The history of the JSW project

The idea of a complete edition of Sibelius’s works surfaced probably for the first time in 1965, in connection with the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

The time was not yet ripe, however: the study of Sibelius’s music was still in its infancy, and not much was known of the surviving musical sources. A complete edition was needed, however, because the printed editions included many errors, some of them were out of print, and many works were still unpublished. The idea resurfaced in 1987, when the situation had changed: Helsinki University Library (currently the National Library of Finland) had received a donation from Sibelius’s heirs, including his archive of musical manuscripts (1982); Fabian Dahlström had published an up-to-date catalog of Sibelius’s works (1987); and Erik Tawaststjerna was finishing his extensive biography of Sibelius.

Kari Kilpeläinen compiled a catalog of Sibelius’s musical manuscripts held in the National Library of Finland. It was published in 1991 by the German publishing house Breitkopf & Härtel (B&H), also a major publisher of Sibelius’s works. B&H became interested in participating in the complete edition project, too. The National Library of Finland, which houses the largest collection of sources needed in the editorial work, became the publisher together with the Sibelius Society of Finland, which aims to promote performances of Sibelius’s works, as well as research and publishing activities related to his music.  

A publishing committee for the project was set up in December 1991. The committee discussed funding issues with the Finnish Ministry of Education and started negotiating practical issues with B&H. It was also necessary to turn to other copyright owners of Sibelius’s music, because B&H needed permission to publish works owned by others in order to carry out the project. The project was launched 1996. An editorial committee was appointed, with Professor Esko Häkli as chair, as well as an editorial board including expert members and the editor-in-chief as chair. The first editor-in-chief was Professor Emeritus Fabian Dahlström. The first editors, Jukka Tiilikainen, M.A. and docent Kari Kilpeläinen, started their work in early 1996. The first volume was published two years later (1998).

In a group photo (from left to right) Jukka Tiilikainen, Glenda Dawn Goss, Timo Virtanen, Kari Kilpeläinen, and Fabian Dahlström.
In a group photo from left to right Jukka Tiilikainen, Glenda Dawn Goss, Timo Virtanen, Kari Kilpeläinen, and Fabian Dahlström.

Two hired editors and one freelance editor worked on the project during the first years. Professor Glenda Dawn Goss was hired as editor in 2000; she succeeded Dahlström as editor-in-chief in 2000–2004. Timo Virtanen, DMus, has worked as editor-in-chief since 2004. At present there are two full-time and four part-time editors, as well as editors working on a freelance basis. In addition, the project has employed proofreaders and language revisers.

Esko Häkli, who had a central role in planning and launching the project, ended his period as chair of the editorial committee at the end of the year 2019. He was succeeded by Professor Gustav Djupsjöbacka at the beginning of 2020. The composition of both the editorial committee and the editorial board has undergone some changes over the years. 

The editors working in JSW have given presentations on issues related to the editing work at international conferences, and have published articles in international publications in the field of musicology. The project organized a symposium at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in 2007, with a focus on special editorial issues in the complete editions of Brahms and Sibelius. JSW had a central role in preparing a Sibelius exhibition at the Finnish National Museum during the 150th anniversary of his birth in 2015.

Esko Häkli ja Kari Kilpeläinen
Esko Häkli and Kari Kilpeläinen



Annual Administrative Reports

Annual Administrative Reports are available only in Finnish and Swedish.