Stages of life of Jean Sibelius 1865 - 1957
1865 On 8 December Johan Julius Christian (Jean) Sibelius is born in Hämeenlinna, southern Finland. Other notable figures born in the same year were the Danish Carl Nielsen and the Russian Ivan Glazunov. Gustav Mahler was five years old, Tchaikovsky was 25, Brahms was 32, and Verdi and Wagner were 52. Jean Sibelius’ parents were Christian Gustaf Sibelius, the town physician of Hämeenlinna, and Maria Charlotta Borg. 1868 Sibelius’ father dies.
The earliest compositions are produced, including Water Drops for violin and cello).
1885 Jean Sibelius matriculates and begins studies in law, but interrupts these a year later in order to focus his attention solely on music.
1889 String quartet in A minor. First study trip to Berlin.
1890 Engagement to Aino Järnefelt. Study trip to Vienna.
1891 First drafts of the Kullervo symphony.
1892 Marriage to Aino Järnefelt.
1893 Birth of his first daughter Eva.
1894-95 Four legends from Kalevala op. 22 (the Lemminkäinen suite): Lemminkäinen and The Maidens of Saari, The Swan of Tuonela, Lemminkäinen in Tuonela, Lemminkäinen’s Return. Birth of his daughter Ruth.
1898 Birth of his daughter Kirsti (died in 1900).
1899 The first symphony. Music for the Press Celebrations of 1899.
1900 Sibelius finds a lifelong friend and supporter in Axel Carpelan. Carpelan proposes the name Finlandia for the finale to the Music for the Press Celebrations.
1901 Journey to Rapallo with his family, and from there to Rome and Prague, where he meets Antonin Dvorak. Meeting in Heidelberg with Richard Strauss, who notes in his diary: “Sibelius is the only Nordic composer with any depth.” Tone poem “En Saga”.
1902 Premiere of the second symphony. The cantata The Origin of Fire inaugurates the new Finnish National Theatre building. 1903 First version of the violin concerto. Birth of his daughter Katarina.
1904 Move to Ainola in Järvenpää. “All song dies within me in Helsinki,” Sibelius says.
1905 Revised version of the violin concerto. Visit to Berlin as a conductor (second symphony). remainder of the year visiting Great Britain.
1907 Premiere of the third symphony. Gustav Mahler visits Helsinki. 1908 Second journey to Great Britain. Work begins on the string quartet Voces intimae, which is completed the following year in London. Birth of his daughter Margareta.
1909 Acclaim in London (En Saga and Finlandia). Meeting with Debussy. Trip to the Koli region of eastern Finland with Eero Järnefelt: “One of the greatest experiences of my life.”
1910 Axel Carpelan succeeds in rescuing Sibelius from financial ruin.
1911 Premiere of the fourth symphony. Birth of his daughter Heidi.
1914 Journey to the USA. Honorary doctorate from Yale University. The Oceanides.
1915 First version of the fifth symphony. Premiered at a gala concert to mark Sibelius’ 50th birthday.
1917 Finland gains independence. The symbolic significance of the music of Sibelius grows still further.
1918 The Finnish Civil War. Red forces take control of Järvenpää. Sibelius and his family move temporarily to Helsinki.
1919 Song of the Earth, a cantata to mark the inauguration of Åbo Akademi university. Celebrations and meetings of artists. Final version of the fifth symphony.
1921 Visits by the composer-conductor to Great Britain and Norway.
1923 Premiere of the sixth symphony. Visits to Stockholm, Berlin and Rome. Aino Sibelius accompanies her husband on the journey.
1924 The seventh symphony. Sibelius conducts the premiere in Stockholm.
1925 Journey to Italy. Symphonic poem Tapiola.
1926 Music for Shakespeare’s play The Tempest.
1931-33 Awareness of the eighth symphony.
1957 While out walking in September Sibelius sees a wedge of cranes flying south and remarks: “Here they come, the birds of my youth!” On 20 September he has a stroke and dies in the evening. At the same time Malcolm Sargent is conducting the fifth symphony in the University Assembly Hall.
1957 Funeral service for Sibelius at the Great Church on 30 September. He is buried in the garden at Ainola.