PLEDGE NOW
Jean Sibelius: The Great Finnish Master

We’re talking about the music of Jean Sibelius, the voice of Finland, the Scandinavian North.

This is an unusual view of the Jean Sibelius monument in Helsinki, Finland on Feb. 27, 1968. (AP)

This is an unusual view of the Jean Sibelius monument in Helsinki, Finland on Feb. 27, 1968. (AP)

The work of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius became world famous as the sound of Scandinavia. Evocative of nature, mountain, birch, ice and pine. His sixth symphony, he said, always reminded him of the scent of first snow.

Some loved it. Some did not. When Stravinsky and Shoenberg raced into the atonal future, Sibelius kept ties to the romantic past.

Now, Sibelius is getting another listen. From “Finlandia” right on through.

This hour On Point: a new look at the life and music of Jean Sibelius.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Daniel Grimley, professor of Music at Oxford University and Scholar-in-Residence at the Bard Summerscape Music Festival.

Christopher Gibbs, professor of Music at Bard College and Co-Artistic Director of the Bard Summerscape Music Festival.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wikipedia “The core of Sibelius’s oeuvre is his set of seven symphonies. Like Beethoven, Sibelius used each successive work to further develop his own personal compositional style. His works continue to be performed frequently in the concert hall and are often recorded.”

The New York Times “On screen was newly shot video of a car driving through the forest, then a manuscript — meant to be Sibelius’s lost Eighth Symphony — burning in a fireplace, its corners curling in the flames. The sequence follows our traditional sense of Sibelius: a crackly recording, the snowy woods of his native Finland, a reclusive composer in a provincial land.”

Wall Street Journal “In 1955, the French conductor and theorist René Leibowitz published “Sibelius, le plus mauvais compositeur du monde” (the worst composer in the world), a pamphlet aimed at the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). Certainly music history has been littered with similarly broad and injudicious barbs whose vitriol often flows out of pent-up professional rivalry. Leibowitz was best known as a wise and influential conductor of Beethoven and Mozart, as well as the guiding spirit over beautiful and idiomatic recordings of Bizet operas and Offenbach operettas. He was also the author of important books on Arnold Schoenberg and on 12-tone music. Significantly, Leibowitz was a 12-tone composer himself, writing at a time when Sibelius had already enjoyed decades of widespread popularity among audiences, despite the castigation of other modernist critics and composers, among them Aaron Copland.”

Playlist

“Finlandia” (2011–Bard Festival) Leon Botstein, American Symphony Orchestra

“Kullervo”; Mvmt. 5 (2011–Bard Festival) Leon Botstein, American Symphony Orchestra

“Finlandia” (1986) Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

“This Is My Song” (LIVE-2005) Joan Baez

Violin Concerto in D minor Erica Kiesewetter American Symphony Orchestra

Symphony # 1 in E minor; Mvmt. 1 (2011) Osmo Vänskä

Symphony # 3 in C major; Mvmt. 1 (1996) Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra

Mahler Symphony #8; “Veni Creator Spiritus” (Come Creator Spirit) Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Symphony # 5 in E flat major; Mvmt. 4 (2004) Sir Colin Davis, London Symphony Orchestra

Symphony # 7 in C major (2002) American Symphony Orchestra

Symphony # 7 in C major (2002) London Symphony Orchestra

“Luonnotar” (2011-Bard Fest.) Christiane Libor (Soprano) American Symphony Orchestra

“Tapiola” (1996) Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

“Andante Festivo” (1939) Finnish Radio Orchestra

“Finlandia” (2011 – Bard Festival) American Symphony Orchestra

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
May 6, 2015
An armed police officer stands guard on a road near the Curtis Culwell Center where a provocative contest for cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad was held Sunday, May 3, 2015, in Garland, Texas. The contest was put on lockdown Sunday night and attendees were being evacuated after authorities reported a shooting outside the building. (AP)

An art show featuring cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Two would-be killers gunned down. Free speech – hate speech – where’s the line?

May 6, 2015
Students at Reed College in Portland, Ore. burn their senior thesis in the college's annual Renn Fayre, shown here in May 2014. (Reed College)

It’s that time of year – when tired college seniors across the country turn in their theses. We’ve got a great group sharing their labors of love.

RECENT
SHOWS
May 5, 2015
One of the main characters in Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See" spends part of her childhood in the Paris Museum of Natural History (WikiCommons)

Anthony Doerr just won the Pulitzer Prize for his bestselling book “All the Light We Cannot See.” He joins us.

 
May 5, 2015
raqi security forces and allied Shiite militiamen prepare to attack Islamic State extremists in Tikrit, 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, March 31, 2015.  (AP)

Fresh upheaval in Iraq. Millions now displaced. Warnings of crisis and worse to come.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: May 01, 2015
Friday, May 1, 2015

What happens when we change show topics last minute, and also what happens when a New York Times headline seems to accuse Kristie Alley of being responsible for the infamous George Washington Bridge lane closures.

More »
4 Comments
 
How To Help The Survivors Of Nepal’s Devastating Earthquake
Friday, May 1, 2015

Where and how to contribute aid to the relief effort in Nepal.

More »
5 Comments
 
Your Favorite Musical Memories Of Rain
Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015

When we say ‘rain,’ you say ‘…?’ (Here’s what you really said when we said ‘rain.’)

More »
6 Comments