The United Kingdom Sibelius Society is one of the largest Sibelius Societies in the world - a fact that is perhaps not surprising, as Sibelius has been recognized and performed in Great Britain since the beginning of the 20th century. The purpose of our society is to continue to promulgate Sibelius's wonderful music to the widest possible audience. There is so much to enjoy...
Sibelius wrote seven abstract symphonies and two further programmatic works of symphonic proportions and aspirations. Among his other orchestral music we find a wide range of symphonic or tone poems, including his last surviving large-scale work, Tapiola, written in 1926. This was the culmination of a lifetime's interest in the Finnish national epic poem, the Kalevala, a continuous narrative that draws upon ancient stories portraying mythical heroes and their exploits. Sibelius also wrote some superbly atmospheric suites and incidental music for theatre productions, including music to The Tempest by Shakespeare. Indeed Valse triste, one of his most popular pieces, comes from one such score, the music to the play Kuolema (Death) by the composer's brother-in-law Arvid Järnefelt.
Among Sibelius's most popular large-scale works is his Violin Concerto, probably the most frequently recorded of all twentieth-century violin concertos, and with good reason! Its magic and melodies cast a spell over audiences all over the world.
Perhaps less well known are the 100 or so songs and a similar number of piano pieces, generally assembled into groups for publication; these also deserve to be heard and performed. There are also some fine patriotic works, among which the orchestral tone poem Finlandia is the best-known.
Sibelius wrote in most genres with conspicuous success. His seven symphonies are recognized as a bedrock of symphonic style and content, rivalling those of any composer since Beethoven. They should not, however, distract us from enjoying Sibelius's wide range of other works. He saw value in them all, and it is not without reason that some of the greatest singers, pianists and violinists have championed his works throughout the twentieth century, and continue to do so.
Founded in 1984, the United Kingdom Sibelius Society seeks to encourage the enjoyment and understanding of one of the most interesting and stimulating of all great composers. The Society publishes a regular Newsletter with articles, record reviews, forthcoming concert programmes and other items of interest. Any Sibelius lover can contribute, as we believe that we can learn from each other's experience of this wonderful music.
The Society funds and hosts concerts, mainly in London. Numerous UK Sibelius premières have been given at these events, and we try hard to represent the less well-known side of Sibelius's output. Outstanding instrumentalists frequently perform the songs, piano pieces and violin music, for instance.
Seminars are held, often including contributions from contemporary composers who explain what Sibelius means to them. The Society has published a booklet entitled 'The Forest's mighty God', containing articles by performers, scholars from many countries, and other specialists on Sibelius. Of particular interest, perhaps, are the contributions from (mainly) living composers who responded to the question: 'What does Sibelius mean to you'. To judge from the comments by composers of all generations - from Thomas Adès to Sir Malcolm Arnold - his impact has been considerable.
We have also published a speech by the Society's President, comparing the achievements of Sibelius and Cézanne. H.E. The Finnish Ambassador, allowing members to mix and enjoy each other's company, hosts parties. Members vote for a Record of the Year each spring, and we also select an Artist of the Year in recognition of special achievements in performing Sibelius's music. Many such musicians become Honorary Vice Presidents of the Society.