"Poor Sibelius ! What luck he isn't here to hear it ..." The orchestral work Finlandia (1900) has always been one of the most important symbols of Finnish nationalism.
There is still a lot to be researched into Sibelius's music. His life has been written into a brilliant five-volume biography by Erik Tawaststjerna. It is being translated into other languages.
Sibelius has had his share of adversaries as well, especially in Germany, where for example Walter Niemann considered his music to be only exotic regional art ("Heimatkunst", 1906). Th.W.Adorno's opinion was(1938) that if Sibelius is to be considered a good composer, then none of criteria that is used to estimate music from Bach to Schönberg is valid. In France, René Leibowitz had a hard time understanding Sibelius's music.
Today, the atmosphere toward Sibelius has relented, even in Germany and in other Central-European countries. He seems at last to be breaking down the last bastions of his adversaries.
Text: Kari Kilpeläinen, Ph. D.