The year 2015 is the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Finland’s famous son, composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). The moment is not to go unnoticed, with his works played more than ever this year in celebration.
In addition to his seven symphonies, prolific Sibelius’ best-known compositions include Finlandia, the Karelia Suite, Valse triste, the Violin Concerto in D minor, Kullervo, The Swan of Tuonela (one of the four movements of theLemminkäinen Suite) and the tone poem Tapiola. Other works include pieces inspired by the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala.
His incidental music to the play Pelleas and Melisande includes the music ‘At the Castle Gate’. For over 50 years this has served as the opening and closing theme to the BBC’s astronomy programme ‘The Sky At Night’, presented over 700 times by the incomparable Sir Patrick Moore. As a result the music is well known throughout the UK though sadly maybe not attributed to Sibelius. Listen to the music here – dramatic !
The Finnish Embassy’s website has a full list of events around both London and the world. They include events at the Finnish Church in Rotherhithe, the Swedish Church in Harcourt Place, **St Mark’s Church, the Barbican, and more.
** Note – the Anglo-Finnish Society with the UK Sibelius Society has arranged a Sibelius concert at St Mark’s Church, Hamilton Terrace, St John’s Wood, NW8 8UT at 4.00pm, Sunday 26th April 2015. In the presence of H.E. the Ambassador of Finland and Mrs Huhtaniemi. Everyone is very welcome.
Laura Mikkola, piano · Tuomas Ylinen, cello
Details of programme and location here.
EinoJuhani Rautavaara, Ludvig van Beethoven, Jean Sibelius, Johannes Brahms.
Sibelius’ world-wide influence on later musical composition is legendary, from Classical to Heavy Metal, now especially popular in Finland. Indeed his great grandson Lauri Porra, heavy metal artist and more, finds Sibelius in all Finnish Heavy Metal.
But most surprisingly there are few physical symbols of Sibelius to be found here in London. Sibelius’ career took him around the world, including London. A blue plaque in classy Gloucester Walk marks his stay there in 1909. The National Portrait Gallery’s archives have some interesting photos. The Museum of the Royal Academy of Music [1 York Gate, Marylebone Road – see on streetview here] has some ‘Sibelius’ interesting artifacts- just search its website on ‘Sibelius’. But nothing more is evident in London – no statue, no bust, no tribute, no portrait. Let’s get the UK Sibelius Society on the case!