Category Archives: Historical criticism

Helmuth Thierfelder’s 1935 Open Letter to Jean Sibelius

Helmuth Thierfelder’s open letter to Jean Sibelius from 1935,[1] drowned for decades, has suddenly surfaced as Timothy L. Jackson has maintained that Adorno’s renown ‘Glosse über Sibelius’[2] or, in fact, its nameless first printing,[3] which Adorno wrote in New York, … Continue reading

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Why You Cannot Leave Sibelius Out

My title is appropriated from Richard Taruskin’s keynote lecture at the 2006 Bartók conference in Budapest, substituting Sibelius for Bartók.[1] His title pertains to the astonishing omission of Bartók from the recent Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Music;[2] mine to the … Continue reading

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The Sibelius Problem

‘Whatever became of Jean Sibelius? For the first half of the 20th century, the square-headed Finn was the totemic symbol of a heroic nation and the most admired living symphonist,’ wrote Norman Lebrecht in June 2007. ‘Today, half a century … Continue reading

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Sub umbra Sibelii: Sibelius and his successors

It is difficult to establish who was the first to mention ‘Sibelius’s shadow.’ The idea pops up in the 1920s at the latest. In an essay on ‘the youngest Finnish music’ from 1928, the composer Ernest Pingoud (1887–1942) refers to … Continue reading

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Sibelius as a Problem in Musical Historiography      

“For critics incapable of making aesthetic judgments without first establishing a figure’s historical ‘import’, these composers [Sibelius and Busoni] fell into an aesthetic no man’s land by failing to conform to historiographical formulae” (Dahlhaus 1989: 367). Carl Dahlhaus’s statement describes … Continue reading

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Programmatik und Symphonik bei Jean Sibelius und seinen Zeitgenossen

Jean Sibelius schrieb seine ersten Orchesterwerke in den 90er Jahren des 19. Jahrhunderts, zu Beginn einer musikgeschichtlichen Epoche, die Carl Dahlhaus in Anlehnung an Hermann Bahr „die Moderne“ nannte und die sich über ein Vierteljahrhundert von 1889 bis 1914 erstreckte.[1] … Continue reading

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Zur Rezeption der Musik von Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) in der deutschen Fachliteratur seit 1945

Wenige Aufsätze über einen Komponisten dürften in destruktiver Wirkung Theodor W. Adornos Glosse über Sibelius übertreffen. Ursprünglich war die Schrift im Jahre 1938, ohne Titel, als Rezension des Buches Sibelius: a close-up (London 1937) von Bengt von Törne in der … Continue reading

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“Sibelius, le plus mauvais compositeur du monde”

Cette note pertinente est publiée à l’occasion du 90e anniversaire du compositeur finlandais et tirée à 40 exemplaires vélin blanc et 11 exemplaires sur hollande antique, numérotés 1 à 51 par l’éditeur. Le tirage a été exécuté le 8 décembre … Continue reading

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Beyond Nationalism

Arnold Schoenberg wrote in 1947: Piece after the First World War granted political independence to nations, which culturally were far from ready for it. Nevertheless even small nations of six to ten million people expected to be regarded as cultural … Continue reading

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Nationalism Today

Nationalism in European music, as in European thinking and culture in general, originally is a phenomenon of the 19th century and closely related to subordinated nations becoming aware of themselves and longing for political independence. The idea of a nation-state … Continue reading

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