SO hands up those of you who were thinking of a particular piece of music software originally written by the brothers Finn rather than a retiring reformed bald alcoholic who created music by slowly transforming thematic elements, and burned most of his unfinished works, including the fabled 8th symphony (what is the next version of Sibelius software going to be called? This does not bode well for the future).
Known by the typical Finnish and Swedish name “Janne” to his family, when he was a student he began using the French form of his name, “Jean”, inspired by the business card of his seafaring uncle. He went on to become Jean Sibelius, the world famous composer and champion of Finnish music as well as one of the most popular 20th century symphonic writers.
I recently revisited his symphonies which I love for their stirring orchestration and idiomatic style where motifs are transformed rather than juxtaposed in an almost anti-sonata manner.
Then I remembered this little bit of information – that his father, a doctor, played the guitar and was evidently fond of it. Jean, when he needed a break from massive orchestral writing, wrote many songs, including two, Opus 60, which have guitar accompaniment – these are arrangements of songs from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
Yes, the symphonic master wrote for guitar! Of course, the performance possibilities were extended by orchestrating the pieces and there is this wonderful recording of one by Kirsten Flagstad, the great Norwegian soprano, on a day off from singing Wagner.
The score used to be published by Breitkopf and Härtel, and both Kom nu hit, Död! and Hallila, uti storm och i regn do appear to be in their catalogue at the moment.
As a teaser, here is a small extract:, from which it is pretty evident that Sibelius knew about the guitar.
I hope this encourages someone to perform these, but please, please, don’t transcribe the violin concerto for guitar- just don’t do it, OK?