Jean Sibelius, 1865-1957, by Christopher Nupen (II)

Maturity and silence

This is an intimate account, using film and Sibelius's music and words, of a great artist's struggle with his medium, with the world and with himself. The films set out also to try and free Sibelius's reputation from some of the unnecessary encrustations of history by looking at the composer's own declared intentions, so poetically expressed, which are earning the increasing attention and respect of composers today.

"You have lit a candle in the world of music that will never go out."
Ralph Vaughan Williams

At the peak of his career, Sibelius was hailed by almost every leading critic and composer in England as the greatest symphonist of the twentieth century, in the words of Ralph Vaughan Williams, "You have lit a candle in the world of music that will never go out." In 1935, a survey by the New York Philharmonic Society showed his music to be more popular with their concert-goers than that of any other composer, living or dead, a degree of recognition in his own lifetime unequalled in Western music.

By the mid-1960's however, critics in England, and to a lesser extent in the United States, had reacted against the effusions of their forebears and relegated Sibelius to a position of minor importance. Views are changing again, and the time is right for a re-assessment of Sibelius's work.

The films are made in the belief that if the music of Sibelius is approached with a gesture of commitment and measure of understanding, it offers rewards on the level of the greatest masters in Western music and the films are made in the hope of contributing something to that understanding.

In the press:

"For the Sibelius films alone Christopher Nupen's life on this earth must be judged a life worth living."
Terence Davies (prize-winning English screenwriter).

Jean Sibelius composer


Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester
Vladimir Ashkenazy conductor
Boris Belkin violin
Elisabeth Söderström soprano


Finnish Radio Orchestra
Jean Sibelius conductor

Movie director : Christopher Nupen
Musical period : Music from the 20th century

Duration : 50 min
Production date : 1984
Production : © Allegro Films
Available version(s) : EN



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