Archive for Jean Sibelius


Posted in History, Music with tags , , , , on December 6, 2017 by telescoper

Today marks the 100th anniversary of Finland’s Declaration of Independence from Russia, which took place on 6th December 1917.

To celebrate the occasion here is  Finlandia by Jean Sibelius from this year’s Proms, performed by the BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo.

Happy Independence Day to Finns everywhere, and especially to my friends and colleagues in the world of physics and astronomy!

Sibelius of the Rings

Posted in Film, Music with tags , , , , , on May 13, 2014 by telescoper

My frame of mind for the day is largely determined by what is playing on BBC Radio 3 when it switches on at 6am as it does every morning to wake me up. This morning it happened to be the rousing Intermezzo from the Karelia Suite by Jean Sibelius. An intermezzo is very often a piece of fairly nondescript music played while people change the sets on stage during an opera or theatre performance, but this one is actually a terrific piece in its own right.

Often when the radio switches on when I’m asleep I don’t actually wake up immediately, but somehow seem to be able to incorporate the music into a dream. As I slowly emergedfrom my slumbers this morning my half-asleep mind somehow put this music together with a sort of action replay of the Ride of the Rohirrim, as Theoden’s army arrives to relieve the siege of Minas Tirith from The Lord of the Rings; the preamble fits well with the riders and horses gathering into line and preparing for battle, and the main theme conjures up the subsequent cavalry charge in rousing fashion.

My lunchtime task today has therefore been to find a clip of the film on Youtube and see how the music works. I suggest you turn the sound off the film clip (first youtube link) and let it run until about 58s in before starting the second which has the actual music on it. That way the peak of the crescendo and loud cymbal crash in Sibelius’ score coincides with the impact of the charge upon the orc formation.