Jan Sibelius: biography, interesting facts, videos, creativity.

Jan Sibelius

"My orchestration is better than Beethoven’s, and I have better themes than him. But - he was born in a country of wine, and I am in a country ruled by kefir." To whom could such an apt remark belong? Most likely, wit, merry and soul of the company. Who Jan Sibelius actually was, in contrast to the impression that his photographs produce, where we see a gloomy man with harsh eyebrows.

A brief biography of Jan Sibelius and many interesting facts about the composer can be found on our page.

Short biography of Sibelius

Jan Sibelius was born in Hameenlinna, a garrison town in southern Finland, on December 8, 1865. His parents were ethnic Swedes, Juhan Julius (this was the composer’s full name) was the middle of three children. According to the biography of Sibelius, his father, a medical officer, died when the boy was only two years old. Having lost her husband and breadwinner, Maria Charlotte Borg sold the family home and moved with her children to her mother.

At the age of five, Janne, as his relatives called, sat at the piano, on which his mother played music, and played melodies. In 1880, Janne began taking violin lessons, which he genuinely loved. The younger Sibelius made a magnificent trio: sister Linda played the piano, brother Christian - on the cello, and Jan - on the violin. And their repertoire very soon began to replenish with the works of the young composer.

In 1885, Jan arrives in Helsinki to study law at the National University. At the same time, he successfully passes the examinations at the Musical Institute and soon abandons jurisprudence in order to devote himself entirely to music. In the years 1889-91, Sibelius studied composition in Berlin and Vienna. His composer and conductor debut in 1892 began his symphonic career. In the summer of the same year, Sibelius married Aino Jarnefeld, from 1893 to 1911 six daughters were born in marriage, five of whom survived to a very old age.

At the turn of the century, Sibelius was no longer just a musician, but the country's main composer. During these years, in Finland, which is part of the Russian Empire, nationalist sentiments are growing, and more and more often, slogans about independence are heard. The appearance of a world-class composer with such a small nation, whose focus is on the Finnish epic and heroes of folklore, could not help turning Sibelius into a national symbol even during its lifetime. He gives concerts in Europe, his music sounds in the United States.

In 1904, Ainola’s villa in the town of Järvenpää, 37 km from Helsinki, became the home of a large Sibelius family. There the composer and his spouse will live until the last days, and then their heirs will sell the estate with all the authentic atmosphere to the state to organize the museum. In 1908, Sibelius was operated on a tumor in the throat. After the surgery, he abstained from alcohol and smoking for 7 years. It was almost unbelievable for a man known for his love for revels until the morning, whom the cartoons portrayed with an eternal cigar in his mouth.


In 1914, Sibelius arrived with concerts in the United States, where he received an honorary doctorate from Yale University. The First World War put the composer in a difficult financial situation - his main publisher was in the aggressor country, Germany. Several small plays were published in Helsinki, but many works of those years were published after the war. Since 1926, Sibelius ceased to conduct. This is due to the fact that he had the hereditary tremor of his right hand, and the fact that he often recently appeared on the stage in a drunken state. In 1928, Jan began to receive royalties for the execution of his works, which helped to improve the financial situation of the family. Since the beginning of the 1930s, he almost stopped writing music, contemporaries will call it the “Silence of Järvenpää”. The composer burned the score of his Eighth Symphony.

The 70th anniversary of the national hero in 1935 was celebrated with a big concert for 7000 spectators in the presence of the first persons of the state. At this celebration, Sibelius appeared for the last time in front of a wide audience. He will take the baton once again only once - on January 1, 1939, when the live broadcast was from Helsinki to New York. Under the direction of the maestro, the string orchestra performed the Andante Festivo. This concert was the only recording of Sibelius's performance. He died in Ainol on September 20, 1957 at the age of 92. Throughout Finland, national mourning was declared, and 17,000 people came to say goodbye to the maestro to Helsinki Cathedral.

Interesting facts about Sibelius

  • Despite his popularity, Sibelius lived modestly for most of his life - he was satisfied with very low fees from publishers, even for such a popular thing as "The Sad Waltz", which sold out in huge circulations throughout Europe.
  • The composer wrote his name as Jean, that is, Jean. It was the idea of ​​his uncle Jan, who liked the French version of his name, and he printed himself the appropriate business cards. When a few years later the young composer found them, he decided to use it and eventually also became Jean (Jan in the German manner) Sibelius.
  • The biography of Sibelius says that in 1907 the composer conducted his Third Symphony at the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater.
  • Sibelius said that in Helsinki the song inside of him was dying. From childhood he admired nature, and his house did not have running water or electricity, so that outside sounds would not distract him from work. His favorite pastime was walks around Ainola, accompanied by the noise of the forest and birds singing.
  • "Kullervo", won success at the premiere, during the life of the maestro sounded just another ... 1 time! Sibelius was unhappy with this work and in fact prevented its public performance. Only in 1998, Kullervo found a second life.
  • Sibelius forbade his daughters to use his piano, so when they wanted to learn how to play it, they had to go to the studio of the artist P. Halonen, located a few kilometers from Ainola.
  • The only phrase in English that Sibelius recorded in his diary for his American tour was "Milk Porridge".
  • Great Britain is the second country after Finland, where Sibelius was incredibly popular in life even among ordinary people. This is evidenced by the fact that in 1921 in the British port, the border guard learned and greeted by name the maestro, who had just stepped off the ship.

  • With Britain, and more precisely, with one of its representatives, Winston Churchill, the composer was kin and passion for cigars. In 1948, in an interview with the American edition, Sibelius complained that after the war in Europe there was no good cigars. After the interview with Ainola, such a number of parcels with excellent cigars from overseas fans began to arrive that the maestro had to make a request not to send them anymore. There were so many cigars that they remained even after the death of Sibelius 9 years later.

Creativity Jan Sibelius

"Water drops"- so was the work of 9-year-old Janne, written for violin and cello even before he learned to play violin. At 16, Sibelius found Adolf Marx's work" Teaching about musical composition "in the local library, which was the first stone on the road to composing skills. In 1884 he wrote Sonata for violin in a minor. In the early 90s, the composer takes up his first major work, a symphonic poem "Kullervo"Her premiere in Helsinki in the spring of 1892 was a great success, becoming the personification of the Finnish national idea. His subsequent works also gained the approval of the audience - this is also a symphonic poem."Fairy tale"and suites"Karelia"and"Lemminkäinen".


From the biography of Sibelius, we learn that in 1899 the composer completed his first work in the symphony genre, which at the turn of the century began to be considered obsolete and not sufficiently dynamic. Premiere The first symphony in the spring of 1899, it was one evening with the performance of a small composition, the "Athenian Song", which almost eclipsed it according to the impression made to the public. This song was an expression of Sibelius’s reaction to the tough policy of the Russian authorities towards the autonomy of Finland. At the same time he was offered to write music for a patriotic theatrical production from Finnish history. Thus arose the symphonic poem, later named "Finland". This work was banned by the Russian authorities for execution, and even in other countries it sounded under different names.

In the years 1902-1903 from the pen of Sibelius come out the most famous works of his today - Second Symphony and Concerto for violin and orchestra in D minor, the only one of the composer. After these brightest works, Sibelius departs from the national-romantic style, as evidenced by his Third Symphony. Disease and operation in 1908 brought the fear of death, and with it - new colors in his work. This creative development is traced in String Quartet D minor (1909) and finds its climax in Fourth Symphony (premiere in 1911). The author himself describes this symphony as “a protest against modern composition”, creating an austere and rather gloomy work. On tour in the USA in 1914, the maestro conducted the world premiere of a symphonic poem "Oceanids".

First edition Fifth Symphony It sounded at the anniversary concert of the composer on the day of his 50th birthday on December 8, 1915, but the symphony was being finalized for the next 4 years. New premieres took place only after the First World War. Sixth Symphony he began writing while still working on the Fifth, in 1918, and her essay lasted for 5 years. The Helsinki audience heard it only in 1923. The composer noted the "wild and passionate" character of his new brainchild. In March 1924, Sibelius finished his last, Seventh Symphonyrepresented by the same month in Stockholm. The symphony is laconic - it consists of one part, and its performance lasts about 20 minutes. In 1926, the composer’s last major work was released - a symphonic poem "Tapiola", the plot of which is based on Kalevala, like its first poem, Kullervo.

Sibelius music in the cinema

Music for Sibelius was not ephemeral, but quite visible. Like A. Scriabin, he correlated it with color. Perhaps, therefore, and perhaps due to her melody, she accompanies the plot collisions of more than a hundred and fifty films.

"Finland""Die Hard 2" (1990)
"The hunt for the Red October" (1990)
"Marshal of Finland" (2012)
"Demons" (2015)
"Sad Waltz""Princess of Monaco" (2014)
“No” (2012)
Concerto for violin and orchestraDr. Kinsey (2004)
"Mozart in the jungle" (2014)
Romance des-dur"45 years" (2015)

Drama Paolo Sorrentino "Amazing" about the life of Italian politician Giulio Andreotti is literally permeated with Sibelius music. In the picture there are also “The Daughter of Pohjola”, and the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor, and the Second Symphony.

In 2003 in Finland they shot a feature film “Sibelius” about the composer’s life.

The history of great music knows only one Finn. Neither before nor after Sibelius, not a single composer from this northern state could rise to such creative heights. But, in fairness, it should be noted that in the 20th century and around the world there were not many composers whose talent would be compared with the melodic talent of the Finnish maestro.

Watch the video: Great Composers: Robert Schumann (January 2020).


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