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Three cantatas by Jean Sibelius Published in First Editions

Date published
The latest volume of the complete critical edition of Jean Sibelius Works includes four cantatas for choir and orchestra. Three cantatas of the four included in the volume have now become available for the first time, as the orchestral score for Impromptu (Op. 19), Sandels (Op. 28), as well as Islossningen i Uleå älv (Op. 30, The Breaking of Ice in Oulu River) remained unpublished during the composer’s lifetime.

Sibelius revised Islossningen i Uleå älv both before and after the first performance. These bars were crossed out before the premiere.

“Often only the choral parts were printed during those times, as copying sheet music for each chorister would presumably have been too time consuming. The conductor and orchestral players, however, used handwritten copies instead, says Doctor of Music Sakari Ylivuori, who edited the volume. 

The only cantata in the volume that has been published before is Snöfrid (Op. 29), which appeared in 1929. However, the first edition was not based on the composer’s autograph manuscript, but on a later handwritten copy, which contained several inaccuracies and downright errors. 

“These inaccuracies and errors ended up in the first edition. Luckily, both the autograph manuscript and the later copy have survived. Based on them it has been possible to deduce at which point each discrepancy originated, and therefore it has also been possible to correct the errors, says Ylivuori.


Further information: 

Sakari Ylivuori 
Jean Sibelius Works 

The National Library of Finland 
P.O. Box 15 
00014 University of Helsinki, Finland 
+358 44 560 3407

The project Jean Sibelius Works begun in 1996 and aims to publish Sibelius’s production in its entirety in editions based on the thorough study of all surviving sources. The latest volume is the 31st in the series. Jean Sibelius Works is published by the National Library of Finland, the Sibelius Society of Finland, and the publishing house Breitkopf & Härtel (Wiesbaden).