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Sibelius 150

The fourth symphony was, at its premiere on 3rd April 1911, an even more bewildering and dumbfounding experience than the third, and Helsingin Sanomat made only a brief mention of “a work altogether surprising in the melodic and harmonic sense”. The other items on the programme were, however, favourably received. After the concert, Aino Sibelius said people avoided her eye, shook their heads and gave her embarrassed or surreptitiously ironical smiles, and the maestro himself told Jussi Jalas 30 years later: “The first time I performed my IV Symphony, not a single person applauded; no one came to congratulate me. Only Eero Järnefelt, to whom it is dedicated, came up to me and said, “Come on, we’re going to the Seurahuone [a Helsinki restaurant].”

Text: Timo Virtanen
Photo: HPO´s archive