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Explore our collection of performances featuring the works of Jean Sibelius, whose richly textured and intricate compositions have significantly molded Finnish cultural identity through music.

About Sibelius

Late Romantic and early-modern period composer Jean Sibelius (1865 - 1957) is one of the foremost Finnish cultural figures of the twentieth century. His influence, marked by his richly textured, mythology-inspired musical creations, continues to the current day. His works often drew inspiration from Finnish tales and nature, and his symphonic poem 'Finlandia' in particular became an emblem of national resistance against Russian oppression. However, the beauty of Sibelius' compositions can and has been apprized far beyond his country's borders.

Born in the picturesque town of Hämeenlinna, Sibelius flaunted an unusual talent for music from a very early age. With his father passing away from typhoid only three years after Sibelius' birth, he grew up in a very female environment. He gravitated towards the sphere of influence of his uncle, Pehr Ferdinand Sibelius, who played the violin. More than a father figure, Uncle Pehr became Sibelius' musical adviser, encouraging the young boy's interest in music, nature, and where they both meet.

Sibelius enrolled in law school in 1885, but quickly traded it for the Helsinki Music Institute, having also studied music in Berlin and Vienna - two destinations that awakened in him new and bright ideas. He was particularly enamored with the music of Bruckner, who he once called 'the greatest living composer'.

Jean Sibelius' big break came in the form of 'Kullervo' in 1892. The choral symphony, based on the tragic hero from the Finnish national epic 'Kalevala', mustered widespread attention and acclaim, cementing him as a star in his country's musical scene. The work features themes that would come to play a prominent role in Sibelius' future compositions; powerful orchestration, incorporation of Finnish folklore, and nationalistic themes.

Nowadays, Sibelius is perhaps best remembered for his emblematical seven symphonies, written over thirty years, crossing over from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. The Second in particular has grown to become a staple in classical repertoire all over the world, thanks to its bigger-than-life nature. Sibelius' tone poem 'Finlandia' also took a life of its own after becoming a symbol of Finnish national identity in troubled historical times.

In September of 1957, Jean Sibelius, then a much-secluded figure, passed away at his Järvenpää home of Ainola. Despite having largely withdrawn from public life at this point in his career, Sibelius' death still marked the end of an era in Finnish classical music. His legacy as one of the great Nordic composers lives on through his noteworthy body of work, as the unique worlds of sound he put to life continue to be seized by orchestras of all kinds.

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