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Jean Sibelius

Thursday, September 29, 2016


My Classical Notes

September 17

The Sibelius Concerto

My Classical NotesFinnish-born composer Jean Sibelius died on September 20, 1957 at the age of 91. He had composed symphonies, tone poems, and shorter pieces. For me, the violin concerto represents his ultimate achievement. This work is filled with wonderful melodies, as well as amazing technical demonstrations of the violinist’s capabilities. Sibelius was a violinist himself, and so he composed out of a total familiarity with what the instrument was capable of doing. Brahms also produced a violin masterpiece, but the composer was a pianist, and he required help from his friend, Joseph Joachim, to make certain passages more playable. As I recall, I first heard the Sibelius concerto performed by Russian violinist David Oistrakh many years ago. I was stunned by its beauty. Here is the late violinist David Oistrakh, performing the Sinelius concerto:

Guardian

Today

You're in the band: virtual reality's orchestral future

The Philharmonia’s principal conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen wants you to join his virtual symphony orchestra. He talks VR and the future of concertgoingIt is every orchestral player’s greatest anxiety dream. You are sitting on stage at the Royal Festival Hall as the Philharmonia’s Principal Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen strides up to the podium. He looks you directly in the eye and raises his baton for the first downbeat. It is only then that you realise you have forgotten your instrument, or even how to play one. But this is not a dream – it’s real. Or virtually real. Welcome to Britain’s first fully immersive, 360 degree, non-existent orchestra. Cyber-orchestras seem to be gaining traction at the moment, though the Philharmonia’s project is a very different beast from the BBC’s Virtual Orchestra, which invited the contribution of more than 1,000 amateur musicians to the Last Night of the Proms via their smartphones. Instead, it pitches the viewer into the heart of a top-flight, professional ensemble as it performs the final movement of Sibelius’s fifth symphony. Continue reading...




Guardian

September 27

Sibelius in Liverpool, 1905: 'He is saying things that have never been said in music before'

From the classical archive, 4 December 1905: Sibelius’s first public appearance in England, conducting his symphony no 1, and FinlandiaThe Liverpool Orchestral Society’s Concert of Saturday was another of those refreshingly new experiences that one has learned to expect from this organisation. Sibelius’s First Symphony and his tone-poem Finlandia had been given before by the same Society, under Mr. Granville Bantock, at a concert in March of the present year, but an isolated performance of music so novel as that of Sibelius really gives one very little insight into it. It was good to have the works repeated, while special interest attached to the hearing of them under the bâton of the composer himself. Sibelius had intended to be present at the March concert, but was prevented at the last moment from coming over; this time Mr. Bantock was fortunate enough to secure him.It is the first visit of Sibelius to England, and last Saturday’s was his first public appearance in this country. English knowledge of him rests solely upon the performance of two or three works of his in London, a solitary performance of his Second Symphony by Dr. Richter in Manchester last season, and the two Liverpool concerts. His work is fairly considerable in quantity, and includes two symphonies, some suites and symphonic poems, the first Finnish opera, and a number of songs. He is now working at a third symphony, a new symphonic poem based on a Finnish mythological subject, and a work that should excite exceptional interest both in Finland and abroad, the nature of which, however, he desires should not be made public at present. He is still a young man; he attains his fortieth year on the 8th of the present month. Continue reading...



Jean Sibelius
(1865 – 1957)

Jean Sibelius (8 December 1865 - 20 September 1957) was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period whose music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. His mastery of the orchestra has been described as "prodigious". The core of Sibelius's oeuvre is his set of seven symphonies. Like Beethoven, Sibelius used each successive work to further develop his own personal compositional style. His works continue to be performed frequently in the concert hall and are often recorded. In addition to the symphonies, Sibelius's best-known compositions include Finlandia, the Karelia Suite, Valse triste, the Violin Concerto in D minor and The Swan of Tuonela (one of the four movements of the Lemminkäinen Suite). Other works include pieces inspired by the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala; over 100 songs for voice and piano; incidental music for 13 plays; the opera Jungfrun i tornet (The Maiden in the Tower); chamber music; piano music; Masonic ritual music; and 21 separate publications of choral music. Sibelius composed prolifically until the mid-1920s. However, after completing his Seventh Symphony (1924), the incidental music to The Tempest (1926), and the tone poem Tapiola (1926), he produced no large scale works for the remaining thirty years of his life.



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