Symphony No. 8 (Sibelius)
Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No. 8 was his final major compositional project. It occupied him intermittently from the mid-1920s until around 1938. A fair copy of at least the first movement was made, but how much of the Eighth Symphony was completed is unknown.
About Symphony No. 8 (Sibelius) in brief
Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No. 8 was his final major compositional project. It occupied him intermittently from the mid-1920s until around 1938. A fair copy of at least the first movement was made, but how much of the Eighth Symphony was completed is unknown. The composer repeatedly refused to release it for performance, though he continued to assert that he was working on it even after he had, according to later reports from his family, burned the score and associated material, probably in 1945. But in the 1990s, when the composer’s many notebooks and sketches were being catalogued, scholars first raised the possibility that fragments of the music for the lost symphony might have survived. Several short manuscript sketches have been tentatively identified with the Eighth, three of which were recorded by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in 2011. The work is thought to be even better than his Seventh Symphony, which is widely recognised as a landmark in the development of symphonic form. It is thought that Sibelii’s perfectionism and exalted reputation prevented him ever completing the symphony to his satisfaction. The propriety of publicly performing music that he himself had rejected has also been questioned. The Seventh Symphony is considered to be the most remarkable achievement of the composer, which he composed between 1898 and 1924. The Eighth Symphony is the only symphony not to have been completed by the composer himself. It was never performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra or the London Symphony Orchestra.
It has been described as one of the most important works of the 20th century, but it has never been performed by a major symphony orchestra. The Ninth Symphony was the last work by a symphonist to be performed by any major orchestra, and the first by a world-renowned symphony company, the Vienna Philharmonia. The symphony was performed by Serge Koussevitzky and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in 1937, and was the first to be recorded by an orchestra of its kind. The Fifth Symphony was first performed in 1915, the centrepiece of his national celebrations in Helsinki, Finland. The Sixth Symphony was premiered in 1924, the day after his 50th birthday, and it was the centre piece of the Helsinki Symphony Festival. The seventh Symphony was a compact, single-movement work, which some consider to be his most remarkable work to date. He was a national figure in his native Finland and a composer of international stature. His popularity spread across Europe to the United States where, during a triumphant tour in 1914, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Yale University. He died in 1957 and was buried in Järvenpää, where he had lived for the remainder of his lives. He is buried in the Finnish town of Ainola, on the shores of Lake Tuusula, near the town of Jälvenpareen, in what is now the Finnish city of Vantaa. He left behind a wife, Aino Jännefelt, who came from a staunch Fennoman family.
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