Unique Sibelius manuscript collection rescued to the National Library of Finland

  • Jean Sibelius
  • Jean Sibelius Works
The large collection contains a variety of manuscripts belonging to nine works. The material’s total scope is more than 1,230 pages, and the centrepiece of the collection are the remarkable scores notated in Sibelius’s own hand. The collection also includes a score constructed from proof sheets of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto annotated in pencil by Richard Strauss.

The collection originates from the German Lienau publishing company, which published a number of Sibelius’s key works in the first decade of the 20th century, including his Violin Concerto, Symphony No.3, symphonic poems Pohjola’s Daughter and Night Ride and Sunrise and the string quartet Voces Intimae. The newly acquired material includes manuscripts belonging to all these works except Pohjola’s Daughter, the manuscript of which was sold at auction in 2016.

At the heart of the collection are the remarkable scores notated in Sibelius’s own hand. These include the autographs of Voces Intimae, Eight Songs, Op. 57 and the incidental music piece Svanevit. Other interesting material in the collection reveals, among other things, which parts of Symphony No.3’s four-handed piano arrangement are in the hand of the Swiss composer Paul Juon and which in the hand of Sibelius. The collection also contains a curiosity: a score constructed from proof sheets of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto that Richard Strauss used when conducting the first performance of the revised version of the piece in 1905 in Berlin. The score contains notes made in pencil by Strauss.

Critical research material and a piece of irreplaceable national heritage

The manuscripts are critically important to research and the world of music but they are also valuable pieces of cultural and national heritage. Nowadays, Finland does not grant licences to export Sibelius’s manuscripts. The material is preserved in ideal conditions in the National Library of Finland for current and future generations of researchers and musicians. “Sibelius’s manuscripts draw researchers and musicians from around the world to the National Library. They are an endless source of research data and inspiration. Researchers like myself are thankful to everyone who had a part in bringing the manuscript collection home to Finland,” says editor-in-chief of the works of Sibelius, Professor Timo Virtanen, who works at the National Library.

Bringing the manuscripts to Finland would not have been possible without the grants and donations given for the purpose. The acquisition was funded by the Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation, Louise and Göran Ehrnrooth Foundation, Elsa Fromond and three other private donors.

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Jean Sibelius Works (JSW) is an international publishing project that is the only one of its kind in Finland. The project, which has been underway since 1996, aims to publish the entirety of Sibelius’s compositions in editions based on thorough research of the available sources. JSW offers both data for researchers and a basis for performances of Sibelius’s works. Once complete, the publication series will total 60 volumes.

For further information
Editor-in-Chief, Professor Timo Virtanen
Jean Sibelius Works (JSW) project
National Library of Finland
timo.virtanen@helsinki.fi
+358 40 5094 773

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