program notes by composition > F > Finlandia


Jean Sibelius/arr. by Lucien Cailliet

This tone poem is probably the most widely known of all the works of Sibelius. It was composed as “Finland Awakes” in 1899 for a series of tableaux illustrating episodes in Finland ́s past. The celebrations were a contribu- tion towards the resistance to efforts to increase Russian influence. Sibelius revised the stirring, patriotic finale in 1900, renaming it “Finlandia”.

“Finlandia” became a symbol of Finnish nationalism. While Finland was still a Grand Duchy under Russia, performances within the empire had to take place under the covert title of "Impromptu".

Like Finland, this work is characteristically rugged. It shows strength and determination backed by militaristic challenge at times, and evidences solemn reverence for the grandeur and beauty of nature. Vivid pictures of the land arise, which at once arrest attention and command appreciation.

Johan Julius Christian (“Jean”) Sibelius (1865-1957) was one of the most notable composers of his time. He was born into a Swedish-speaking family and initially studied law. More interested in music, he studied in Helsinki, Berlin and Vienna. He was initially enamored with the music of Wagner but more lasting influences turned out to be Busoni, Bruckner and Tchaikovsky. He loved nature, and the Finnish landscape often served as material for his music. Most of his lifelong output occurred before age 61 and for nearly the last thirty years of his life, Sibelius even avoided talking about his music.

Last updated on July 18, 2013 by Palatine Concert Band