; Evige Eros [Eternal Eros] (Gripenberg), 1915; Till havs [At Sea] (J. Reuter), 1917

Drömmarna [Dreams] (Reuter), chorus, 1917

Fridolins dårskap [Fridolin's Folly] (E.A. Karlfeldt), male chorus, 1917

Brusande rusar en våg [The Roaring of a Wave] (G. Schybergson), male chorus, 1918

Jone havsfärd [Jonah's Voyage] (Karlfeldt), male chorus, 1918

Ute hörs stormen [Outside the storm is raging] (Schybergson), male chorus, 1918

Viipurin lauluveikkojen kunniamarssi [Honour March of the Singing Brothers of Viipuri] (E. Eerola), male chorus, 1920, new setting 1929

Likhet [Resemblance] (Runeberg), male chorus, 1922

Koulutie [The Way to School] (V.A. Koskenniemi), chorus, 1924


Two Partsongs (Larin Kyösti), male chorus, 1924–5: Humoreski, Ne pitkän matkan kulkijat [Wanderers on the Long Way]

Skolsång [School Song] (Runeberg), chorus, 1925

Skyddskårsmarsch [Suojeluskunta's March] (Runeberg), chorus, 1925, unpubd

Den höga himlen [The Lofty Heaven] (J. Tegengren), chorus/org, 1927 [from Masonic Ritual Music, male chorus, org, op.113]; arr. as Suur’ olet, Herra [You are Mighty, O Lord] (S. Korpela), male chorus, org, 1945

Siltavahti [The Bridge Guard] (W. Sola), male chorus, 1928; arr. 1v, pf, 1928, unpubd

Jouluna [Christmas Song] (Jaakkola), chorus, 1929

Finlandia-hymni, male chorus, 1938 [based on section of no.7 from music for Press Celebrations, 1899]; arr. mixed chorus, 1948

for further arrangements see solo vocal (with piano), op.1

Solo vocal

With orchestra

Serenade (E.J. Stagnelius), Bar, orch, 1894–5, A. Ojanperä, Helsinki Orchestra Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 17 April 1895


Arioso (J.L. Runeberg), S, str, 1911, I. Ekman, Turku Musical Society, cond. K. Ekman, Turku, 30 March 1914; arr. 1v, pf, 1911, I. Ekman, K. Ekman, Helsinki, 18 Sept 1913


Koskenlaskijan morsiamet [The Rapid-Rider’s Brides] (A. Oksanen), Bar/Mez, orch, 1897, A. Ojanperä, Philharmonic Society, cond. Sibelius, Helsinki, 1 Nov 1897; arr. male chorus, orch, 1943, Laulu-Miehet, Helsinki RSO, cond. M. Turunen, Helsinki, 22 April 1945


Luonnotar (tone poem, Kalevala), S, orch, 1913, A. Ackté, Gloucester, 10 Sept 1913


Autrefois (Scène pastorale), 1919: see orchestral

For vocal-orchestral arrangements of other pieces see stage [opp.27, 60], accompanied choral [op.7] and solo vocal (with piano) [opp.13, 17, 36, 38, 57]

With piano

Serenad (J.L. Runeberg), 1888

En visa [A Song] (Baeckman), 1888

Orgier [Orgies] (L. Stenbäck), 1888–9

Skogsrået [The Wood Nymph] (V. Rydberg), 1888–9

Likhet [Resemblance] (Runeberg), 1890

Den första kyssen [The First Kiss] (Runeberg), 1891–2

Tule, tule, kultani [Come, my Sweetheart] (folksong arr.), 1892


Five Christmas Songs: Nu står jul vid snöig port [Now Christmas stands at the snowy gate] (Z. Topelius), 1913; Nu så kommer julen [Now Christmas is coming] (Topelius), 1913; Det mörknar ute [Outside it is getting dark] (Topelius), 1897; Giv mig ej glans, ej guld, ej prakt [Give me no splendour, gold or pomp] (Topelius), 1909; arr. male chorus, 1935, arr. female chorus, 1942, arr. children's chorus, 1954; On hanget korkeat [High are the snowdrifts] (Joukahainen), 1901; JSW viii/2


Seven Songs (Runeberg): Under strandens granar ['Neath the Fir Trees], 1892; Kyssens hopp [Kiss's Hope], 1892; Hjärtats morgon [The Heart's Morning], 1891; Våren flyktar hastigt [Spring is Flying], 1891, orchd 1913; Drömmen [The Dream], 1891; Till Frigga [To Fricka], 1892; Jägargossen [The Young Sportsman], 1891; JSW viii/2


Seven Songs: Se'n har jag ej frågat mera [Then I questioned no further] (Runeberg), 1891–2, orchd ?1903; Sov in! [Slumber] (K.A. Tavaststjerna), 1891–2, rev. ?1894; Fågellek [Enticement] (Tavaststjerna), 1891; Vilse [Astray] (Tavaststjerna), 1898, rev. 1902; En slända [A Dragonfly] (O. Levertin), 1904; Illalle [To Evening] (A.V. Forsman-Koskimies), 1898; Lastu lainehilla [Driftwood] (I. Calamnius), 1902; JSW viii/2

Segelfahrt [Sailing] (J. Öhquist), 1899

Souda, souda sinisorsa [Row, row, duck] (A.V. Forsman), 1899


Two Songs, 1907–8; Jubal (E. Josephson), Teodora (B. Gripenberg); JSW viii/2


Six Songs, 1899: Svarta rosor [Black Roses] (Josephson) Men min fågel märks dock icke [But my bird is nowhere to be seen] (Runeberg), 1899; Bollspelet vid Trianon [Tennis at Trianon] (Fröding), 1899; Säv, säv, susa [Reed, reed, rustle] (Fröding), 1990; Marssnön [March Snow] (Wecksell), 1900; Demanten på marssnön [The Diamond on the March Snow] (Wecksell), 1900, orchd 1916–17; JSW viii/2


Five Songs: Den första kyssen [The First Kiss] (Runeberg), 1900; Lasse liten [Little Lasse] (Topelius), 1902; Soluppgång [Sunrise] (Hedberg), 1902; Var det en dröm? [Was it a dream?] (Wecksell), 1902; Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings möte [The girl returned from meeting her lover] (Runeberg), 1901; JSW viii/2


Five Songs: Höstkväll [Autumn Evening] (Rydberg), 1903, orchd 1904 [2 versions]; På verandan vid havet [On a balcony by the sea] (Rydberg), 1902, orchd 1903; I natten [In the Night] (Rydberg), 1903, orchd 1903; Harpolekaren och hans son [The Harper and his Son] (Rydberg), 1904; Jag ville jag vore i Indialand [I wish I dwelt in India land] (Fröding), 1904; JSW viii/2

Erloschen [The fire has died out] (Busse-Palma), 1906


Six Songs, 1906: Lenzgesang (A. Fitger); Sehnsucht (R. Weiss); Im Feld ein Mädchen singt (M. Susman); Aus banger Brust (Dehmel); Die stille Stadt (R. Dehmel); Rosenlied (A. Ritter)

Hymn to Thaïs, the Unforgettable (A.H. Borgström), 1909


Eight Songs (Josephson), 1909: Älven och snigeln [The River and the Snail], En blomma stod vid vägen [A Flower in the Path], Kvarnhjulet [The Millwheel], Maj [May], Jag är ett träd [The Tree], Hertig Magnus [Baron Magnus], Vänskapens blomma [The Flower of Friendship], Näcken [The Elf King]


Eight Songs, 1910: Långsamt som kvällskyn [Shall I forget thee?] (Tavaststjerna), Vattenplask [Lapping Waters] (Rydberg), När jag drömmer [When I dream] (Tavaststjerna), Romeo (Tavaststjerna), Romans [Romance] (Tavaststjerna), Dolce far niente (Tavaststjerna), Fåfäng önskan [Idle Wishes] (Runeberg), Vårtagen [Spell of Springtime] (Gripenberg)


Six Songs: Vi ses igen [We will meet again] (Rydberg), 1914, lost

Orions bälte [Orion's Belt] (Topelius), 1914, lost

Kyssen [The Kiss] (Rydberg), 1915; Kaiutar [The Echo Nymph] (Larin Kyösti), 1915; Der Wanderer und der Bach (M. Greif), 1915; Hundra vägar [A Hundred Ways] (Runeberg), 1907


Six Songs: Vårförnimmelser [The Coming of Spring] (Tavaststjerna), 1916; Längtan heter min arvedel [Vain longings are my heritage] (E.A. Karlfeldt), 1916; Dold förening [Hidden Union] (C. Snoilsky), 1916; Och finns det en tanke? [And is there a thought?] (Tavaststjerna), 1916; Sångarlön [The Singer's Reward] (Snoilsky), 1916; I systrar, I bröder, I älskande par! [Ye sisters, ye brothers, ye loving couples!] (Lybeck), 1917


Six Songs, 1917: Blåsippan [The Anemone] (F.M. Franzén), De bägge rosorna [The Two Roses] (Franzén), Vitsippan [The Wood Anemone] (Franzén), Sippan [The Primrose] (Runeberg), Törnet [The Thorn] (Runeberg), Blommans öde [The Flower's Destiny] (Runeberg)


Six Songs (Runeberg), 1917: Norden [The North], Hennes budskap [Her Message], Morgonen [The Morning], Fågelfängaren [The Bird Catcher], Sommarnatten [Summer Night], Vem styrde hit din väg? [Who brought you here?]

Små flickorna [Little Girls] (Procopé), 1920

Narciss (Gripenberg), 1925

For arrangements of other songs for solo voice and piano see stage [opp.27, 46, 51, 60], accompanied choral [Kullervo, op.7], unaccompanied choral [Siltavahti, 1928] and solo vocal (with orchestra) [Arioso, op.3]


Tanken [The Thought] (Runeberg), 2 S, pf, 1915, unpubd

Music for recitation

Trånaden [Longing] (E.J. Stagnelius), acc. pf, 1887, unpubd

O, om du sett [Oh, if you had seen] (E. Hackzell), acc. pf, 1888, unpubd

Svartsjukans nätter [Nights of Jealousy] (J.L. Runeberg), acc. vn, va, vc, pf, 1888, unpubd; partly arr., op.5 nos.5–6, pf


Skogsrået [The Wood Nymph] (V. Rydberg), acc. pf, 2 hn, str, 1895, unpubd; recomposed, orch, 1895, final section arr. as Ur Skogsrået, pf, 1895

Grevinnans konterfej [The Countess's Portrait] (tableau music, Z. Topelius), acc. str, 1906

Ett ensamt skidspår [The Lonely Ski Trail] (B. Gripenberg), acc. pf, 1925; arr. hp, str, 1948, orchd 1948

Chamber and solo instrumental

Early works: Vattendroppar [Water Drops], vn, vc, ?c1881; Minuet, F, 2 vn, pf, 1883; Trio, a-G-C etc., 1883; Andantino, C, vc, pf, 1884; Sonata, a, vn, pf, 1884; Qt, d, 2 vn, vc, pf, 1884; Trio, a, vn, vc, pf, ?1884; Str Qt, E♭, 1885; Trio, a, vn, vc, pf, 1886; Andante cantabile, G, vn, pf, 1887; Andante molto, f, vc, pf, 1887; Qt, g, vn, vc, hmn, pf, 1887; Theme and Variations, d, vc, 1887; Trio ‘Korpo’, D, vn, vc, pf, 1887; Suite, d, vn, pf, 1887–8; Suite, E, vn, pf, 1888; Theme and Variations, g, str qt, 1888; Theme and Variations, c♯, str qt, 1888 [frag.]; Trio ‘Loviisa’, C, vn, vc, pf, 1888


Two Pieces, vn, pf, 1888, rev. 1911: Romance, Perpetuum mobile

Allegro, brass septet, 1889

Andantino, A, vn, va, vc, 1889, unpubd

Canon, vn, vc, 1889

Fantasia, vc, pf, ?1889 [frag.]

Fugue for Martin Wegelius, a, str qt, 1889

Overture, f, brass septet, 1889

Sonata, F, vn, pf, 1889

String Quartet, a, 1889

Suite (Trio), A, vn, va, vc, 1889, rev. 1912

Tempo di valse (Lulu Waltz), vc, pf, 1889


String Quartet, B♭, 1890, mvt 3 arr. str orch as Scherzo

Adagio, d, str qt, 1890

Piano Quintet, g, 1890

Prelude, brass septet, 1891

Quartet, c, 2 vn, vc, pf, 1891, unpubd

Andantino and Menuet, brass septet, 1891–2

Duo, C, vn, va, 1891–2

Rondo, va, pf, 1893, unpubd

Trio, g, vn, va, vc, 1893–4

Dolcissimo and Moderato, kantele, 1896–8, unpubd

Tiera, brass septet, perc, ?1899

Valse, vn, kantele, 1899


Malinconia, vc, pf, 1900


String Quartet ‘Voces intimae’, d, 1909


Four Pieces, vn/vc, pf: Impromptu, 1915; Romance, 1915; Religioso, 1917; Rigaudon, 1915


Six Pieces, vn, pf: Souvenir, 1915; Tempo di menuetto, 1915; Danse caractéristique, 1916; Sérénade, 1916; Tanz-Idylle, 1917; Berceuse, 1917


Sonatina, E, vn, pf, 1915


Five Pieces, vn, pf: Mazurka, 1915; Rondino, 1917; Valse, 1917; Aubade, 1918; Menuetto, 1918

Andante festivo, str qt, 1922; arr. str, timp ad lib, 1938


Novelette, vn, pf, 1922


Cinq danses champêtres, vn, pf, 1924


Two Pieces, org: Intrada, 1925, Surusoitto [Funeral Music], 1931

Preludium and Postludium, org, 1925–6, unpubd


Four Pieces, vn, pf, 1929: Auf der Heide [On the Heath], Ballade, Humoresque, The Bells


Three Pieces, vn, pf, 1929: Scène de danse, Danse caractéristique, Rondeau romantique

For chamber arrangements of other pieces, see stage, op.71, and orchestral, op.77


Unpubd early works: Au crépuscule, 1887; Florestan, suite, 1889; A Betsy Lerche, 1889


Six Impromptus, 1893, nos.5–6 arr. str. 1894


Sonata, F, 1893


Ten Pieces: Impromptu, 1895; Romance, A, 1895; Caprice, 1898; Romance, d, ?1896; Valse, ?1898; Idyll, 1898; Andantino, 1899; Nocturno, 1900; Romance, D♭, 1901; Barcarola, 1903

Kavaljeren [The Cavalier], 1900


Finlandia, 1900 [arr. of orch work]

Six Finnish Folksongs, arr. 1902–3


[10] Little Pieces: Valse, 1914; Air de danse, 1914; Mazurka, 1914; Couplet, 1914; Boutade, 1914; Rêverie, 1913; Danse pastorale, 1916; Joueur de harpe, 1916; Reconnaissance, 1916; Souvenir, 1916


[10] Pensées lyriques: Valsette, 1912; Chanson sans paroles, 1913; Humoresque, 1913; Menuetto, 1913; Berceuse, 1913; Pensée mélodique, 1914; Rondoletto, 1914; Scherzando, 1915; Petite sérénade, 1915; Polonaise, 1916


Kyllikki, 3 nos., 1904


Dance Intermezzo, 1904 [from Musik zu einer Szene, 1904]


Ten Pieces, 1909: Rêverie, Scherzino, Air varié, Der Hirt, Des Abends, Dialogue, Tempo di minuetto, Fischerlied, Ständchen, Sommerlied


Kellosävel Kallion Kirkossa [The Bells of Kallio Church], 1912 [arr. of unacc. choral work]


Three Sonatinas, 1912


Two Rondinos, 1912

Spagnuolo, 1913

Till trånaden [To Longing], 1913


Four Lyric Pieces, 1914: Ekloge, Sanfter Westwind, Auf dem Tanzvergnügen, Im alten Heim


Cinq morceaux: När rönnen blommar [When the Rowan Blossoms], 1914; Den ensamma furan [The Lonely Fir], 1914; Aspen [The Aspen] 1914; Björken [The Birch Tree], 1914; Granen [The Spruce], 1914, rev. 1919


Thirteen Pieces: Esquisse, 1917; Etude, 1911; Carillon, 1914; Humoresque, 1916; Consolation, 1919; Romanzetta, 1914; Affettuoso, 1917; Pièce enfantine, 1916; Arabesque, 1914; Elegiaco, 1916; Linnaea, 1918; Capriccietto, 1914; Harlequinade, 1916


Five Pieces: Bellis, 1917; Oeillet, 1916; Iris, 1916; Aquileja, 1917; Campanula, 1917

Mandolinato, 1917


Six Pieces: Danse, 1919; Nouvelette, 1914; Sonnet, 1919; Berger et bergerette, 1919; Mélodie, 1919; Gavotte, 1919

Till O. Parviainen [To O. Parviainen], 1919, unpubd


Valse lyrique, 1919, orchd 1920

Con passione, 1919–20, unpubd


Valse chevaleresque, 1921, orchd 1921


Six Bagatelles, 1920: Humoresque I, Song, Little Waltz, Humorous March, Impromptu, Humoresque II


Suite mignonne, 1921 [arr. of orch work]


Suite champêtre, 1923 [arr. of orch work]


Eight Pieces, 1922: Pièce humoristique, Esquisse, Souvenir, Impromptu, Couplet, Animoso, Moment de valse, Petite marche


Suite caractéristique, 1922 [arr. of orch work]


Five Romantic Pieces, 1924: Romance, Chant du soir, Scène lyrique, Humoresque, Scène romantique


Five Characteristic Impressions, 1924: The Village Church, The Fiddler, The Oarsman, The Storm, In Mournful Mood

Morceau romantique, 1925 [arr. of orch work]


Five Esquisses, 1929: Landscape, Winter Scene, Forest Lake, Song in the Forest, Spring Vision

For piano arrangements of other pieces see stage [music to historical tableaux, 1893; Kuolema, 1903; opp.27, 46, 51, 71, 83, 109], orchestral [opp.44/1, 45/1, 53a, 96b] and solo vocal (Music for recitation) [Skogsrået, op.15]

MSS in D-Frl; FIN-A, Hy

Principal publishers: Breitkopf & Härtel, Fazer, Hansen, Hirsch, Lienau, Warner-Chappell, Westerlund


A: Bibliographies
  • N.-E. Ringbom: ‘Litteraturen om Jean Sibelius’, STMf, 24 (1942), 122–5
  • F. Blum: Jean Sibelius: an International Bibliography on the Occasion of the Centennial Celebrations, 1965 (Detroit, 1965)
  • M. Suhonen: ‘Catalogue of Sibelius Monographs: 1906–1989’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.85–91
  • G.D. Goss: Jean Sibelius: a Guide to Research (New York, 1998)
B: Catalogues
  • L. Solanterä: The Works of Jean Sibelius (Helsinki, 1955)
  • E. Tanzberger: Jean Sibelius: Werkverzeichnis (Wiesbaden, 1962)
  • F. Hirsch: ‘Das Werk Jean Sibelius' im Leipziger Musikverlag Breitkopf & Härtel’, MG, 15 (1965), 818–20
  • F. Dahlström: The Works of Sibelius (Helsinki, 1987)
  • G.D. Goss: ‘Chronology of the Works of Jean Sibelius’, The Sibelius Companion, ed. G.D. Goss (Westport, CT, 1996), 323–91
  • F. Dahlström: Jean Sibelius: Thematisch-Bibliographisches Verzeichnis seiner Werke (Wiesbaden, forthcoming)
C: Archival collections
  • E. Mäkelä-Henriksson: ‘Die Bibliothek von Jean Sibelius in seinem Haus Ainola’, Bibliophilie und Buchgeschichte in Finnland: aus Anlass des 500. Jubiläums des Missale Aboense, ed. E. Häkli and F. Krause (Berlin, 1988), 96–101
  • K. Kilpeläinen: ‘The Helsinki University Library Collection of Sibelius Manuscripts’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.72–5
  • K. Kilpeläinen: The Jean Sibelius Musical Manuscripts at Helsinki University Library: a Complete Catalogue (Wiesbaden, 1991)
  • M. Suhonen, H. Poroila and P. Gronow: ‘Music in Finland's Libraries’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1993), no.2, pp.42–9
  • G.S. Terrell: The Harold E. Johnson Jean Sibelius Collection at Butler University (Indianapolis, IN, 1993)
D: Reviews of research
  • G.C. Schoolfield: review of Eng. trans. of E. Tawaststjerna: Sibelius, i, Scandinavian Studies, l (1978), 242–7
  • K. Aho: ‘A Biography Akin to the Life of Its Subject: Erik Tawaststjerna: Jean Sibelius I–V’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.76–92
  • Jean Sibelius Conference I: Helsinki 1990 [incl. F. Dahlström: ‘The Thematic-Bibliographical Catalogue’, 31–5; K. Kilpeläinen: ‘Opus Numbering and Lists of the Works of Jean Sibelius’, 88–97]
  • F. Dahlström: ‘Working toward the Thematic-Bibliographical Catalogue of Jean Sibelius’, FAM, 40 (1993), 41–6
  • F. Dahlström: ‘Sibelius Research’, The Sibelius Companion, ed. G.D. Goss (Westport, CT, 1996), 297–315
E: Manuscript studies and facsimiles
  • Jean Sibelius: Käsikirjoituksia [Manuscripts] (Helsinki, 1945)
  • P. Berglund: A Comparative Study of the Printed Score and the Manuscript of the Seventh Symphony of Sibelius (Turku, 1970)
  • F. Dahlström: ‘Eräs Sibeliuksen ensimmäisen sinfonian käsikirjoitus’ [A certain manuscript of Sibelius's First Symphony], Musiikki, 8 (1978), 61–78
  • N. Josephson: ‘Die Skizzen zu Sibelius' 4. Symphonie (1909–1911)’, Mf, 40 (1987), 38–49
  • P. Berglund: Preface to J. Sibelius: Symphony no.5, ed. P. Berglund (Copenhagen, 1974)
  • K. Kilpeläinen: Tutkielmia Jean Sibeliuksen käsikirjoituksista [Studies on the manuscripts of Sibelius] (Helsinki, 1991)
  • K. Kilpeläinen: ‘Sibelius's Seventh Symphony: an Introduction to the Manuscript and Printed Sources’, The Sibelius Companion, ed. G.D. Goss (Westport, CT, 1996), 239–70
F: Contemporary accounts and correspondence
  • G. Bantock: ‘Jean Sibelius’, MMR, 65 (1935), 217–19
  • W. Legge: ‘Conversations with Sibelius’, MT, 76 (1935), 218–20
  • B. de Törne: Sibelius: a Close-up (London and Boston, 1937)
  • A. Paul: ‘Mein Freund Sibelius, I–III’, Völkischer Beobachter (27 Jan 1938); (28 Jan 1938); (29 Jan 1938)
  • R. Newmarch: Jean Sibelius: a Short Story of a Long Friendship (Boston, 1939)
  • S. Levas: Jean Sibelius ja hänen Ainolansa [Sibelius and his Ainola] (Helsinki, 1945, 2/1955)
  • M. Similä: Sibeliana (Helsinki, 1945)
  • S. Levas: Jean Sibelius: muistelmia suuresta ihmisestä [Jean Sibelius: memories of a great man] (Helsinki, 1957–60; Eng. trans, abridged, as Sibelius: a Personal Portrait (London, 1972)
  • C. Stoeckel: ‘Some Recollections of the Visit of Jean Sibelius to America in 1914’, Scandinavian Studies, 43 (1971), 53–88 [published posthumously, with editorial annotations by G.C. Schoolfield]
  • J. Jalas: ‘Sibelius: “Minulla ei koskaan ole ikävä, minulla on fantasiani”’ [Sibelius: ‘I am never bored, I have my fantasies’], Elämäni teemat, ed. O. Lehmuksela (Helsinki, 1981), esp. 53–75
  • A. Karttunen, ed.: ‘A Certain Kind of Look, all Blue’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1985), nos.3–4, pp.70–73
  • L. Madetoja: ‘Jean Sibelius ja hänen musiikkinsa’ [Sibelius and his music], Musiikki, 17 (1987), 68–101 [incl. description of Sibelius as a teacher]
  • J. Amis: ‘Sibelius via Legge’, Gramophone, 67 (1989–90), 152 only
  • A. Karttunen: ‘Sibelius Lived Next Door…’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1995), no.4, pp.24–9
  • G.D. Goss: Jean Sibelius: the Hämeenlinna Letters: Scenes from a Musical Life 1874–1895 (Espoo, 1997)
G: General studies
  • Grove6 (R. Layton)
  • K. Flodin: Finska musiker och andra uppsatser i musik (Helsinki, 1900)
  • E. Furuhjelm: Jean Sibelius: hans tondiktning och drag ur hans liv [Sibelius: his musical compositions and features of his life] (Borgå, 1916)
  • C.G. Nyblom: Jean Sibelius (Stockholm, 1916)
  • W. Niemann: Jean Sibelius (Leipzig, 1917)
  • C. Gray: Sibelius (London, 1931, 2/1934)
  • K. Ekman: Jean Sibelius: en konstnärs liv och personlighet [Sibelius: an artist’s life and personality] (Stockholm, 1935, enlarged 4/1956); Eng. trans. E. Birse as Jean Sibelius: His Life and Personality (London, 1936/R) [incl. foreword by E. Newman]
  • I. Hannikainen: Sibelius and the Development of Finnish Music (London, 1948)
  • N.-E. Ringbom: Sibelius (Helsinki, 1948) [in Swed.]; Eng. trans., Jean Sibelius: a Master and his Work (Norman, OK, 1954)
  • V. Helasvuo: Sibelius and the Music of Finland (Helsinki, 1952, 3/1961)
  • O. Andersson: Jean Sibelius i Amerika (Turku, 1955)
  • H.E. Johnson: Jean Sibelius (New York, 1959)
  • T. Karila, ed.: Composers of Finland (Helsinki, 1965)
  • R. Layton: Sibelius (London, 1965, 4/1993)
  • M. Vignal: Jean Sibelius: l'homme et son oeuvre (Paris, 1965)
  • E. Tawaststjerna: Jean Sibelius (Helsinki, 1965–88) [in Finnish]; Swed. orig. (Helsinki, 1991–7); Eng. trans. by R. Layton, abridged, as Sibelius (London, 1976–97) [for comments on Eng. edn see Goss (A1998), 71–3]
  • H. Ottaway: Sibelius (London, 1968)
  • J. Tolonen: ‘Jean Sibeliuksen koelunto ja molli-pentakordin soinnutus’ [Sibelius's examination-lecture and the harmonization of the minor pentachord], Juhlakirja Erik Tawaststjernalle, ed. E. Salmenhaara (Helsinki, 1976), 79–92 [60th birthday]
  • J. Sibelius: ‘Några synpunkter beträffande folkmusiken och dess inflytande på tonkonsten’ [Some perspectives on folk music and its influence on the art of music], Musiikki, 10 (1980), 86–105 [text of 1896 lecture]
  • I. Oramo: ‘Vom Einfluss der Volksmusik auf die Kunstmusik: ein unbekannter Aufsatz von Sibelius aus dem Jahre 1896’, GfMKB: Bayreuth 1981, 440–44
  • H.-I. Lampila: Sibelius (Jyväskylä, 1984)
  • E. Salmenhaara: Jean Sibelius (Helsinki, 1984)
  • F. Tammaro: Jean Sibelius (Turin, 1984)
  • E. Brüll: Jean Sibelius (Leipzig, 1986)
  • E. Tawaststjerna: ‘The Two Leskovites’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1986), no.3, pp.2–9
  • E. Tarasti: ‘On the Roots of Finnish Music: is Sibelius the Godfather?’, Scandinavian Review, 75 (1987), 91–7
  • L. de Gorog: From Sibelius to Sallinen: Finnish Nationalism and the Music of Finland (Westport, CT, 1989)
  • A. Karttunen: ‘Roots: Sibelius, Finland, and the Town of Hämeenlinna’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.6–9
  • C. Malet, ed.: Papers from the ‘Colloque international Jean Sibelius’, Boréales, nos.54–7 (1993), 17–136
  • F. Dahlström: ‘The Popular Concerts of Sibelius and Kajanus in the 1890s’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1995), no.1, pp.11–15
  • P. Helistö: ‘Gustav Mahler's Helsinki Concert, October–November 1907’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1995), no.4, pp.17–21
  • E. Tarasti, ed.: Jean Sibelius Conference I: Helsinki 1990 (Helsinki, 1995) [incl. A. Beaumont: ‘Sibelius and Busoni’, 14–20; M.H. Brown: ‘Perspectives on the Early Symphonies: the Russian Connection Redux’, 21–30]
  • F. Dahlström and E. Salmenhaara: Suomen musiikin historia [History of Finnish music], 1–3 (Helsinki, 1995–6)
  • G.D. Goss, ed.: The Sibelius Companion (Westport, CT, 1996) [incl. W.A. Wilson: ‘Sibelius, the Kalevala, and Karelianism’, 43–60]
  • F. Dahlström: ‘Sibelius: his Era and his Music’, Journal of Finnish Studies [Toronto], 1 (1997), 34–46
  • T. Jackson and V. Murtomäki, eds.: Sibelius Studies (Cambridge, forthcoming)
H: Iconographies
  • B. Sandberg, ed.: Jean Sibelius (Helsinki, 1940)
  • M. Jalas: Jean Sibelius (Helsinki, 1952/R)
  • I. Oramo: Jean Sibelius: Kuvaelämäkerta [Sibelius: a pictorial biography] (Helsinki, 1965); illustrations repr. in R. Layton: Sibelius and his World (London and New York, 1970)
  • E. Salmenhaara: Sibeliuksen Ainola: Sibelius and Ainola (Helsinki, 1976)
  • D. Burnett-James: Sibelius: the Illustrated Lives of the Great Composers (London, 1989)
  • E. Örlund, ed.: Sibeliuksen Hämeenlinna – Sibelius och hans Tavastehus – Sibelius and his Home Town (Hämeenlinna, 1990)
I: Critical studies
  • K. Flodin: ‘Jean Sibelius’, Norden (1902), 123–30
  • K. Flodin: ‘Die Erweckung des nationalen Tones in der finnischen Musik’, Die Musik, 3 (1903–4), 287–9
  • W. Niemann: ‘Jean Sibelius und die finnische Musik’, Signale für die musikalische Welt, 62 (1904), 185–91
  • R. Newmarch: Jean Sibelius: a Finnish Composer (Leipzig, 1906)
  • W. Niemann: Die Musik Skandinaviens (Leipzig, 1906)
  • W. Niemann: ‘Jean Sibelius und die finnische Musik’, Die Musik, 13 (1913–14), 195–206
  • G. Hauch: Jean Sibelius (Copenhagen, 1915)
  • J.H. Elliot: ‘Jean Sibelius: a Modern Enigma’, The Chesterian, 12 (1930–31), 93–100
  • K. Flodin: Musikliv och reseminnen [Music life and travel memories] (Helsinki, 1931)
  • C. Lambert: Music Ho! a Study of Music in Decline (London, 1934)
  • W. Legge: ‘Sibelius's Position Today’, Monthly Musical Record, 65 (1935), 224–6
  • T.W. Adorno: ‘Glosse über Sibelius’, Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, 7 (1938), 460–63; repr. in Musikalische Schriften, iv (Frankfurt, 1982), 247–52
  • N. Cardus: ‘Sibelius’, Ten Composers (London, 1945; 2/1959 as Composers Eleven), 153–66
  • V. Thomson: The Musical Scene (New York, 1945)
  • R. Leibowitz: Sibelius, le plus mauvais compositeur du monde (Liège, 1955) [see also I. Oramo, Boréales, nos.54–7 (1993), 51–8]
  • E. Newman: ‘Sibelius no.4: its English History’, Essays from the World of Music: Essays from ‘The Sunday Times’ (London, 1956), 127–32
  • E. Newman: More Essays from the World of Music: Essays from ‘The Sunday Times’ (London, 1958/R)
  • E. Tawaststjerna: ‘Über Adornos Sibeliuskritik’, Studien zur Wertungsforschung, 12 (1979), 112–24
  • J. Kokkonen: ‘The National and International Sibelius’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.14–17
  • H.-C. Fantapié: ‘Jean Sibelius et la France, au miroir des écrits musicographiques, 1900–1965’, Boréales, nos.54–7 (1993), 59–82; nos.58–61 (1994), 215–19
  • M. Huttunen: ‘Kaksi Sibeliusta: Sibelius-reseptio suomalaisessa musiikinhistoriankirjoituksessa’ [Two Sibeliuses: Sibelius reception in the writings of Finnish music historians], Praxis (1995), 84–97
  • G.D. Goss: Jean Sibelius and Olin Downes: Music, Friendship, Criticism (Boston, 1995)
  • G.D. Goss: ‘“Sibelius's Apostle”, Olin Downes’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1995), no.4, pp.36–9
  • L. Gray: ‘Sibelius and England’, The Sibelius Companion, ed. G.D. Goss (Westport, CT, 1996), 281–95
  • P. Revers: ‘Jean Sibelius and Vienna’, The Sibelius Companion, ed. G.D. Goss (Westport, CT, 1996), 13–34
  • L. Gray: ‘The Symphonic Problem’: Sibelius Reception in England prior to 1950 (diss., Yale U., 1997)
J: Analytical studies
    • A. Väisänen: ‘Sibelius ja kansanmusiiki’ [Sibelius and folk music], Kalevalaseuran vuosikirja, 16 (1936), 276–88
    • D. Cherniavsky: ‘The Use of Germ Motives by Sibelius’, ML, 23 (1942), 1–9
    • G. Abraham, ed.: Sibelius: a Symposium (London, 1947); pubd in USA as The Music of Sibelius (New York, 1947)
    • A. Väisänen: ‘Poimintoja Sibeliuksen tematiikasta kansanmusiikkia silmällä pitäen’ [Excerpts from Sibelius's themes with reference to folk music], Kalevalaseuran vuosikirja, 36 (1956), 286–98
    • H. Truscott: ‘A Sibelian Fallacy’, The Chesterian, 32 (1957–8), 34–43
    • M.S. Collins: ‘Germ Motives and Guff’, MR, 23 (1962), 238–43
    • E. Tanzberger: Jean Sibelius: eine Monographie, mit einem Werkverzeichnis (Wiesbaden, 1962)
    • B. James: The Music of Jean Sibelius (Rutherford, NJ, 1983)
    • E. Tawaststjerna: ‘Der junge Sibelius: von der Dur-Moll-Tonalität zu einer Synthese von modalen und dur-moll tonalen Elementen’, Das musikalische Kunstwerk: Festschrift Carl Dahlhaus, ed. H. Danuser and others (Laaber, 1988), 639–50
    • E. Tarasti: ‘Sibelius and Wagner’, The Sibelius Companion, ed. G.D. Goss (Westport, CT, 1996), 61–75
    • C. Gray: Sibelius: the Symphonies (London, 1935)
    • D.F. Tovey: ‘Sibelius’, Essays in Musical Analysis, 2 (London 1935), 121–9 [discussion of symphonies 3 and 5]
    • E. Roiha: Die Symphonien von Jean Sibelius: eine formanalytische Studie (Jyväskylä, 1941)
    • I. Krohn: Der Formenbau in den Symphonien von Jean Sibelius (Helsinki, 1942)
    • R. Wood: ‘Sibelius's Use of Percussion’, ML, 23 (1942), 10–23
    • E. Tanzberger: Die sinfonischen Dichtungen von Jean Sibelius: eine inhalts- und formanalytische Studie (Würzburg, 1943)
    • I. Krohn: Der Stimmungsgehalt der Symphonien von Jean Sibelius (Helsinki, 1945–6)
    • S. Parmet: Sibelius symfonier: en studie i musikförståelse (Helsinki, 1955); Eng. trans. as The Symphonies of Sibelius: a Study in Musical Appreciation (London, 1959)
    • O. Andersson: Jean Sibelius och Svenska teatern (Turku, 1956)
    • U. Dibelius: ‘Form und Impression: “Die Okeaniden” von Jean Sibelius’, NZM, Jg.117 (1956), 689–91
    • O. Downes: Sibelius the Symphonist (New York, 1956)
    • N.-E. Ringbom: De två versionerna av Sibelius' tondikt ‘En saga’ (Turku 1956); shortened Eng. version, ‘The Two Versions of Sibelius' Tone Poem, En saga’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1987), no.1, pp.2–10
    • J. Rosas: ‘Sibelius’ musik till skådespelet Ödlan’, Suomen musiikin vuosikirja 1960–61, 49–56
    • P.E. Gerschefski: The Thematic, Temporal, and Dynamic Processes in the Symphonies of Jean Sibelius (diss., Florida State U., 1962)
    • E. Salmenhaara: ‘Sibelius: die Entwicklung des Symphonikers’, ÖMz, 20 (1965), 8–13
    • R. Simpson: Sibelius and Nielsen: a Centenary Essay (London, 1965); Sibelius essay rev. in Carl Nielsen, Symphonist (London, 1979)
    • E. Salmenhaara: Tapiola: Sinfoninen runo Tapiola Sibeliuksen myöhäistyylin edustajana [Tapiola: the symphonic poem Tapiola as an example of Sibelius's late style] (Helsinki, 1970) [incl. Eng. summary]
    • M.S. Collins: The Orchestral Music of Sibelius (diss., U. of Leeds, 1973)
    • A.G. Montgomery: An Interpretive Guide to Symphony no.3 by Sibelius (DMA diss., Indiana U., 1976)
    • J. Rosas: ‘Tondikten Aallottaret (Okeaniderna) opus 73 av Jean Sibelius’, Juhlakirja Erik Tawaststjernalle, ed. E. Salmenhaara (Keuruu, 1976), 37–78
    • F. Tammaro: ‘Sibelius e il silenzio di Tapiola’, RIM, 12 (1977), 100–129
    • L. Pike: Beethoven, Sibelius, and the ‘Profound Logic’: Studies in Symphonic Analysis (London, 1978)
    • E. Tarasti: Myth and Music: a Semiotic Approach to the Aesthetics of Myth in Music, especially that of Wagner, Sibelius, and Stravinsky (Helsinki, 1978)
    • F. Tammaro: Le sinfonie di Sibelius (Turin, 1982)
    • M. Mäckelmann: ‘Sibelius und die Programmusik: eine Studie zu seinen Tondichtungen und Symphonien’, HJM, 6 (1983), 121–68
    • A. Jordan: Harmonic Style in Selected Sibelius Symphonies (diss., Indiana U., 1984)
    • E. Tawaststjerna: ‘Sibelius's Eighth Symphony: an Insoluble Mystery’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1985), nos.1–2, pp.61–70; nos.3–4, pp.92–101
    • P. Coad: Bruckner and Sibelius (diss., U. of Cambridge, 1985)
    • M. McMullin: ‘Sibelius: an Essay on his Significance’, MR, 46 (1985), 199–211
    • M. Mäckelmann: ‘Jean Sibelius: “Tapiola”, Tondichtung op.112’, NZM, Jg.147, no.5 (1986), 32–6
    • G. Sundberg: Der Begriff Klassizität in den Symphonien von Jean Sibelius (diss., U. of Vienna, 1987)
    • J. Jalas: Kirjoituksia Sibeliuksen sinfonioista: Sinfonian eettinen pakko [Writings of Sibelius's symphonies: the ethical necessity of the symphony] (Helsinki, 1988)
    • J. Jalas: ‘Sibelius's Symphonies and the Golden Section’, Nombre d'or et musique (Frankfurt, 1988) 117–20
    • T.B. Howell: Jean Sibelius: Progressive Techniques in the Symphonies and Tone Poems (New York, 1989)
    • T. Ryynänen: ‘The “Domino Principle” in the Symphonies of Sibelius’, Nordisk musikforskarkongressen/Nordic Musicological Congress: Turku 1988 [Musiikki, 19 (1989)], 208–13
    • Jean Sibelius Conference I: Helsinki 1990 [incl. H.-C. Fantapié: ‘“The Oceanides”: a Question of Tempo’, 41–64; G.D. Goss: ‘Jean Sibelius, Olin Downes, and the Fourth Symphony’, 65–73; T. Howell; ‘Two Versions of the Fifth Symphony: a Study in Compositional Process’, 74–87; T. Mäkelä: ‘The Sibelius Violin Concerto and Its Dramatic Virtuosity: a Comparative Study of Intratextural Interaction’, 118–33; V. Murtomäki: ‘On the Symphonic Thought and Techniques of Sibelius’, 113–17; I. Oramo: ‘The Symphonic Poems: Formal Strategies’, 150–57; P. Revers: ‘Jean Sibelius and Viennese Musical Tradition in the Late Nineteenth Century’, 169–76; E. Tarasti: ‘A Deconstruction of National Meanings in Sibelius's Fourth Symphony’, 177–202; P. Vidal: ‘The Symphonic Poem of Jean Sibelius and the European Tradition of the Form’, 203–07
    • M. Lindgren: ‘“I've Got Some Lovely Themes for a Violin Concert’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos. 3–4, pp.24–31 [on first version of Violin Concerto]
    • V. Murtomäki: ‘On the Symphonic Poems by Sibelius’, ‘On the Nature of Sibelius's Late Style’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.48–9, 50–57
    • R. Fanselau: ‘Jean Sibelius: Pohjolas Tochter op.49’, Programmusik: Analytische Untersuchungen und didaktische Empfehlungen für den Musikunterricht in der Sekundarstufe, ed. A. Goebel (Mainz, 1992), 217–35
    • J. Hepokoski: Sibelius: Symphony no.5 (Cambridge, 1993)
    • V. Murtomäki: Symphonic Unity: the Development of Formal Thinking in the Symphonies of Sibelius (Helsinki, 1993)
    • E. Salmenhaara: ‘Jean Sibelius and The Tempest’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1993), no.4, pp.35–41
    • J. Schwarz: Die Lemminkäinen-Suite op.22 von Jean Sibelius (thesis, Heidelberg U., 1995)
    • K. Kilpeläinen: ‘Sibelius Eight: what Happened to It?’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1995), no.4, pp.30–35
    • E. Kurki: ‘Sibelius and the Theatre at the Turn of the Century’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1995), no.4, pp.9–16
    • L. Luyken: ‘…aus dem Nichtigen eine Welt schaffen…’: Studien zur Dramaturgie im symphonischen Spätwerk von Jean Sibelius (Kassel, 1995)
    • D. Haas: ‘Sibelius's Second Symphony and the Legacy of Symphonic Lyricism’, The Sibelius Companion, ed. G.D. Goss (Westport, CT, 1996), 77–94
    • J. Hepokoski: ‘The Essence of Sibelius: Creation Myths and Rotational Cycles in Luonnotar’, The Sibelius Companion, ed. G.D. Goss (Westport, CT, 1996), 121–46
    • V. Murtomäki: ‘“Symphonic Fantasy”: a Synthesis of Symphonic Thinking in Sibelius's Seventh Symphony and Tapiola’, The Sibelius Companion, ed. G.D. Goss (Westport, CT, 1996), 147–63
    • E. Salmenhaara: ‘The Violin Concerto’, The Sibelius Companion, ed. G.D. Goss (Westport, CT, 1996), 103–19
    • J. Hepokoski: ‘Sibelius’, The Nineteenth-Century Symphony, ed. D. Kern Holoman (New York, 1997), 417–49
    • J. Rosas: Otryckta kammarmusikverk av Jean Sibelius [Unpublished chamber music by Sibelius] (Turku, 1961)
    • F. Dahlström: ‘The Early Chamber Music of Sibelius: some Remarks on its Reception History’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.18–23
    • F. Krummacher: ‘Voces intimae: das Streichquartett op.56 und die Gattungstradition’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.36–43; rev. in Musica, xlv (1991), 360–67
    • K. Kilpeläinen: ‘Life before Kullervo?: the Early Works of Jean Sibelius’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1995), no.4, pp.2–8
    • K. Kilpeläinen: ‘Onko “Fuuga Martin Wegeliukselle” fuuga Martin Wegeliukselle?’ [Is the ‘Fugue for Martin Wegelius’ a fugue for Martin Wegelius?], Musiikkitiede, 3 (1991), 128–34
    • A. Forslin: Runeberg i musiken (Åbo, 1958)
    • R. Keane: ‘“Höstkväll”: Two Versions?’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.62–5
    • R. Keane: ‘Sibelius' Orchestral Songs’, Nordic Sounds (1990), no.4, pp.3–5
    • C. Clifford: Jean Sibelius: the Influence of Nature and Nationalism on the Songs of Opus 36 and Opus 37 (diss., Florida State U., 1993)
    • R. Keane: The Complete Solo Songs of Jean Sibelius (diss., U. of London, 1993)
    • E. Tawaststjerna: Sibeliuksen pianosävellykset ja muita esseitä (Helsinki, 1955); Swed. orig. as Ton och tolkning: Sibelius-studier (Helsinki, 1957); partial Eng. trans. as The Pianoforte Compositions of Sibelius (Helsinki, 1957)
    • E. Tawaststjerna: Sibeliuksen pianoteokset säveltäjän kehityslinjan kuvastajana [Sibelius's piano works as a reflection of the composer's development] (Helsinki, 1960)
    • G. Gould: ‘Sibelius and the Post-Romantic Piano Style’, Piano Quarterly, no.25 (1977), 22–7
    • E.T. Tawaststjerna: ‘The Piano Music of Sibelius’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.66–71
K: Discographies and studies of recordings
  • H.E. Johnson: Jean Sibelius: the Recorded Music – Musiikkia äänilevyillä – Grammofoninspelningar (Helsinki, 1957)
  • R. Layton: ‘Sibelius and the Gramophone’, Suomen musiikin vuosikirja 1964–65 (Helsinki, 1965), 46–51
  • ‘Jean Sibeliuksen sinfonialevytykset’ [Recordings of Sibelius's symphonies], Rondo (1965), no.6, pp.16–17
  • A. Karttunen: ‘Tempokäsitysten muutoksista Jean Sibeliuksen sinfonioiden äänilevyesityksissä’ [Concerning tempo changes in recordings of Sibelius's symphonies], Juhlakirja Erik Tawaststjernalle, ed. E. Salmenhaara (Helsinki, 1976), 93–100
  • D. Pickett: ‘Sibelius with a Foreign Accent: Problems for the non-Finnish Conductor in the Interpretation of the Symphonies, with Specific Reference to the Third Symphony’, Jean Sibelius Conference I: Helsinki 1990, 158–68
  • G. Thomas: The Symphonies of Jean Sibelius: a Discography and Discussion (Bloomington,1990)
  • M. Haapakoski: ‘The Concerto that Holds a Record: the Sibelius Violin Concerto on Disc’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.32–5
  • R. Layton: ‘Sibelius, Germany, and Karajan’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1994), no.4, pp.22–6
  • A. Karttunen: ‘True and False: Andante Festivo’ [Sibelius as conductor: mistaken attribution of a 1939 recording], Finnish Music Quarterly (1995), no.4, pp.57–8
  • M. Haapakoski: ‘The Sibelius Concerto still Holds a Record: Discography of the Recordings Released in the 1990s’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1996), no.4, pp.14–16
L: Performance issues
  • D. Cherniavsky: ‘Sibelius's Tempo Corrections’, ML, 31 (1950), 53–5
  • E. Kujawsky: Double-Perspective Movements: Formal Ambiguity and Conducting Issues in Orchestral Works by Schoenberg, Sibelius, and Carter (diss., Stanford U., 1985)
  • K. Borg: ‘How to Sing them: some Thoughts on the Interpretation of Sibelius’ Songs’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.58–61
  • A. Pennanen: ‘The Fourth Symphony: a State of Mind’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1990), nos.3–4, pp.44–7 [interviews with conductors Salonen, Saraste and Segerstam]
  • ‘Tempo Markings in Sibelius' Tapiola’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1991), no.3, pp.20–21 [facs. of letter (c1934) from Sibelius to Rodzinski]
  • T. Mann: Symfonier 1–8: Partituranalyser, ed. S. Naumann (Stockholm, 1994)
  • M. Haapakoski: ‘Georg Schnéevoigt, Champion of Sibelius: Finland's First Wayfaring Maestro’, Finnish Music Quarterly (1995), no.4, pp.40–44
Fontes artis musicae
Music & Letters
Helsinki, Helsingin Yliopiston Kirjasto/Helsinki University Library/Suomen Kansalliskikjasto
Monthly Musical Record
Frankfurt, Musikverlag Robert Lienau
Svensk tidskrift för musikforskning
Die Musikforschung
Music Review
Musical Times
Turku, Åbo Akademi, Sibelius Museum, Bibliotek ja Arkiv
Neue Zeitschrift für Musik
Gesellschaft für Musikforschung: Kongress-Bericht [1950-]
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Rivista italiana di musicologia
Musik und Gesellschaft
Österreichische Musikzeitschrift