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The orchestral music of Sibelius

By Michael Stuart Collins


A study of the published orchestral music of Sibelius and its stylistic development. This study suggests the presence of an essentially tonal evolution in the symphonies, largely stated in basically straightforward musical terms, and frequently cadential in origin. It also suggests\ud that the energy for these tonal evolutions arises from the exploration of certain ambivalent features and procedures; and further, that these tonal evolutions give rise to a considerable number ( and variety) of formal innovations even though, as a whole, the symphonies of Sibelius show a\ud frequent reliance on a relatively few characteristic procedures and ingredients. \ud \ud The results of this survey also show that the orchestral colouring itself directly contributes to the tonal argument of the symphonies and, additionally, that certain of the symphonic movements represent more of a unique achievement than has formerly been recognised.\ud \ud This study also traces the gradual development and increasingly vital use of 'pace' ( that is, of pulse, speed, harmonic rhythm, and changes of tonality) as a constructive factor in the symphonies and tone poems. The distinction and relationship between these two important areas of Sibelius's orchestral music ( for the theatre music\ud and other compositions stand some what apart in this respect) is examined and leads to the conclusion that, with some notable exceptions, the tone-poems are largely concerned with the vagaries of tonality, and its establishment, though their original conception was in some measure due to a programmatic inspiration.\ud \ud With regard to the theatre music and other orchestral compositions,the results of this study suggest that Sibelius was (frequently) creatively inhibited by the fundamental and inherent small-scale characteristic of these works; in contrast, the inclusion of a solo instrument would appear to offset this limitation and indeed to give rise to some small-scale compositions of distinction.\ud \ud The influence of Finnish folk music (and speech) is also\ud discussed

Publisher: School of Music (Leeds)
Year: 1973
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