Sibelius – the less well known works

Last meeting of the season focused on Sibelius

Just over a century ago, Finland declared its independence at the time of the Russian revolution in 1917. At the start of the second world war in 1940, they then had to fight a fierce war against Stalin’s Russia who invaded the country with overwhelming force. The Russian general assumed it would all be over in around 12 days but the Russian army, although vast, was poorly led – following Stalin’s murder of thousands of Red Army officers – poorly equipped and the Finns put up a fierce resistance. They were ultimately successful losing only a small piece of territory but, they maintained their independence.

There is something faintly familiar with that story in the current events in Ukraine. Russia invading a neighbouring country with overwhelming force with the hope of a quick victory, being resisted by a much smaller but better led army. So what has this to do with the Recorded Music Society you ask? Living through this period was Finland’s greatest composer, Jean (as he is known today) Sibelius. His music contributed to Finland’s sense of nationhood from the time of independence and subsequently the war against Russia. So in addition to writing brilliant music, he was important giving the Finns a sense of national identity and pride. These things are significant during a time when a country is under threat.

Many of Sibelius’s works are well known and receive a regular airing in concert halls around the world. But like many composers, there is the well known and there is the less familiar. At last nights meeting, we were delighted to welcome again, Simon Coombs, who presented a range of less well known works, combining them with the life of the composer through his nation’s sometimes troubled history.

Sibelius started by studying law but while doing so, joined the Helsinki Music Institute. He was a capable violinist but decided to concentrate on composition and to that end, studied in Berlin and Vienna where he met Bruckner. He returned to Helsinki to compose his first major piece Kullervo. Among the pieces selected by Simon was A Conferment Cantata, A Song for Lemminkäinen, Finlandia, and a number of examples of incidental music. Also an extract from Pelléas et Mélisande and incidental music the the Tempest.

Simon was helped in his presentation by discs produced by Bis Records who have produced recordings by all of Sibelius’s music. Simon ended with some fragments of the 8th Symphony: it is not clear if Sibelius ever finished the work and destroyed it. Members were delighted with the presentation and the curation of the pieces linking it to key events in the composer’s life.

Sibelius’s music was an element of Finland’s struggle to achieve statehood and independence from Russia. It is strange to note that Ukraine’s famous composers; Prokofiev and Szymanowski among others, have not played a similar role in Ukraine’s resistance. Tchaikovsky is of Ukrainian extraction – the family name was originally Chaiko before the move to Russia.

This was the last meeting of the current season and the programme for the autumn is in final stages of preparation.

Peter Curbishley

November meeting

Details of the meeting to be held on Monday 8 November 2021

The next meeting will be on Monday 8th November when Alan Forshaw will present Listening to Beethoven in a different light.

We shall have an interval when we will offer tea or coffee, but you’re welcome to bring your own drink.  As before, we ask all attending to follow the Covid safety measures we have in place including signing in and sanitising procedures on arrival, well spaced seating, wearing a mask, minimising moving around and maintaining social distancing. 

On 22nd November we shall have a Members’ Evening. If you have a piece on CD of around 10 minutes that you would like to bring and have played at the meeting, please would you let us have details, if possible this Monday so we can draw up a play list.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Meeting tonight

The next meeting is tonight, Monday 25th October, when Ed Tinline will be presenting: Harmony around the Baltic

He hopes you’ll be able to join him on a musical journey around some of the Baltic countries, enjoying pieces by local composers including Jean Sibelius,  Arvo Pärt, Hugo Alvén, and others.

We shall have an interval when we will be able to offer tea or coffee, but you’re welcome to bring your own drink.  As before, we ask all attending to follow the Covid safety measures we have in place including signing in and sanitising procedures on arrival, well spaced seating, wearing a mask, minimising moving around and maintaining social distancing. 

Copies of the full programme for the season will be available at the meeting.

However please would you note that while the dates of coming meetings are unchanged we have had to alter the running order in November. The amended programme up to Christmas is now:

  • On 8th November  Alan Forshaw will present ‘Listening to Beethoven in a different light’.
  • And then on 22nd November we shall have a Members’ Evening. If you have a piece of around 10 minutes that you would like bring and have played please let a committee member know.

Our final meeting before Christmas will be on 6th December 2021 when Ruth Barlow will present ‘Classical Music in Animations’ and invite us to join her in an end of term scamper  through some cartoons with great classical music, including considering whether Fantasia was Mickey Mouse’s finest hour and listening to Tom and Jerry playing Liszt.

We hope you will be able to come on Monday 25th  October at 7.30 and to feel comfortable with the arrangements we plan to have in place.

We’re restarting!

We were planning to restart but new government restrictions and the rule of 6 has meant – along with many other organisations – we are unable to do so.  Various ideas are being looked at and the committee has a meeting this Friday (18 September) to look at options.  So for now, it means we shall not be restarting.

Previous post no longer valid.

[We shall be restarting on 5th October at a new venue!  This will enable us to meet Covid 19 requirements.  Details later today!]

New season starting

We hope to restart meetings in the Autumn

We need hardly note that the programme at the start of this year had to be abandoned so it is with pleasure that – tentatively at least – we hope to restart in the Autumn with a programme up to Christmas.  The first session will be on Monday 21 September and will be  The Legend of Orpheus and the Birth of Opera by Jeremy Barlow.

Starting at 7:30 as usual and at the usual place which if you haven’t been before is at the rear of the Guide’s Centre in St Ann St.  By car go down to the end of Exeter St and left before the roundabout into Carmalite Way.  Then left and almost back to St Ann St and there are some green gates on the left into a free car park.  Access is easy for those with disabilities.

It is a modest £3 for non-members.

Please keep an eye on this site or on Facebook in case we have to cancel.

Once we have finalised the remaining evenings we will post the full programme here.

Look forward to seeing you or welcoming new members in September!

Peter Curbishley

 

 

Next Meeting

Our next meeting will be on Monday 24th February at 7.30pm in our usual venue
where Jon Hampton, chair of Music in Salisbury and a good friend of our Society, will be presenting “From Art to Music – how great art has inspired great music”.

Jon will deliver a wide ranging survey of how great works of art have inspired composers to write great music with a few surprises in store.

I hope you will be able to attend.

Free parking outside the venue.  Only £3 for non-members.

Next meeting – the trumpet

The next meeting of the Salisbury Recorded Music Society will be held on Monday 1st April 2019 at 7.30pm in our usual venue, when Ed Tinline will be presenting  The trumpet (and other brass) shall sound – a focus on the brass section from Handel onwards.  Given the date, although it will be a bit late in the day for tricks as such, Ed hopes to include a little musical humour during the evening.

We hope to see you on Monday.

Second half gets underway

The second half of the season gets underway on Monday 4th February at 7:30 as usual with a presentation on organ music.  We have not had such a presentation in recent years (if at all) and yet there is a large corpus of music written for this ‘king of instruments’.  The music will included works in the 17th century and some written in modern times.  At least one recording was made with the Cathedral’s organ.

Hope to see you there.

Elgar

The next meeting of the Society on 12 November, is about the great British composer, Elgar

We shall be very pleased to welcome Duncan Eves from the Elgar Society, who will be presenting: Elgar – Orchestral Genius.

We look forward to seeing you on Monday.  If you are not a member, the entrance fee is £3 for the evening.  Parking is right outside and is free.