Jean Sibelius studied both piano and violin in Helsinki. The young composer first started his career as a violinist before being engrossed with the romantic repertoire, notably the symphonic tradition symbolized by Edvard Grieg and Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky. After a brief stop in Berlin in order to hone his skills, Sibelius becomes a violin and musical theory professor at the Helsinki conservatory. He then receives a life-long pension from the state, so he can devote himself entirely to composition.
Rallied to the nationalistic cause, Sibelius wrote several musical pages that narrate the country’s grandeur such as Kullervo (1892) and Finlandia(1900). Starting from the 20th century he receives enormous acclaim in his homeland where he is the most played and most admired. Incredibly abundant, he composed numerous symphonies and orchestral works masterfully managed. His Concerto for violin (1903) is proof of his taste for classical structures and lyrical romanticism.
The 20th century's influences on Jean Sibelius's work
Though often considered as the last Romantic, it shouldn’t be forgotten that his music is well-established in the 20th century. Whether it be his last symphonies stripped with silence and tempered with a resolutely enigmatic language or his string quartet Voces intimae reflecting on nature, Sibelius also possesses an introspective temperament.