Symphony No. 7, Tapiola and the Overture to The Tempest, all Finnish premieres (cond. Kajanus)


Tapiola, premiered in New York with Walter Damrosch conducting in December 1926, came as a favourable surprise at its first performance in Finland in anyone “who has an ear to hear the voice of the wilds, for it speaks an unforgettable poetic language” enthused Heikki Klemetti in his Uusi Suomi review.

The incidental music for Shakespeare’s play The Tempest had also been premiered in March the previous year at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, but the seventh symphony had first been performed three years earlier in Stockholm, with Sibelius conducting. On that occasion it had gone by the name of “Fantasia sinfonica”.

Whereas for Helsingin Sanomat’s Leevi Madetoja the beginning of the seventh symphony, pining for eternity, had been “church music in the best sense of the word”, the works on the programme on 25th April 1927, and especially the symphony, were for Klemetti an enigma: “As problematic as their subject. If it was describing people; and if human ideas, just as confused, fading in the face of eternity.…Music is the most thought-provoking of all the arts. Especially the music of Sibelius.”

Text: Timo Virtanen
Picture: HPO's archive