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Virtual Issue: Sibelius and Nielsen 150th Anniversary

This virtual themed issue of Music & Letters marks the 150th anniversary of the births of two great Nordic musicians, Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius. Often coupled casually together, the selection of essays and reviews gathered here reflects their very different critical trajectories in Anglo-American scholarship.

Sibelius’s music enjoyed a high profile from the mid-1920s onwards: the earliest articles in M&L; date from the beginning of the 1930s, following the publication of acclamatory accounts by writers such as Cecil Gray and Constant Lambert. The essays by Godard and Eliot offer indicative examples of the ways in which Sibelius’s symphonic works were reified and monumentalised, a process that later prompted T. W. Adorno’s famous critique of the composer (translated by Susan H Gillespie, in Jean Sibelius and his World, ed. Daniel M Grimley [Princeton, 2011], 331-337). David Cherniavsky’s account reflects contemporary debates about the performance of Sibelius’s music, which already benefitted from an extensive discography.

In contrast, serious scholarly interest in Carl Nielsen’s work, outside Denmark, had to wait until the publication of Robert Simpson’s monograph, which M&L; reviewed in 1953, before it gained momentum. Since then, critical coverage has been slow at times to respond to the continuing popularity of Sibelius and Nielsen’s music in the concert hall. M&L; has nevertheless reviewed the most important contributions to the field, and, as J.P.E. Harper-Scott’s brilliant account of Sibelius’s influence on William Walton’s First Symphony from 2008 demonstrates, a broader understanding of their richly diverse legacies and cultural contexts has finally begun to emerge.


Articles and Essays

Sibelius’s Second Symphony
Scott Goddard
Music and Letters (1931) 12(2): 156-163 doi:10.1093/ml/XII.2.156

The Sixth Symphony of Sibelius
J. H. Eliot
Music and Letters (1936) 17(3): 234-236 doi:10.1093/ml/XVII.3.234

Sibelius’s Tempo Corrections
David Cherniavsky
Music and Letters (1950) 31(1): 53-55 doi:10.1093/ml/XXXI.1.53

Sibelius’s Debt to Renaissance Polyphony
Lionel Pike
Music and Letters (1974) 55(3): 317-326 doi:10.1093/ml/LV.3.317

‘Tonality, Clarity, Strength': Gesture, Form and Nordic Identity in Carl Nielsen’s Piano Music
Daniel M Grimley
Music and Letters (May 2005) 86 (2): 202-233 doi:10.1093/ml/gci033

'Our True North': Walton's First Symphony, Sibelianism, and the Nationalization of Modernism in England
J P E Harper-Scott
Music and Letters (2008) 89 (4): 562-589 doi:10.1093/ml/gcn083


Review, ‘ Carl Nielsen. by Robert Simpson’
W. M.
Music and Letters (1953) 34(4): 337-338 doi:10.1093/ml/XXXIV.4.337

Review, ' Sibelius Vol. 1 , by Erik Tawaststjerna’
Lionel Pike
Music and Letters (1977) 58 (4): 462-463 doi:10.1093/ml/58.4.462

Review, ‘ Carl Nielsen: Danskeren , by Jørgen I Jensen’
David Fanning
Music and Letters (1993) 74 (1): 113-115 doi:10.1093/ml/74.1.113

Review, ‘ Carl Nielsens Samling: Katalog over Komponistens Musikhåndskrifter i det kongelige Bibliothek , by Birgit Bjørnum and Klaus Møllerhøj’
David Fanning
Music and Letters (1993) 74 (4): 608-609 doi:10.1093/ml/74.4.608

Review, ‘Carl Nielsen: Symphony no. 5 , by David Fanning’
Arnold Whittall
Music and Letters (1998) 79 (1): 137-139 doi:10.1093/ml/79.1.137

Review, ‘ Jean Sibelius: Dagbok , ed. Fabian Dahlström; Jean Sibelius: Poesie in der Luft by Tomi Maekelae; and Sibelius by Andrew Barnett'
D. M. G.
Music and Letters (2009) 90 (2): 298-304 doi:10.1093/ml/gcn104

Review, ‘ Carl Nielsen and the Idea of Modernism by Daniel M Grimley'
Arnold Whittall
Music and Letters (2012) 93 (1): 110-111 doi:10.1093/ml/gcr106

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