BBC NATIONAL ORCHESTRA OF WALES/THOMAS SONDERGARD
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the later Romantic period, born December 8, 1865 in Hämeenlinna, Finland; died September 20, 1957 at his home Ainola, Järvenpää, Finland. He is considered the national composer of Finland.
The core of Sibelius' oeuvre is his set of seven symphonies. In addition to the symphonies, his best-known compositions include "Finlandia", "Valse Triste", the "Karelia Suite" and "The Swan of Tuonela" (one of the four movements of the Lemminkäinen Suite). Other works include pieces inspired by the Kalevala, over 100 songs for voice and piano, incidental music for 13 plays, the opera "Jungfrun i tornet" (The Maiden in the Tower), chamber music, piano music, 21 separate publications of choral music, and Masonic ritual music.
Sibelius composed prolifically until the mid-1920s. After 1926 he produced no large scale works for the remaining thirty years of his life. In 1931 "Surusoitto" for organ (op. 111b) was written for the funeral of Sibelius's friend and fellow artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela. It was to be Sibelius's last instrumental work. Although he is reputed to have stopped composing, he did attempt to continue writing, including abortive attempts to compose an eighth symphony.
Sibelius was married to Aino Sibelius (née Järnefelt). They were married for 65 years, and most of that time they lived at their home Ainola near Lake Tuusula, Järvenpää, Finland. They had six daughters. Nowadays their home serves as a museum and art gallery.