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Finlandia (tr Winterbottom)

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Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius (trans. Frank Winterbottom)


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This work bears the designation Opus 26.


General Info

Year: 1900 / 1908(?)
Duration:
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts - Out of print.


Instrumentation

(Needed, please join the WRP if you can help.)


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

Finlandia, Op. 26, is a symphonic poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It was written in 1899 and revised in 1900. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire, and was the last of seven pieces performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history. The premiere was on July 2, 1900, in Helsinki with the Helsinki Philharmonic Society conducted by Robert Kajanus.

In order to avoid Russian censorship, Finlandia had to be performed under alternative names at various musical concerts. Titles under which the piece masqueraded were numerous, a famous example being Happy Feelings at the awakening of Finnish Spring, andA Scandinavian Choral March. Most of the piece is taken up with rousing and turbulent music, evoking the national struggle of the Finnish people. Towards the end, a calm comes over the orchestra, and the serenely melodic Finlandia Hymn is heard. Often incorrectly cited as a traditional folk melody, the Hymn section is of Sibelius's own creation.

Sibelius later reworked the Finlandia Hymn into a stand-alone piece. This hymn, with words written in 1941 by Veikko Antero Koskenniemi, is one of the most important national songs of Finland (though Maamme is the national anthem). With different words, it is also sung as a Christian hymn (Be Still, My Soul; also Hail, Festal Day), and was the national anthem of the short-lived African state of Biafra (Land of the Rising Sun).

- Program Note from Wikipedia


While Jean Sibelius was a young man, his native Finland struggled for independence from Russia. In 1899, with press censorship at its peak, a group of Helsinki artists organized a series of celebrations in support of those journalists who wrote about the oppressiveness of Russian rule. There was to be a stage pageant presenting scenes from Finnish history. As the country’s foremost composer, Sibelius was the obvious choice to compose the incidental music. He wrote a prelude and six pieces, one for each scene in the pageant. The final scene was a short segment titled Finlandia.

Probably Sibelius’s most widely known work, Finlandia gives the impression that it is constructed from folk songs taken from the rich folk music culture of Finland. This belief became so widespread that Sibelius was forced to make a public declaration to dispel the erroneous conclusion. “There is a general impression abroad that my themes are often folk melodies. So far I have never used a theme that was not my own creation. Thus, the thematic material of Finlandia is entirely my own.”

- Program Note from U.S. Marine Band concert program, 29 August 2018


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources