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Finnish composer Jean Sibelius


A French spelling, but definitely Finnish

Johan Julius Christian Sibelius, affectionately known as “Janne”, was indeed Finnish. He simply chose to spell his informal name in the French way, as “Jean” early on in his musical adventure. For all that, it is his last name that most people recognize without regard to the first name. Today, in the 2022 electronic world of music notation and composition, one of the leading software programs is actually named “Sibelius”. Even though his name lives on in the virtual world, his physical life was before the computer age and spanned the years 1865-1957. That was a rather long life. He is especially lucky to have lived into his 90s considering he had a serious bout with throat cancer in his 40s.

LSO to perform Finlandia

The LaGrange Symphony Orchestra will be performing one of Jean Sibelius’ most famous works, Finlandia, op. 26, on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. This concert will be held at 7:30 PM in Callaway Auditorium, which is located on the campus of LaGrange College, Dallis Street, LaGrange, GA USA.

Familiar patriotic theme

Jean Sibelius was considered a treasure in Finland. So much so, that a postage stamp set, as well as a Finnish 100 mark bill, was issued to honor him. Why was this?

His composition, Finlandia, is not the Finnish national anthem. But, it does proudly stand as the most familiar patriotic theme of the nation. Considered a tone poem in its original form, this was the piece that became the springboard for Sibelius’ career. He composed it for a charitable fundraiser in 1899 and called it “Finland Awakes.”

Sibelius moderately revised it from its original state to become more of a hymn. This only increased its popularity. In fact, you may recognize the central part of this great work as “Be Still My Soul.”  Listen for it as the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra performs this finished version on Tuesday September 20th.

Within this full program

Vijay Venkatesh, piano
Vijay Venkatesh, piano

In addition to Sibelius: Finlandia, the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra will also present the wonderful Grieg: Piano Concerto with renowned pianist Vijay Venkatesh. Mr. Venkatesh is an artist with profound musicianship, sparkling virtuosity and an innate sense of partnership. The LSO is honored to have him appear as guest artist for this highly regarded and physically demanding three-movement work.

The LSO is also performing Brahms: Symphony No. 1.  Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) took his time to write his first symphony – about ten years! But it was worth the wait as you will hear on September 20th. The four movements of this symphony will take you through a wealth of moods. Lauded in the 1800’s as “one of the most individual and magnificent works of the symphonic literature.”  This statement still holds true today.

Plan to attend!

This fantastic line-up is all part of the season opening concert. The 9/20/22 concert celebrates “ARTISTRY”, which is one of the four guiding principles of the LSO organization. The 11/1/22 concert will celebrate “COMMUNITY”, the 3/21/23 concert celebrates “EDUCATION”, and the 4/25/23 concert is the season’s grand finale which celebrates “SUSTAINABILITY”.

This is an incredibly strong year with special guest artists at every concert! We look forward to seeing you and thank you for supporting the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra.

For tickets and to read more about the season, click HERE.


Written with consultation to program notes by Betsy Schwarm.

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