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Sibelius, Jean

1865-1957

Finnish composer of high rank, who is generally recognized as the head of the younger Finnish School. Sibelius was born in Tavastehus, Finland. He was educated for the law, but loved music and learned to play the violin, studying first with Wegelius in Helsingfors from 1885 to 1888, then studied counterpoint with Albert Becker at Berlin, from 1889 to 1890, and with Goldmark in Vienna in 1891. He then returned to Helsingfors and has since resided there. From 1893 he has taught theory at the Musical Institute and the Orchestral School in that city. He has added new lustre to the musical fame of his country, has proven himself a composer of real greatness, and through his excellent works has become known to the world at large. Inspired by the Kullero myths of Finland, Sibelius composed the Kullero Symphony, and has given to the beautiful poem a characteristic and peculiarly national interpretation. The companion pieces, Swan of Tuonela, and the Lemminkainen are tone-poems of great beauty and did much to bring the composer before the public. His other works are the opera, Maid in the Tower, produced at Helsingfors in 1896 and which was the first Finnish opera ever written; a suite, Carelia; suite, King Christian IV.; vocal ballads; string quartets; and quintets; pianopieces; songs; male choruses; a saga for orchestra; and cantatas, besides violin concertos and a suite on a historical motif, which was published in 1903. His suite, King Christian IV., is a remarkable work, which entitles its composer to be called really great. His latest composition is a violin concerto, which was played for the first time in England at a Promenade concert in October, 1907. His Swan of Tuonela was played in Philadelphia in 1904, and numerous other works have become known in this country by production under noted orchestral leaders. Sieblius has a decided leaning toward program music.