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Jean Sibelius (12/08/1865 - 9/20/1957)

Jean Sibelius grew to maturity at a time of fervent Finnish nationalism, as the country broke away from its earlier Swedish and later Russian overlords. Brought up in a Swedish-speaking family, Sibelius acquired a knowledge of Finnish language and traditional literature at school; early Finnish sagas proved a strong influence on his subsequent work as a composer. After early training in Helsinki and later in Berlin, he made his career in Finland, where he was awarded a state pension. Although he lived until 1957, he wrote little after 1926, feeling out of sympathy with current trends in music.

Stage Works

Sibelius wrote incidental music for Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Procopé’s Belshazzar’s Feast and Shakespeare’s The Tempest. His well-known Karelia Suite was derived from incidental music for a pageant. His popular Valse triste was originally written for Järnefelt’s play Death to accompany a deathbed scene.

Orchestral Music


Sibelius wrote seven symphonies, an additional eighth apparently completed but destroyed. The first two of these enjoy particular popularity.

Symphonic Poems



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