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A Mountain to be Climbed

Donald Macleod explores Sibelius's years of enforced sobriety and his attempts to settle his mounting debts as the First World War loomed on the horizon.

Donald Macleod delves into the life and work of the man who is almost universally recognised as Finland's greatest ever composer - Jean Sibelius. Sibelius's music went a long way towards establishing a sense of national musical identity in Finland - a tradition that has flourished there ever since. Sibelius felt a strong connection with his homeland and the nature which flourished there, and the nationalist flavour of his works was highly appealing to a Finnish audience at a time when Finland was fighting for independence from Russia. In today's programme, Donald explores Sibelius's years of enforced sobriety and his attempts to settle his mounting debts as the First World War loomed on the horizon. We'll hear from his next two symphonies - his 4th and 5th - along with one of Sibelius's most performed works - the Valse triste from his incidental music to the play Kuomela.

Valse triste (Kuomela)
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Lorin Maazel (conductor)

Symphony No 4
BBC Philharmonic
John Storgards (conductor)

Bells of Kallio Church
1996 Recording - Kallio Church, Helsinki, Finland

Symphony No 5 (Finale)
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis (conductor)

Producer: Sam Phillips.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Jean Sibelius

    Valse Triste (Kuomela)

    Orchestra: Pittsburgh S O. Conductor: Lorin Maazel.
    • SONY : SK-61963.
    • SONY.
    • 8.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Symphony No. 4

    Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic. Conductor: John Storgårds.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN-10809.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 5.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Bells of Kallio Church

    Ensemble: Kallio Church Bellringers Helsinki.
    • BIS CD 193638.
    • BIS.
    • 1.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Symphony No. 5: Finale

    Orchestra: Boston Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Colin Davis.
    • PHILIPS : 446-157-2.
    • PHILIPS.
    • 7.

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