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Which are the five greatest works by Jean Sibelius in your opinion?

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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The works are ordered more or less chronologically. Define "greatest" as you wish. If you choose Other(s), please tell us here in the comments section which work(s) you had in mind.

You may change your vote later.

P.S.: Karelia, JS 115, includes "Karelia Suite"; Music for the Press Celebrations, JS 137, includes "Finlandia"; Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22, includes "The Swan of Tuonela"; Kuolema, JS 113, includes "Valse triste".

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Top ten most voted works that belong to Jean Sibelius' five greatest according to the poll at the moment (in case of tie, later work gets priority in the ordering):

1. Violin Concerto, Op. 47 (31 votes)
2. Symphony No. 5, Op. 82 (28 votes)
3. Symphony No. 7, Op. 105 (25 votes)
4. Symphony No. 2, Op. 43 (23 votes)
5. Tapiola, Op. 112 (19 votes)

6. Symphony No. 4, Op. 63 (19 votes)
7. Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22 (16 votes)
8. Symphony No. 6, Op. 104 (11 votes)
9. Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49 (7 votes)
10. Karelia, JS 115 (7 votes)

Works that aren't directly in the poll and were cited by members who voted for Other(s) so far (in alphabetical order):

  • Andante Festivo, JS 34 (1 vote)
  • King Christian II, Op. 27 (1 vote)
  • Luonnotar, Op. 70 (2 votes)
  • Piano Quintet in G minor, JS 159 (2 votes)
Total votes at the moment: 53.

Last update: 10/06/2022.


 

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I DON'T BELIEVE IT!
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Finlandia is one movement of Music for the Press Celebrations, JS 137.
Dubious. Wikipedia (quoting Dubal, David. The Essential Canon of Classical Music, p. 466. New York: North Point Press, 2001) states (my bolding):

"The last two movements of the suite were reworked to become Finlandia."

Also, there are hardly any recordings of the complete Music for the Press Celebrations and numerous recordings of Finlandia.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Dubious. Wikipedia (quoting Dubal, David. The Essential Canon of Classical Music, p. 466. New York: North Point Press, 2001) states (my bolding):

"The last two movements of the suite were reworked to become Finlandia."

Also, there are hardly any recordings of the complete Music for the Press Celebrations and numerous recordings of Finlandia.
The following quotes come from Wikipedia:

"It [Finlandia] was written in 1899 and revised in 1900. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire, and was the last of seven pieces performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history." - source here.

"Another patriotic work followed on 4 November in the form of eight tableaux depicting episodes from Finnish history known as the Press Celebration Music. It had been written in support of the staff of the Päivälehti newspaper, which had been suspended for a period after editorially criticizing Russian rule. The last tableau, Finland Awakens, was particularly popular; after minor revisions, it became the well-known Finlandia." - source here.

"The composer later arranged tableaux Nos. 1, 3, and 4 as Scènes historiques I (Op. 25) and tableau No. 6 as Finlandia (Op. 26)" - source here.

Due to the limitation of number of choices in polls, I had to decide between including Finlandia alone or the entire Press Celebration Music in it. I opted for the latter as it seemed to me the most complete option.

There's at least one performance of the entire Press Celebration Music on youtube:

 

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"The music paints a gossamer, transcendental image of a mystical swan floating through Tuonela, the realm of the dead. Lemminkäinen, the hero of the epic, has been tasked with killing the sacred swan; but on the way, he is shot with a poisoned arrow and dies. In the next part of the story he is restored to life."

 

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I changed a vote from Lemminkäinen suite to "other", i.e. Luonnotar. I find this both haunting and highly original (like a tone poem with soprano) and one of the best works of an uneven composer. (Nevertheless I had forgotten about it last night maybe because it was not a direct option)
Other votes went to symphonies 4, 5, 7 and "The Oceanides"; the latter may not be the greatest of tone poems but it shows an "impressionist" side of the composer mostly absent in his more austere works.
 

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There is a strong case for Luonnotar. I happen to really like his early string trio Korpo though to say it's objectively among his five finest might be going a bit far. Still, the greatest works are really to be found in the later symphonies - particualrly 4,6 and 7. Quite why anyone would list the tedious Violin Concerto among them is a mystery!
 

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For sure Symphony No. 7 and Violin Concerto, but as Sibelius is my favorite composer, I like many of his works, so I have a problem with choosing the other three works.

List of my favorite works composed by Sibelius:
  • Piano Quintet in G minor, JS 159 (1890)
  • En Saga, Op. 9 (1892. rev. 1902)
  • The Wood-Nymph, Op. 15 (1895)
  • Spring Song, Op. 16 (1895)
  • Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22 (1895, rev. 1939)
  • Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39 (1899)
  • Malinconia for cello and piano, Op. 20 (1900)
  • Finlandia, Op. 26 (1900)
  • Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43 (1902)
  • Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47 (1905)
  • Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49 (1906)
  • Nightride and Sunrise, Op. 55 (1908)
  • Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63 (1911)
  • Rakastava, Op. 14 (1912)
  • Two Serenades for violin and orchestra, Op. 69 (1912)
  • The Oceanides, Op. 73 (1914)
  • Two Serious Melodies, Op. 77 (1914)
  • Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 82 (1921)
  • Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104 (1923)
  • Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 105 (1924)
  • 2 Pieces for Organ, Op.111 (1931)
 
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