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Vaughan Williams on Music$
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David Manning

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182392.001.0001

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Sibelius at 90: Greatness and Popularity

Sibelius at 90: Greatness and Popularity

(p.174) (p.175) Chapter 35 Sibelius at 90: Greatness and Popularity
Vaughan Williams on Music

David Manning

Oxford University Press

Jean Sibelius defied tradition; indeed his harmonic vocabulary is in the direct line from Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert. It is because he has never deviated from the strait path that he is truly original and will remain so when the 12-tone apostles have become mere commonplaces. Sibelius first achieved fame as a “popular” composer. Finlandia became a hymn tune, and Valse Triste was at one time played almost nightly by every restaurant band. Nowadays, Finlandia and Valse Triste are nearly forgotten and the symphonies obtain ever more adherents. Nevertheless, one must always remember that it was the same man, with the same outlook and the same mind, who wrote both Finlandia and the Fourth Symphony. Sibelius has his head and his heart in heaven, but his feet firmly planted on the ground. There is a popular element in all great music, and the music of Sibelius is no exception.

Keywords:   Jean Sibelius, harmonic vocabulary, Finlandia, hymn tune, Valse Triste, Fourth Symphony

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