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 and the early
Finnish sagas proved a strong influence on his subsequent work as a
Jean Sibelius was the most renowned composer that Finland has ever produced. He was born on December 8th, 1865. As a child he showed promise as a violinist and a pianist. He initially enrolled at the University at Helsinki in law, but later decided that he truly loved music. The next year he enrolled and the Conservatory and began a trip around Europe, highlighted by Berlin and Vienna. During this trip he developed a liking for the life of high society. He took on many habits such as excessive drinking and gambling.
Upon his return to Finland he married Aino Jarnefelt. She was a memebr of the aristocratic family in Finland. Through her he would maintain his habits. Nonetheless she would say with him until his death. In 1894, he heard a Wagnerian opera. He was so impressed by its quality that he decided to never compose an opera in fear that it would not match Richard Wagner's abilities.
During the early 1900's, Sibleius became more known through the international domain. He traveled to England and United States, where he met Antonin Dvorák. He began composing his Second Symphony, which was more nationalist than any of his previous pieces had been. Another successful piece was his Violin Concerto, which was compsed in 1903.
Also during these years, his health grew weak, and he was forced
to give up smoking and drinking. His compositions however
flourished. During World War I, he composed his Fifth Symphony, one
of his most famous. The audacity in the piece was memorable during
the war-stricken times. He went on to compose two more symphonies
and a few tone poems before he gave up composing for the last
thirty years of his life. It is said that drinking and
disappointment in modern music caused this. He died on September
His Famous Compositions
His notable pieces include Symphony no. 5, no. 7, an no. 2.
Finlandia was also a very worthy piece. His extremely difficult
Violin Concerto also ranks among his best. One of his few string
quartets, String Quartet
in D minor, op.56 "Voces intimae" has also become a havily
played piece in the world of music.
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