Sibelius, Jean (Johan Christian Julius)
b Hämeenlinna (in Swedish, Tavastehus), a small town 100km N of Helsinki, Finland 1865, d Ja˘ rvenpää, SW Finland 1957. Attracted to the piano at the age of 5, encouraged by his uncle the seed-merchant Pehr Sibelius, learning the violin in the 1880s but developing his talent erratically, he studied in Helsinki (under Martin Wegelius, conductor of the Finnish opera), Berlin and Vienna. He grew up speaking mainly Swedish and began to feel the tension between Swedish and Finnish language and culture. He taught at the Helsingfors Music Institute and the Philharmonic Orchestra School, but a government life-pension granted when he was 32 enabled him to devote his life to music, more particularly to composing it. By this time in the 1890s he was securely identified, by himself and others, as Finnish. The northern climate is often said to be reflected in the special beauties of his music; he composed 7 symphonies (his most significant works), a violin concerto, several tone-poems and over 100 songs. His two main collections of sacred music were Five Christmas Songs (1895) and Musique Religieuse (1927), but the hymn tune adapted from the tone poem Finlandia has given him entry into many hymn-books. and his music to many congregations, from 1933 onwards. He died at the age of 91, revered in Finland (as he is still) as a national hero, while opinion in other countries is divided. See also the major treatment in Grove. No.754=769.