Jean Sibelius

Sibelius, Jean Julius Christian

Jean Julius Christian Sibelius (zhän yōō´lyŏŏs krĬs´tyän sĬbā´lyŏŏs), 1865–1957, Finnish composer. Sibelius was a highly personal, romantic composer, yet at the same time he represents the culmination of nationalism in Finnish music. He studied in Berlin (1889) and with Karl Goldmark in Vienna (1890). Although Sibelius wrote chamber, piano, violin, and choral music, he is best known for his orchestral works. These include tone poems on national subjects, such as En Saga (1892; rev. 1902) and Finlandia (1900); The Swan of Tuonela (1893; from the suite Lemminkainen); Valse triste (1904); a violin concerto (1903); and seven symphonies (1899, 1902, 1907, 1911, 1915, 1923, and 1924). His works express an intense, mystical love of nature, often conveying the brooding melancholy of his country's northern landscape. In his symphonies he adapted traditional form to his individual manner of building upon short motifs. These themes, while always original, have come to be regarded as folk music. In 1897 he was awarded a lifetime grant by the state which permitted him to devote his career to composing.

See biographies by K. Ekman (tr. 1938), E. Arnold (1941), H. Johnson (1959), and G. D. Goss (2009); J. Burnett, The Music of Jean Sibelius (1983); F. Tammaro, Jean Sibelius (1984); R. Layton, Sibelius and His World (1970) and Sibelius (3d ed. 1993); G. Rickards, Jean Sibelius (1997); D. Hurwitz, Sibelius: The Orchestral Works (2007).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Jean Sibelius: Selected full-text books and articles

Jean Sibelius and His World By Daniel M. Grimley Princeton University Press, 2011
On the Path of Jean Sibelius By Goss, Glenda Dawn Scandinavian Review, Vol. 86, No. 1, Spring 1998
The Sibelius Question By Coleman, Alexander New Criterion, Vol. 16, No. 6, February 1998
Sibelius, Bartók, and the "Anxiety of Influence" in Post World War II Finnish Music By Oramo, Ilkka Studia Musicologica, Vol. 47, No. 3/4, September 2006
The Symphony: A Listener's Guide By Michael Steinberg Oxford University Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: "Jean Sibelius" begins on p. 574
Conductors on Composers By John L. Holmes Greenwood Press, 1993
Librarian's tip: "Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)" begins on p. 172
Composers on Composers By John L. Holmes Greenwood Press, 1990
Librarian's tip: "Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)" begins on p. 137
Musical Trends in the 20th Century By Norman Demuth Rockliff Publishing, 1975
Librarian's tip: Chap. Twenty-two "Composers in Isolation: I. Jean Sibelius"
Symphonic Masterpieces By Oilin L. Downes The Dial Press, 1935
Librarian's tip: "Jean Sibelius" begins on p. 270
Listening to Music Creatively By Edwin J. Stringham Prentice-Hall, 1946
Librarian's tip: "Jean Sibelius: A Finnish Tone Poet" begins on p 206
Letters of Composers: An Anthology, 1603-1945 By Gertrude Norman; Miriam Lubell Shrifte; Gertrude Norman; Miriam Shrifte Lubell A.A. Knopf, 1946
Librarian's tip: "Jean Sibelius: Hameenlinna, Finland, 1865" begins on p. 324
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