WSMR Quarterly Issue Reports - Q1 2020

Evening Masterwork: the Symphony No. 2 by Sibelius

Jean Sibelius (1865 – 1957)

Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 43 by Jean Sibelius

Evening Masterwork for August 15, 2019 – 7:00 PM on Classical WSMR 89.1 and 103.9

In the early-part of the 20th Century, composers like Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and Bartok were doing pioneering work in forms outside of the symphony. The symphony was the most important genre for Jean Sibelius’s musical thoughts, though. The composer began sketches of his Second Symphony while on a trip to Italy, at a time when Sibelius’s name was associated with the icy fjords and bitter cold of Finland.  The work is a bit sunnier than works that came before it, which listeners at the time attributed to his stay in Italy. The Symphony is also an unconventional work for the form: it is bold, and it staked out new territory for Sibelius, which he would come back to at later points in his career.