There they come, the birds of my youth

Cranes SibeliusSibelius was returning to his home, Ainola, from his customary morning walk in the woods. Exhilarated, he told his wife Aino that he had seen a flock of cranes approaching.

“There they come, the birds of my youth,” he exclaimed.

Suddenly, one of the birds broke away from the formation and circled once above Ainola. It came so close that he could see it clearly for the first time in years, despite his cataract-ridden eyes. The bird then rejoined the flock to continue its journey.

Jean Sibelius died two days later at home, on 20 September, 1957.

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Photo of a flight of sandhill cranes by Mark Stevens (Flickr/thor_ mark), used under Creative Commons License.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/14723335@N05/9445039297/
 

Lost King of Finland

On September 20, 1957 – only 53 years ago, Jean Sibelius passed away.  Sir Malcolm Sargent, who was in Finland to conduct the Fifth Symphony, said, “Finland has lost its king, and there is no successor.”

I found this quotation from a digitized newspaper article from 22 September 1957, that I found via NewspaperSG, which is a digital respository of Singapore newspapers. Have a look – it’s quite a piece of history.

Here again, is my Farewell video tribute to Jean Sibelius. Continue reading Lost King of Finland

Sibelius and the Fifth Symphony

ON THE EVENING of the 20th of September 1957, Jean Sibelius died. He was aged 91.

Not far away in the capital of Finland, the Helsinki Orchestra, under the baton of Sir Malcolm Sargent, was performing the composer’s Fifth Symphony at the exact time of the composer’s death.

I have constantly wondered about this little piece of history, almost sentimentally romantic, yet heroic in its appropriateness. Heroic because while the composer was struggling with the Symphony between 1914 and 1919, the world was plunged into its first great modern war. Continue reading Sibelius and the Fifth Symphony