Jean Sibelius - Finland's Colorful Classical Composer
Jean Sibelius - Classical Composer and National Hero
Music is not what drew me to Finland's famous composer Jean Sibelius. It was his synesthesia. But in the end I became a big fan of this Finnish composer. I stumbled across his name on a list of famous people who were known synesthates. Intrigued I did some digging.
Synesthesia can be experienced in a variety of ways and Sibelius had what is known as colored-hearing. He described how he heard the sound of F major whenever he looked at his green fireplace. What a wonderful phenomena for a composer. He would also hear and see. So if he heard a violin playing a certain piece of music, he would see a corresponding color such as color of the sky at sunset in the summer. The color would be uniquely specific and tied to a particular sound. I can only imagine how profound an impact that would have had on his musical experience. It may account for the strong emotional pulse that permeates his compositions.
Words by and about Sibelius
Jean Sibelius - Critics and Synesthesia
"Pay no attention to what the critics say; no statue has ever been erected to a critic."-Jean Sibelius
"Our conversation darted about like a hare in the undergrowth. Before we knew where we were, Sibelius was juggling colors and sounds like glass balls, making colors resound and sounds glow, so that A major became blue and C major red, F major green and D major yellow..." Karl Ekman about his friend composer Jean Sibelius
Sibelius' Symphony #2 Grows Out of a Trip to Italy
Hear the Mediterranean in his music
While much of the music composed by Sibelius has a heavier hand, his Symphony #2 is lighter and more optimistic. It grew in response to his visit to Italy and at times you can hear the Mediterranean influence in the rhythmic flow. Sibelius wrote of the experience to a friend:
"It is as though the Almighty had thrown the pieces of a mosaic down from the floor of heaven and told me to put them together."
I attended the Houston Symphony performance of this work and was quite taken by it. There is something in the way the music flows and even pauses that made me wonder how much his synesthesia played into its composition. It's as though there are moments left for the audience to breathe and experience the tone before moving on. It was a wonderful afternoon and solidified my appreciation for this composer.
Thirty Years of Silence
Many say Sibelius stopped writing music the last thirty years of his life. While it is true there are no major works, some small pieces survive from that time period. Still, it is sad that such a gifted composer shut down for so many years. One can only wonder what great musical adventures we would have today had he continued to work.
I am not a music major, a student of classical works, a person with any great musical knowledge but I know what I like, what I enjoy, what I want to share. My appreciation for Sibelius continues to grow and that is my reason for sharing Jean Sibelius with you. I hope you enjoy this page, take a few moments to experience the work of Finland's favorite son, and share what you know and think. Perhaps this will even open a new musical door.
Jean Sibelius Trivia - Fun Facts about Finland's Favorite Composer
- Sibelius never released his .Eighth Symphony. In 1945, he burned the manuscript, along with a basketful of personal papers.
- Sibelius' native tongue was actually Swedish,
- Sibelius studied law at the University of Helsinki before he realized his passion was music.
- The Finnish 100 mark bill featured Sibelius' image.
- Nationalist sentiments were aroused by his orchestral piece Finlandia (1899), considered his most famous work, which became an unofficial national anthem. This led to his becoming one of Finland's national hero.
- Sibelius stopped composing and conducting in 1929 and spent the rest of his life as a recluse.
Gain insight into the works of Jean Sibilius
Definitely a must-have book.
Quick, what do you think of Sibelius?
Share your stories, sightings, thoughts, rants, raves...
More information on Jean Sibelius - There's a lot to learn about one of Finland's favorite sons
- Find out more about Jean Sibelius
- Eila Hiltunen - Sculptress of The Sibelius Monument
One of Helsinki's landmarks, the monument to honour national composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) was the result of a public fundraising campaign and a two-stage competition in 1961-62. At all stages, the project stirred an unprecedented public debate,
- San Francisco Classical Voice
Finnish symphonist considered a national hero in his homeland. His music spans an enormous emotional range, and many of his innovations remain influential on contemporary composers.
- The Jean Sibelius Web Pages
A discussion of Sibelius' music style.
- Jean Sibelius: A Reminiscence by Eugene Ormandy
Meeting Sibelius for the first time, I had the impression of being in the presence of someone almost superhuman.
Sibelius in Print, Audio, and Video - Three ways to experience Sibelius!
Comprehensive look at Finland's favorite composer and his music.
Riveting and exellent two-part documentary includes narrative, old photos, musical exerpts and highlights of Finland. Special addition is a performance conducted by Sibelius late in life of the Andante Festivolate.
"Philharmonia Orchestra under the seasoned baton of Finland's Paavo Berglund," this is an excellent collection and at a bargain price.
Who is your favorite composer? - Sibelius or Beethoven. You Choose
Who is the best composer?
The many moods of Jean SibeliusClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Musical Moods of Jean Sibelius
What do you think? Is his music too gloomy or just right?
Birthplace of Jean Sibelius
The Famed Sibelius Monument
A Sensory Explosion.
Portion of the Sibelius Monument designed by Eila Hiltunen.
SQUID WHO On SQUIDOO FEATURE - Many thanks for your support
Thanks to Waxing-Lyrical at Squid Who on Squidoo for posting about this page on Sibelius. It's an honor to have a page selected. Because I'm fond of this subject, I'm particularly happy to have the page chosen.
- Squid Who on Squidoo: Who is Jean Sibelius?
"For many, it is the music that draws someone's interest in a composer. For a few, it is the character and idiosyncrasies of the person, combined with their musical ability, that attracts one's focus."