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Crisis

Donald Macleod explains how Sibelius became caught up in the Finnish national fervour of the early years of the 20th century.

Donald Macleod explores how the early years of the 20th century saw Finnish national fervour reach fever pitch - with Sibelius caught in the maelstrom.

150 years after he was born, Jean Sibelius remains the most famous and important artistic figure in Finland's history, and indeed, their most famous celebrity in any field. His music helped rouse the Finnish people and galvanise their struggle for independence - and yet, the long life of this proud Finn (he lived to the age of 91) is a mass of contradictions. At home, Sibelius spoke Swedish, the language of his childhood, and it's often forgotten he was a Russian citizen until he was 52. This week, in conversation with the Sibelius scholar Glenda Goss, Donald Macleod explores the key musical works by Sibelius that helped articulate the idea and essence of Finnish identity.

Today's episode pairs one of Sibelius's most hummed, and possibly most frivolous, works with a trio of politically-charged pieces written around the turn of the 20th century, when Finnish national fervour was reaching fever pitch. We also hear from his breakthrough First Symphony, a work which was to propel the thirtysomething composer into the concert halls of Europe.

Valse Triste
BBC Proms Orchestra
Sir Charles Mackerras, conductor

Song of the Athenians, Op.31 no.2
Lahti Boys' Choir
YL Male Voice Choir
Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor

Press Celebrations Music: Väinämöinen Delights Nature, and The Peoples of Kaleva and Pohjola, with His Song; The Finns In The Thirty Years War
Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor

Symphony No.1: III. Scherzo; IV. Finale
Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor

Tulen Synty [The Origin of Fire]
Laulun Ystavat Male Choir
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Järvi, conductor

Have You Courage?, Op.31 no.3
YL Male Voice Choir
Lahti Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor

First broadcast in December 2015 as part of BBC Radio 3's "Northern Lights" season.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Jean Sibelius

    Valse Triste

    Performer: BBC Proms Orchestra. Conductor: Charles Mackerras.
    • DECCA 4788589.
    • DECCA.
    • 11.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Valse Triste

    Performer: BBC Proms Orchestra. Conductor: Charles Mackerras.
    • DECCA 4788589.
    • DECCA.
    • 11.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Har du mod?

    Orchestra: Lahti S O. Conductor: Osmo Vänskä. Choir: Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat.
    • BIS : cd-1115.
    • BIS.
    • 12.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Har du mod?

    Orchestra: Lahti S O. Conductor: Osmo Vänskä. Choir: Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat.
    • BIS : cd-1115.
    • BIS.
    • 12.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Symphony no.1: III. Scherzo; IV. Finale

    Conductor: Osmo Vänskä. Orchestra: Lahti S O.
    • BIS CD861.
    • BIS.
    • 1.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Symphony no.1: III. Scherzo; IV. Finale

    Conductor: Osmo Vänskä. Orchestra: Lahti S O.
    • BIS CD861.
    • BIS.
    • 1.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Tulen Synty: The Origin Of Fire

    Performer: Gothenburg S O.. Performer: Laulun Ystavaat Male Choir. Conductor: Neeme Järvi. Singer: Sauli Tiilikainen.
    • BIS : CD--314.
    • BIS.
    • 2.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Tulen Synty: The Origin Of Fire

    Performer: Gothenburg S O.. Performer: Laulun Ystavaat Male Choir. Conductor: Neeme Järvi. Singer: Sauli Tiilikainen.
    • BIS : CD--314.
    • BIS.
    • 2.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Have You Courage?, Op.31 no.3

    Orchestra: Lahti S O. Conductor: Osmo Vänskä. Choir: Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat.
    • BIS : cd-1115.
    • BIS.
    • 11.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Have You Courage?, Op.31 no.3

    Orchestra: Lahti S O. Conductor: Osmo Vänskä. Choir: Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat.
    • BIS : cd-1115.
    • BIS.
    • 11.

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