Jean Sibelius, classical music composer

Jean Sibelius


Jean Sibelius was born on December 8th, 1865 in Hämeenlinna, part of the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland. Born Johan Julius Christian Sibelius, he began using the French form of his name, "Jean," after being inspired by his uncle's business card. Around the age of fifteen, Sibelius began to wholeheartedly give himself to the dream of becoming a virtuoso violinist. Though he acquired an accomplished skill on the instrument, even performing the final two movements of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in Helsinki, he eventually came to the conclusion he had begun his studies too late and gave up on his aspirations of being a virtuoso. Following his graduation from high school in 1885, Sibelius began studying law at the Imperial Alexander University of Finland. However, like several composers before him, Sibelius's interest in music soon led him to abandon his studies. Before the close of the year, he enrolled in the Helsinki music school.

In June 1892, Sibelius married Aino Järnefelt and eleven years later, in 1903, they moved into their home, named Ainola, on the shores of Lake Tuusula. Away from the hectic atmosphere of the Finnish capital, Ainola was the perfect location for Sibelius. He had an intense love of nature and his work was often inspired by the landscapes surrounding his home.

Though he was a prolific composer, Sibelius's output dramatically slackened after 1926. The completion of his Seventh Symphony in 1924 marked the end of his long successful career as a symphonist. There is evidence to suggest that in he attempted an eighth symphony and a London performance of it was even advertised in 1933. However, nothing came of the purported work and Sibelius destroyed all traces of it, feeling that it did not live up to his standards. In all probability, the manuscript of the eighth symphony was one of many that Sibelius burned in the 1940s. Only two other large scale works followed the Seventh Symphony: incidental music for Shakespeare's The Tempest and the tone poem Tapiola both composed in 1926. For the remaining thirty years of his life, he composed nothing accept some Masonic ritual music, though he did maintain an active interest in musical developments and activities.

On September 20th, 1957, at the age of ninety-one, Sibelius died at his home from a brain hemorrhage and was buried in the garden. In 1972, a few years after the death Aino, Sibelius's surviving daughters sold Ainola to the State of Finland and it was opened as a museum in 1974.

Though widely regarded as one of the leading symphonists of the 20th century, critical opinion of Jean Sibelius's music has remained mixed and his popularity has waxed and waned. Overall, he stood in stark contrast to the rapidly-changing European musical scene. His philosophy towards the symphony was directly in opposition to Gustav Mahler, Germany's leading symphonist at the time, and his overall tonal idiom eschewed the changes brought about by the Second Viennese School. This brought Sibelius both the praise and ire of fellow musicians. In English-speaking countries, particularly Great Britain and the United States, Sibelius's music was immensely popular in large part to the efforts of conductors like Eugene Ormandy and Sir Thomas Beecham. Ralph Vaughn Williams and William Walton were particularly influenced by Sibelius's music. Conversely, he was, as is to be expected, greatly criticized as outdated and even incompetent by some of the Modernist. Nevertheless, Sibelius has retained his reputation as one of the last influential composers of the fading Romantic era.

Composer Title Date Action
Jean Sibelius Symphony no. 5 12/02/2013 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius Symphony No. 1 (Allegro) 08/19/2009 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius Concerto op.47 (Mvt. 1, Part II) 12/29/2011 Play
Jean Sibelius Concerto op.47 (Mvt.1, Part 1) 12/29/2011 Play
Jean Sibelius Violin Concerto 03/18/2009 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius Violin Concerto - Adagio di Molto 06/08/2012 Play
Jean Sibelius Violin Concerto - Allegro Moderato 06/08/2012 Play
Jean Sibelius Violin Concerto - Allegro, ma non tanto 06/08/2012 Play
Jean Sibelius The Spruce, Op. 75, No. 5 01/19/2009 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius The Lonely Pine, Op. 75 No. 2 01/23/2010 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius Var det en dröm Op. 37 No. 4 12/13/2011 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius Intermezzo, from the Karelia Suite Op. 11 12/02/2012 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings mote, Op. 37 No. 5 12/13/2011 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius Norden Op. 90 No. 1 12/13/2011 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius Auf der Heide, from Romantic Pieces, Op. 115 05/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius Ballade, from Romantic Pieces, Op. 115 05/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius Die Glocken, from Romantic Pieces, Op. 115 05/19/2011 Play Add to playlist
Jean Sibelius Hjärtats morgon Op. 13 No. 3 12/13/2011 Play Add to playlist