Symphony No. 1, The Song of the Athenians & Music for the Press Celebrations


Symphony No. 1, Athenares sång (The Song of the Athenians)

His first symphony placed Sibelius in the same league as Beethoven and the other great symphonists. It was a tremendous success. The Song of the Athenians, in which, according to Uusi Suometar, Sibelius had “found a gem in inventing the melody for this song”, became a veritable cult work.

Music for the Press Celebrations

The closing tableau in a gala performance held in support of freedom of the press following the February Manifesto was Finland Awakes, later renamed Finlandia, with its rousing introduction. The critics wrote that the music of Sibelius fittingly illustrated the events portrayed in the tableaux, but according to Uusi Suometar, it was “just a pity that so much of it got lost in the general hubbub, and all in all the audience did not seem to fully grasp it was hearing more profound art”.

Not a single critic could foresee or suspect the world fame that would subsequently be reaped by the music of that closing tableau.

Text: Timo Virtanen
Picture: HPO´s archive