Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sibelius : Tervedys !

Hail, Sibelius!

The 20th of September is the 54th anniversary of Sibelius' death. I was 2½.

No, there is no connection, strained or otherwise, but then, I didn't know Bach from Beethoven either.

Since introduced to his music in the spring of 1974, I've come easily to the opinion there has been no more fabulous composer—in every sense of the term. Jean Sibelius was the most lyrically musical mind the world has ever known. His symphonishe Dichtungen or tone poems are magical, his symphonies superb and unpredictable.

Dark and brooding, nevertheless from his music escape faeric themes that enchant against a contrasting even lugubrious background. Suffused with northern light of waning, cold days, majestic vistas, and stern heroes, it alternates from hypnotic to bewitching.

I've often said in jest that Sibelius is often so ponderous and depressing at times that, by contrast, it makes me feel in a lighter mood. But only in jest.

As a treat, the Public Radio Exchange recently included him in a program series,
13 Days When Music Changed Forever
, revolutionary moments when music was fundamentally transformed, hosted by musician and composer Suzanne Vega.

Sibelius is rightfully included. Sibelius is the pinnacle of musical Romanticism, the last word before the descent into dissonant Modernism. Which makes him very relevant today.

If you don't know this composer, the PRX broadcast is a fair introduction, but don't stop there. Take the plunge. I particularly suggest the easy introductions, to wit, the Second and Fifth symphonies, and the tone poems, Finlandia, Pohjola's Daughter, Tapiola, En Saga, the Swan of Tuonela and the Valse Triste. If you like organ, the Surusoitto is considered the echo of his never published and probably destroyed Eighth Symphony. There is much more including the magnificent Violin Concerto in D.