10. … and after Sibelius?

Two of Sibelius’ protégés: Leevi Madetoja (1887-1947) and Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928–2016). Madetoja actually studied with Sibelius for two years between 1908 and 1910 (not a great success – rather like Haydn and Beethoven – their sessions were sporadic and Sibelius wasn’t a natural teacher). Sibelius’ support of Rautavaara was less significant, consisting mainly of a recommendation to fund a state scholarship for Rautavaara to study in the Juilliard School in New York, which the young composer duly received.

All three of Madetoja’s symphonies are worthy of attention. The first was a significant success, and the second – a darker work over which the Finnish civil war of 1918, with its personal losses (his brother) and national tragedy, cast its shadow – was hailed as an equal to the symphonic works of Sibelius

After the threnodic second symphony, the third with its generally optimistic, pastoral nature comes as something of a surprise:

Leevi Madetoja:
Symphony No. 3 in A

Andantino [00:00]
Adagio [07:21]
Allegro (non troppo) [15:25]
Finale. Pesante, tempo moderato [24:24]

Rautavaara is a composer who, unlike Sibelius, managed to reinvent himself, adapting to the changing musical ‘isms’ of the twentieth century (neoclassical, serial, romantic, mystic). The Seventh is his penultimate symphony and part of a series of works based around the Duino Elegies of Rainer Maria Rilke:

Wer, wenn ich schriee, hörte mich denn aus der Engel Ordnungen?
… Ein jeder Engel ist schrecklich

[If I cried out, who heard me from among the angelic orders?
… Every angel is terrifying]

Einojuhani Rautavaara:
Symphony No. 7

Angel of Light

00:01 Tranquillo
12:07 Molto allegro
17:59 Come un sogno
28:15 Pesante, Cantabile

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as “fair use”, for the purpose of study, and critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of the copyright owner(s).