Yours and My Sibelius – an exhibition at the Sibelius Museum

As some of you might have noticed, I run a particular board on Pinterest. Amidst the visual feastful of amazing food, fashion and nature’s scenery, I think mine is quite possibly the platform’s only Jean Sibelius board.

I try not to just pin ANY image of Sibelius, as that would probably result in a whole hoard of black-and-white photos of the man, looking meditative or slightly uncomfortable and invariably either heavily moustached or bald of head. I try to pin pictures of him in colour, in particular new paintings of the composer. This, I think, makes the pins much more unique, my finds much more interesting. But more importantly, new depictions of Sibelius represent a continuing tradition, each artist depicting his or her perspective on the composer, and each one becoming a part of his musical legacy.

Recent paintings of Sibelius are surprisingly forthcoming – every now and then, I’d find a new one, such as this very aristocratic take by Tim Binger, this evocatively indirect depiction of “Sibelius Amongst the Saplings” (2011) by Billy Childish or this 2009 portrait (based on the famous photo) of the young Sibelius by Lorena Bowser, that is closely related to this blog. Follow me on Pinterest as I continue to find them.

Back in December 2012, much to my surprise I received an email from none other than the Sibelius Museum in Turku, Finland.  It came from their educationalist, Ms Toropainen, and she said that she’d found my blog and Pinterest board and asked if it would be ok if they could feature some of the material in an upcoming little exhibition at the museum.

My only regret is that I cannot be in Turku! I tried to plan it in my September 2012 trip to Finland, but alas, could not fit it in my schedule. So, oddly enough, this blog of mine has now gone there in my place.

Yours and My Sibelius – an exhibition at the Sibelius Museum (15 Jan - 30 Apr 2013)

“YOUR AND MY SIBELIUS” – the exhibition opened on 15 January 2013 and will run until 30th April. The intention of the exhibition is to showcase the composer  in a different dimension(s). Not specifically through the man or his music, but through a “variety of phenomena to which Sibelius has been the source of inspiration, [such as] in photographs, drawings, texts and other objects.”

The museum had decided to use this blog, Dust of Hue, in one of the showcases. They are picking out some text and pictures to be put in a slideshow, I am told. It is a small contribution I make, but a huge honour.

In addition, the pupils of Grade 6E of Puolala School (Puolalan Koulu) in Turku – the sponsor class of the Sibelius Museum – have contributed drawings on the topic “Your and my Sibelius”.

Pupils of Grade 6E of Puolala School (Puolalan Koulu) in Turku – the sponsor class of the Sibelius Museum – have contributed drawings on the topic “Your and my Sibelius”.
All pictures courtesy of the Sibelius Museum.

The drawings are a delightful mix of portraits (in varying levels of severity), musical instruments and symbols, everyday objects (presumably Sibelius-branded merchandise), and of course, The Moustache.

But my favourite one, winner by a far, far margin, is this subtle little piece:

Portrait of Sibelius by a pupil of Grade 6E of Puolala School, Turku, Finland

The austerity of the work, the singular purpose of the artist’s line, the organic manner in which the face is built, the rock-like monumental-ness, the perfectly Sibelian stern expression – I’m sure Sibelius himself would’ve smiled at it and Aino would probably have it framed. :)

Sibelius, 1939

“YOUR AND MY SIBELIUS” – An Exhibition
15 Jan – 30 Apr 2013

The Sibelius Museum is located at:
Biskopsgatan 17, FIN-20500 Åbo, Turku, Finland (Google+/Map)
Opening hours:
Tuesday-Sunday 11-16, Wednesdays also 18-20
Closed on Mondays.

Drawings by 6th Grade Children after listening to Sibelius

I came across this video while looking for Sibelius on YouTube. It is titled simply, “Sibelius Pictures” but the thumbnail gives a clue why it seems unusual. As you start the video, the video explains that these are “Drawings by 6th Grade Children After Listening to Sibelius”. The video is credited to Escola Frederic Godàs, a public school in Lleida, Spain.

Not entirely sure what is the context of this exercise, but what an interesting thing to see how kids would depict Sibelius’ music. It looks like the music used are standard warhorses, the “Intermezzo” from the Karelia Suite (as hinted by the many mentions of “Carelian” in some of the drawings), Finlandia (drawings of Finnish independence), and the “Valse triste” (“sad waltz”) from the music for Kuolema (“Death”). Not surprisingly, the children were probably clued in on the context, if you look at the many vivid (and sometimes amusing) drawings of the figure of Death come to claim its due.

Video and screen captures © Escola Frederic Godàs

I’ve been told more than once by fresh listeners to Sibelius that his music sounds like film music, particularly in the context of scenery expositions, such as sunrises. My standard answer is that it’s the other way around – generations of film music composers have copied Jean Sibelius. While Sibelius himself often wrote music with extremely pictorial leanings, his symphonic essays were the exact opposite – he denied any extra-musical intentions in them. Nevertheless, as listeners we are hard pressed not to hear nature in them.

As the composer himself once said, nature and life pervades everything he composes. I hope these children will find his artistic influence of lasting benefit in their lives. Now that they’ve tried their hand at Kuolema, I would’ve loved to see them draw Tapiola