Sibelius, Jean (1865-1957)
Jean Sibelius (born Johan Julius Christian Sibelius (8 December 1865 – 20 September 1957), was a Finnish composer and violinist of the late Romantic and early-modern periods. He is widely recognized as his country's greatest composer and, through his music, is often credited with having helped Finland to develop a national identity during its struggle for independence from Russia.
The core of his oeuvre is his set of seven symphonies which, like his other major works, continue to be performed and recorded in his home country and internationally. His best-known compositions are Finlandia, the Karelia Suite, Valse triste, the Violin Concerto, the choral symphony Kullervo, and The Swan of Tuonela. Other works include pieces inspired by the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, over a hundred songs for voice and piano, incidental music for numerous plays, the opera Jungfrun i tornet (The Maiden in the Tower), chamber music, piano music, Masonic ritual music, and 21 publications of choral music. Throughout his career, the composer found inspiration in nature and Nordic mythology, especially the heroic legends of the national epic, the Kalevala.
Sibelius composed prolifically until the mid-1920s but after completing his Seventh Symphony (1924), the incidental music for The Tempest (1926), and the tone poem Tapiola (1926), he failed to produce any major works in his last thirty years, a stunning and perplexing decline commonly referred to as "The Silence of Jarvenpaa", the location of his home. Although he is reputed to have stopped composing, he attempted to continue writing, including abortive efforts on an eight symphony. In later life, he wrote Masonic music and re-edited some earlier works while retaining an active but not always favourable interest in new developments in music.
The Finnish 100 mark note featured his image until 2002 when the euro was adopted. Since 2011, Finland has celebrated a Flag Day on 8 December, the composer's birthday, also known as the "Day of Finnish Music". In 2015, the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth, a number of special concerts and events were held, especially in the city of Helsinki.