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Jean Sibelius and Olin Downes

 
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:33 am    Post subject: Jean Sibelius and Olin Downes Reply with quote

This book should be on the shelf of every self- respecting Sibelius lover. Prof. Goss explores the relationship between Sibelius and Olin Downes. Sibelius had much to thank his American 'disciple' for, in bringing his music before the American public. But as Goss points out, Downes in promoting his hero, also used Sibelius as a stick with which to beat Stravinsky and others. This eventually led to a backlash against Sibelius, and with the arrival of Virgil Thomson as music critic of the Newyork Herald Tribune a dramatic downturn in Sibelius's fortunes. The book also contains most of the correspondence between Sibelius and Downes, and this in itself is a treasure house.

Jean Sibelius and Olin Downes by Glenda Dawn Goss
Published by Northeastern University Press.



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Tapkaara
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, I'm not familiar with this book...is it still in print? Where can one find it??

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This great read should be easy enough to pick up. I suggest that you might try Amazon.com or perhaps Barnes and Noble.--kp

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Tapkaara
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great, I found it on Amazon...I will order it within the next month, I think.

It's so great that there are so many books written about Sibelius. I certainly cannot read enough about the man!

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't want to give to much away about this great book, but Olin Downes was one of the most persistant of Sibs admirer's in pestering about the 8th Symphony. But imagine poor Sibelius's nerves when Downes mother asked her son 'Tell Mr. Sibelius that I am not concerned or anxious so much about his Eighth Symphony, which I know he will complete in his own good time, as about his Ninth. He must crown his series of works in this form with a ninth symphony which will represent the summit and the synthesis of his whole achievement and leave us a work which will be worthy of one of the elected few who are the true artistic descendants and inheritors of Beethoven'. Downes himself then urges the master not only to the completion of the Eighth but to the culminating Ninth. Is it any wonder that Sibelius finished up with the big bonfire at Ainola.--kp Crying or Very sad

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Tapkaara
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 01, 2008 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, the pressure!!

It's no secret that many of the world's Sibelius admirers pressured him on a non-stop basis for that 8th. If Sibbe didn't have the prssure to meet deadlines and international expectations, I wonder if he could have finished the 8th on his own terms at his own time. And if he was already being asked for a 9th before the 8th was perfected...the man must have absolutely caved. Hence the most notorious fireplace in all of music.

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Andrew B
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haha! Did Downes actually relay the message? I can just imagine the scene: 'My mum has asked me to ask you about your Ninth Symphony…'

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Downes did indeed relay the message and more.
Newyork Oct.14, 1937

After firstly thanking Sibelius for his hospitality and assistance that he had given to conductor Antonia Brico, who had stayed at Ainola during the summer, Downes continued 'My mother and I often speak of you and she asked me again about the eighth symphony, and I told her that I had decided to spare you any mention of that work, since you were so often annoyed by so many people with questions about it'.

Downes then spelt out his mothers plea as I have outlined. He then continued 'and dear master, I beg you,very seriously, it may seem impertinent for me to offer such a suggestion, but I do feel that this is really necessary and right. I would feel this if only because of the fact that I know well that your creative spirit requires more than one more symphony for it to complete its creative course......I feel more than I ever felt before that the world and the future must have at least two more Sibelius symphonies and so, with my mother, I beg you to look forward, not only to the completion of the Eighth but to the culminating Ninth'.

So much for Downes sparing Sibelius any mention of the Eighth, not to mention the Ninth!--kp

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Kurkikohtaus
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This kind of thing is enough to drive a man to drink.
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very true Kurki.

As if being pestered about symphonies 8 and 9 was not enough, a thoughtless American publisher even invited Sibelius to write a 'Children's Symphony' in the style of Haydn, no doubt thinking that the ageing composer might be able to manage that.--kp

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Andrew B
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ha! Maybe he could finally have finished off the Pianokompositioner för barn (Piano Pieces for Children) that he had started to sketch out decades earlier. Smile
The sketches have survived and contain the germs of several later works, even a theme from the Second Symphony (the descending w/w theme from the start of the first movement).
I also wonder what the result might have been like if Wäinö Sola had indeed talked Sibelius into writing an ‘Imatra Symphony’ – a programmatic piece on the subject of the rapids in Imatra, where a new power station was being built. For a brief moment in 1928 it was a very real possibility!

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Talking about all of these pieces that could have been is just too painful. They all sound like wasted opportunities. I had never heard of the propsed "Imatra Symphony". Sounds like that could have been a real blockbuster!

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More like a dam-buster... hm...
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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lets try and be positive. Talking of children, Sibelius made an arrangement of his choral piece 'Give me no splendour, gold or pomp' for childrens choir in 1954. He was almost 90 years of age.--kp Very Happy

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He did, but there's as small sting in the tail: without the optional organ part, most children's choirs I've heard just can't manage it. I have heard serious attempts where the pitch sinks by a semitone per phrase (seriously). Ouch!

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that we can forgive the great man here, if he did slightly misjudge the childrens capability's! mind you he did not write a great deal for childrens choir. Its facinating to think that when he wrote 'Kansakoululaisten Marssi' [March of the Primary School children] in 1910, he was deep into the black hole of the Fourth Symphony.--kp

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