Jean Sibelius Biography

Jean Sibelius Biography

Jean Sibelius

Johan (Jean) Julius Christian Sibelius (December 8, 1865 - September 20, 1957) was a composer of classical music. He belongs together with Johan Ludvig Runeberg among the Finns who most of all symbolize the Finnish national identity.

Jean Sibelius was born in 1865 into a Finland-Swedish family in Hämeenlinna in the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland. His family followed the emerging norm of the Fennomans enrolling him in Finnish language schools.

His most famous compositions are probably Finlandia, Valse Triste, the Violin Concerto, the Karelia suite and the Swan of Tuonela, a movement from his Lemminkäinen suite, but he wrote much else besides, including other pieces inspired by the Kalevala, seven symphonies, a hundred arias, and masonic ritual music.

Sibelius' Musical Style

Jean Sibelius was part of a wave of composers who accepted the norms of late 19th century composition, but sought to radically simplify the internal construction of the music. Like Antonin Dvorák this lead him to seek idiomatic melodies and developmental procedures.

Sibelius built much of his music with melodies that have very powerful modal implications, and are drawn out over a number of notes. He then prefers to have simple harmonization, and then underneath some form of long sustained note, called a pedal, after the organ pedals that can produce low sustained sounds. He stated "music often loses its way without a pedal."

This result in his music not being considered complex enough by one critic, but he was immediately respected by his peers, including Gustav Mahler. Later in life he was championed by critic Olin Downes, but attacked by composer critic Virgil Thomson.

Sibelius over time sought to use new chord patterns, including naked tritones (See harmony) and bare melodic structures to build long movements of music, in a manner that is similar to Haydn's use of built in dissonances. He would often alternate melodic sections with blaring brass chords that swell and fade away, or underpinned his music with repeating figures which push against the melody and counter melody.

His work is rich with literary reference, even when not explicit. His 2nd Symphony has a section based on Don Giovanni sneaking by moonlight, his stark Fourth Symphony combined the work he had planned on a "Mountain" symphony, with a tone poem based on the Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven". He also wrote numerous tone poems based on Finnish poetry, beginning with the early "En Saga" and culminating in two late tone poems.

Sibelius has fallen in and out of fashion, but remains one of the most popular of 20th Century symphonists, with complete cycles of his symphonies being recorded even today. In his own time, however, he focused far more on more profitable chamber music for home use, and occasionally on works for the stage. Currently Simon Rattle, Lorin Maazel and David Allen Miller are considered exponents of his work.


Finlandia, (1899)

En etsi valtaa loistoa, a popular christmas carol (1895)

Jääkärimarssi, (1915)

Karelia suite

Kullervo, (1892)

Lemminkäinen suite, (1893)

Porilaisten marssi, (1900)

Symphony No. 1 in E minor Opus 39 (1899)

Symphony No. 2 in D major Opus 43 (1902)

Symphony No. 3 in C major Opus 52 (1906)

Symphony No. 4 in A minor Opus 64 (1911)

Symphony No. 5 in E flat major Opus 82 (1915 revised 1916 and 1919)

Symphony No. 6 in D minor Opus 104 (1923)

Symphony No. 7 in C major Opus 105 (1924)

Symphony No. 8 (was either destroyed or perhaps never existed)

Voces intimae, a string quartet (1909)

Jean Sibelius Biography

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Jean Sibelius Piano Sheet Music
      Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 (FRANCESCATTI)  By Jean Sibelius. Violin and piano. Published by International Music Co.
      Piano Music  By Jean Sibelius. Keyboard. Size 9 x 12. 160 pages. Published by Dover Publications.
      Finlandia, Op. 26, No. 7  Piano Solo. By Jean Sibelius. Piano Solo (Intermediate to advanced piano arrangements with no lyrics). Size 9x12 inches. 12 pages. Published by G. Schirmer, Inc.
      Romance, Op. 24, No. 9  By Jean Sibelius. Keyboard. Alfred's Masterwork Piano Library and Standard Collections. Level: Early Advanced (6+). Published by Alfred Publishing.
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    SIBELIUS Violin Concerto in D minor, op. 47  For Violin. Includes a high-quality printed music score and a compact disc containing a complete version with soloist, in split-channel stereo (soloist on the right channel); then a second version in full stereo of the orchestral accompaniment, minus you, the soloist. Published by Music Minus One.
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      Valse Triste  By Jean Sibelius. Keyboard. Alfred's Masterwork Piano Library and Standard Collections. Level: Early Advanced (6+). Published by Alfred Publishing.
      Symphony No 7  By Jean Sibelius. Miniature score. Published by Shawnee Press.
      Lords Prayer-Vocal Solo  By Jean Sibelius. Arranged by Row. low. Published by Carl Fischer.
      Karelia -Suite  By Jean Sibelius. Full Score - Mini. Op. 11. Published by Breitkopf & Hartel.
      Symphony No 6  By Jean Sibelius. Miniature score. Published by Shawnee Press.
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