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Sibelius: A Composer's Life and the Awakening of Finland

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  25 ratings  ·  5 reviews

One of the twentieth century’s greatest composers, Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) virtually stopped writing music during the last thirty years of his life. Recasting his mysterious musical silence and his undeniably influential life against the backdrop of Finland’s national awakening, Sibelius will be the definitive biography of this creative legend for many years to c

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Hardcover, 549 pages
Published December 15th 2009 by University of Chicago Press
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Michael Finocchiaro
I learned first about Sibelius from Alex Ross' book, The Rest is Noise. I immediately became enamoured with his symphonies. When I found this book on Amazon I grabbed it and had a hard time putting it down. The story of modern Finland is intimately intwined with that of Sibelius life and music. I did not know for example that Finland, once dominated by Russia rather that Sweden (this change taking place during Sibelius childhood) was a sort of Cote d'Azur for aristocrats in St Petersburg and oth ...more
Ruth Bonetti
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a very comprehensive book, not just about Sibelius, but the whole era and history through which he lived. It gives interesting background of the turbulent Finnish events that shaped this composer, of his family and compatriots.
I can understand some might feel disappointed that it deals more with Finnish history and background than the composer. I read it for both musical and historical interests. Being such a comprehensive book it too well over 200 pages to come to that crucial era under
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Philippe
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book on one of the great early Modernist symphonists is itself symphonic in scope and conception. Skillfully the author has woven several themes together: Finlands cultural and political history from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, Sibelius’ biography and the shape and logic of his artistic production. Despite some longueurs the narrative is compelling and one finishes the book with a feeling of having gained a helicopter perspective on a complex process of artistic maturation and dec ...more
Markus
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One might argue that in Sibelius: A Composer's Life and the Awakening of Finland, Goss leaves out the story of Sibelius. However, considering how his life was intertwined with the rise of Finland from a Russian state to an independent nation, and the lack of saved letters and journal entries from the composer himself, Goss does a wonderful job of weaving the narrative that is Sibelius's life. Although at times, Goss has trouble creating a longitudinal sequence of events, it is a well researched ...more
Tony Gualtieri
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not really a biography and not really a history of Finnish national awakening, but rather an amalgamation of the two. It gives an idea of the cultural milieu surrounding Sibelius and his response to it, but his private life and music are incidental to the narrative. Somehow it winds up giving one a deeper understanding of the man and his music.
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