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Octet for Flute, clarinet and Strings
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 12:54 pm    Post subject: Octet for Flute, clarinet and Strings Reply with quote

Sibelius once related that En Saga's thematic material originated from an Octet for Flute, Clarinet and Strings which was apparently written in Vienna [1891] But it seems that the score has never been found.
Listening to En Saga, some of the passages do seem very chamber like to me. The Octet is actually listed in the chamber works section of 'Sibelius' Master Musicians [R Layton] but later authorities including Guy Richards [Jean Sibelius--20th Century composers--Phaidon] and our own Andrew Barnett [Sibelius--Yale University Press] do not mention the work.
Compositions for Octet were pretty rare, both Schubert and Beethoven had written Octets for strings and winds and I wonder if Sibelius had heard any of these.--kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's at least possible that JS knew the works you mention - he was certainly familiar with their other chamber music. The 'octet' - some authorities say septet - associated with En saga probably never existed, or was never written down; no sketches survive, nor any hard evidence beyond what you have mentioned. My best guess is that it was a plan the JS talked about but never put into practice. Mind you, I agree that some of En sage does sound very much like chamber music, and see this as further evidence that the shift from chamber to orchestral music was far slower and more blurred than many perople think.

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I very much concur with you regarding Sibelius's transition from chamber music to orchestral. Certainly his short stay in the Austrian capital acted as a catalysis for his orchestral ambitions.
He heard some important music in Vienna including the first performance of the 1888-89 version of Bruckners third symphony and he actually auditioned to become a violinist with the Vienna Philharmonic, and who knows how Sibelius's career might have gone if he had been sucessful. Certainly in works like Kullervo and En Saga, Bruckner's influence can be felt in places. But from this time, chamber music came to be less of an attraction to the young Sibelius has he began to flex his orchestral muscles.--kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The funny thing is that Vienna was such an important step in his musical development, yet he seemed to show no inclination whatsoever to go back there, even for a visit. Berlin, Paris, London, yes... but not Vienna.

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sibelius's music of course never really made any headway in Vienna during his lifetime. Weingartner had given the first two symphonies around 1908 and although he had scheduled the fourth for the 1912-13 season, it was withdrawn at the last minute. The excuse being that the bells had not arrived, but it seems that the orchestra had refused to play it. It is only fairly recently in fact that the fourth was heard live in Vienna. So its not very surprising that Sibelius never went back!--kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

True, but his music was hardly played in Paris either, and in a moment of madness he even once suggested moving there… maybe he liked snails and frogs' legs…

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

... and French wine ...
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lets all remember as well that during Sibs stay in Vienna he earned the reputation as something of a skirt chaser. He was a full man, unashamed of the occasional vulgarity. During his visits to London, Sib usually did the rounds of the music halls and Sir Henry Wood has narrated that he could usually manage Busoni, but if he got together with Sibelius 'My heart was always in my mouth.' He never new what time they went to bed or got up in the morning.
As regards Sibelius and Paris, I think that we all know the attractions that this lovely City as to offer! Embarassed --kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back to JS's reception in Vienna, the sad truth about the current situation is summed up admirably in an article by Edwin Baumgartner in the Wiener Zeitung, 11th October. (Hope you all speak German - I'll translate if there is a demand for it!)

Der 50. Todestag von Jean Sibelius blieb in Österreich – wenn nicht gar in ganz Mitteleuropa nahezu folgenlos. Offenbar gilt der finnische Komponist nach wie vor als eine nationale Angelegenheit.
Die Musik von Jean Sibelius trifft unsere Konzerthäuser in Wellen: Von Zeit zu Zeit ist sie massiv da, dann wieder ist sie auf Jahre hinaus verschwunden. Aber selbst wenn gerade eine Sibelius-Flut herrscht, beschränkt sie sich auf einige wenige Werke: Zweite und Fünfte Symphonie, Violinkonzert, schon seltener kommen die Erste Symphonie und die eine oder andere der symphonischen Dichtungen. Und auch dann herrscht bei großen Teilen von Publikum und Kritik die Meinung vor, dass diese pathosgeladene Musik mitunter die Grenzen der Peinlichkeit streift ... Trotz Sibelius 50. Todestag in diesem Jahr herrscht derzeit in unseren Konzerthäusern eine Sibelius-Flaute.

The whole article is at
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I see what you mean Andrew. Baumgartners review of the Bis Cd's gives a somewhat depressing view of Sibelius's reputation in Vienna. And forget Tchaikovsky it now seems that Janacek is to be considered Sibs blood brother. Heres the review.

The 50th death of Jean Sibelius stayed in Austria- if not in all of central Europe almost consequences. Apparently the Finnish composer remains a national issue.

The music of Jean Sibelius meets our concert halls in waves:from time to time, it is massively there, then it just disappeared for years. But even if just Sibelius flood prevails, it is limited to a few works:second and fifth symphony, violin concerto, even rarer, the first symphony and the one or other of the symphonic poems. And then there is large parts of public criticism and it is believed that this pathosgeladene music sometimes the limits of embarrassment touches.

Despite Sibelius 50th death anniversary this year, is currently in our concert halls a Sibelius slump. On the Cd-sektor however, starts the Finnish label Bis a great start and a total edition of Sibelius work. In March 2010 the number of 13 partially extensive and relatively inexpensive boxes completed.

The first box contains the Tone Poems, and in all versions. As a conductor Neeme Jarvi and stood Osmo Vanska available. And they are an entirely different picture of this music, when you are used to.

The pathos is only a minor matter, emphasizing ostinati, like incantation formulas appear. The tempos are remarkably quickly, the high points are far from herzensergiebungen, with eruptive force.

These interpretations Sibelius move far away from Tchaikovsky's successor with Finnish undertones to a composer in the field of tension between folklorismus and expressionism is a spiritual relative of the Czech Leos Janacek. What this box an unconditional recommendation is safe.

Sibelius, Jean The complete Tone Poems. Bis, 5 CD'S, about 56 euros.
Thursday 11th October, 2007.

Hope it makes a bit more sense now.--kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kullervopete, just from interest, did you translate this?

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kullervopete wrote:
These interpretations Sibelius move far away from Tchaikovsky's successor with Finnish undertones to a composer in the field of tension between folklorismus and expressionism is a spiritual relative of the Czech Leos Janacek.

Wow. Shocked

Although I appreciate the recognition Janáček is getting through this attempted parallel, I cannot wholly agree on the grounds that I don't think Janáček's music is expressionist, in the official Schoenbergian sense of that term.

I believe Janáček is pure folkore, in terms of content, inspiration and purpose. His music, certainly vocal and even instrumental, stems so much from the Lachian dialect and their folk songs that even Bartok could learn something here. The fact that it may sound expressionist to some is a by product of his "simple" folk-inspired themes, both musical and extra-musical.

With regards to the Sibelius comparison, I think Sibelius goes at it from the other end. Sibelius writes music first and foremost, and his special mode of expression may create an allusion to folk-elements in the minds of listeners... Janáček's music is an expression of the folk-tradition, and because of the nature of the specific folk-tradition from which it is born, it may sound expressionist to some.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

VIENNA PREMIERE OF SIBELIUS SEPTET FOR FLUTE, CLARINET AND FIVE STRINGS.

Further to my first post I can now report on an extraordinary twist to the story of Sibelius's lost chamber piece from Vienna.

Gregory Barrett, professor of clarinet in the NIU School of music, has a special fondness for music written by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius [1865-1957]. Barrett, a clarinetist, was reading Sibelius's biography in hopes of a mention of a chamber music work with clarinet when he stumbled on a musical mystery.

In 1891, Sibelius began writing a piece for flute, clarinet and five strings while studying in Vienna. He wrote to a friend that it was
'...completely like a fairy tale in the romantic style...' Sibelius rewrote the piece several times until it became an orchestral piece, 'En Saga'.

At some point, the chamber version was lost. The orchestral score was first kept in the library of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra but, somehow, it also disappeared. In the 1970s, it miraculously was found in an antiquarian shop in Oxford and, amazingly, returned to the Helsinki Philharmonic.


Barrett was given a copy of this orchestral score by the Helsinki Philharmonic and began reconstructing the lost chamber work from it. When it was complete, Breitkopf and Hartel, a major international publishing house located in Wiesbaden, Germany, offered to publish the work. The Austrian-Finnish Friendship Society asked to sponsor the world premiere in Vienna, the City where Sibelius wrote the original work.

In June 2003, Barrett and six musicians from the Lahti [Finland] Symphony met in Vienna for rehearsals and the premiere concert. The performance was held in the Brahms Hall of Der Musikverein, famous for its televised New Year's concert. The Finnish Embassy gave a gala reception after the performance.

Gregory Barrett is Professor of clarinet at Northern Ilinois University. The published Breitkopf and Hartel score and parts for the Septet are now available through music distributors and online from Breitkoph. Barretts recording 'The Finnish clarinet' was available from Amazon.com.

I am trying to make contact with Professor Barrett to find out more regarding this exiting piece. Watch this space.--kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kullervopete, as you know, I am always and forever trying to raise awareness in the musical community about the Sibelius Forum... if you could possibly inform Prof. Barrett about our forum here, I would much appreciate it. Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am told that this is merely a chamber arrangement of the original 1892–93 version of En saga. If that's so it might be an effective piece, and no doubt is arranged with great skill, but it would have little similarity with any chamber piece that Sibelius wrote (or in this case didn't write, I firmly believe). I don't want to be a spoilsport but, if you're looking for a lost masterpiece, this has all the hallmarks of a red herring!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must make it absolutely clear that I for one do not claim that we have a lost masterpiece here. But I would contend that Sibelians everywhere should welcome the opportunity to hear it.
I for one would have loved to have been in the Vienna Musikverein to hear the premiere. Lets remember that Anthony Payne made a reconstruction of Elgars unfinished third symphony from sketches, and it proved very successful, so lets hear a bit less talk of red herrings.

Professor Barrett has kindly e-mailed me today and attached much facinating imformation. Incidently Kurki, I had already mentioned the Sibelius Forum to him, so hopefully Prof. Barrett might take a look so lets not get to negative.
Professor Barrett is a commited Sibelian and I think that we should applaud his work.--kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fine, but please note also the distinction between an arrangement of an orchestral work and a reconstruction of a lost chamber work!

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

'The lost En Saga Septet has been reborn. Now flutists, clarinetists, and string players worldwide have a major chamber piece by Sibelius to perform and enjoy'.--Gregory Barrett.

Years after his study in Vienna, Sibelius told biographer, Karl Ekman, Jr., that in the spring of 1891, while in Vienna, he had composed an Octet for flute, clarinet and strings. By September 1892 it had become a septet. In November it had evolved into a work he called 'Ballet Scene No.2' that was ''...like a fairy tale in the Romantic Style.'' One month later he completed his orchestral work En Saga, which he told biographer Erik Furuhjelm had as its basis the octet for flute, clarinet and strings begun in Vienna. All sketches of the septet, octet, and Ballet Scene No.2, which are considered the first stages of En Saga, have vanished. No one knows how similar the lost chamber pieces are to En Saga, but it is known that at least some of the themes of En Saga were first used in the lost chamber works.
I was surprised to learn of the very large number of performances that have taken place since the historic premiere in Vienna, and with excellent reviews. These include broadcast performances in Canada and Australia and at the Crusell Festival and chamber music by Lake Tuusula in Finland.
Looking at the original score of En Saga, their are 17 tempo changes and 48 key modulations. Prof. Barrett relates that as he worked slowly the Septet came together. In his arrangement he retained as much as possible, all the musical layers and richness of orchestration found in Sibs orchestral En Saga. Of course the orchestra version ends with a long clarinet solo, accompanied only by strings and that was easy to keep. Sometimes the clarinet substitutes for the horns, sometimes cello. Sib uses the bass drum prominently in his orchestral climaxes and in the Septet version this effect is made by the Double Bass. In actual fact, of Sibs 22 minute orchestral En Saga, only two of Sibs 952 measures were deleted.
I am very much hoping to get hold of the recording and then I can form a clearer idea of the piece.--kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Further to my last post, it seems that no commercial recording has yet been made of the En Saga Septet. Andrew B who is project advisor to Bis records' Complete Sibelius Edition has confirmed to me that as the En Saga Septet is an arrangement, it will not be included.
However, I have recently contacted a number of record company's including Bis and Ondine in the hope that a recording of this most interesting piece might be forthcoming.--kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Earlier in the thread Andrew B quoted Baumgartner, regarding Sibelius's reputation in Vienna and I quote 'The music of Jean Sibelius meets our concert halls in waves from time to time, it is massively there, then it just disappeared for years'.
Well is 2002 it seems that it was certainly there. Heres a review.
When the Finnish Radio S. O. under Jukka-Pekka Saraste played the cycle of symphonies in the Konzerthaus, Vienna in the spring of 2002, the concerts were sold out. The critics were unanimous concerning Sibelius's standing--even in the City, which had been perhaps the last classical music metropolis to reject Sibelius.
'Sibelius was a modern composer in an exiting way' wrote Peter Vujica in Der Standard. The Newspaper Wiener Zeitung, for its part considered Sibelius a landmark in modernity.
Vienna is slowly catching up.--kullervopete.

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