On the wall of the Yle classical music department is a framed letter dated August 26, 1955. Addressed to Mr Kai Maasalo at the Finnish Broadcasting Company, it expresses the warm thanks of composer Jean Sibelius for a series entitled The Symphony’s Tale he had “followed with great interest here at Ainola”.
Sibelius was a keen radio listener. For the radio allowed him to keep abreast of musical life in Finland and the world even in his secluded home, Ainola. The Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) will in turn be bringing the 2015 Sibelius jubilee to every Finnish home via all its media. We already have a lot to offer you, but new items will be steadily added throughout the year, so keep an eye on this site.
The jubilee year will build up to Sibelius’s birthday, December 8, 2015, but the celebrations will begin on the Yle channels on the first Saturday of 2015, January 3. On that day Yle will be broadcasting a live studio concert and running an evening devoted to vocal music, both on Radio 1.
Here at Yle we’ve been working on our biggest Sibelius jubilee TV projects for over a year already. In the autumn, the Teema channel will be featuring the seven Sibelius symphonies. These will be presented by Hannu Lintu, who will also conduct the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. An animated eight-part Sehän on Sibelius! (That’s Sibelius!) mini-series scripted by Minna Lindgren and directed by Piia Hirvensalo will be looking at the man behind the music and his life.
The TV jubilee celebrations begin in February with a ballet based on the Kullervo Symphony as the fruit of a new partnership between Yle and the Finnish National Opera. Choreographed by Tero Saarinen, the ballet will be televised live on the Teema channel on February 27 and shown later on the Arte channel in Germany and France.
Sibelius’s four seasons, on the radio and online, will include an evening about birds at his home, Ainola, in May and a ‘shadow birthday party’ on August 12 going out into the streets and parks. Autumn will culminate in a Christmas present-making session in the run-up to Christmas.
The radio will be reviving some of the legendary talks about music by the great Sibelius expert and biographer Professor Erik Tawaststjerna (1916–1993), while another series (Kohti Sibelius) will take a look at the arts, science and society in which the young lad from Hämeenlinna took his first steps along the road to becoming a composer. A present-day composer, Osmo Tapio Räihälä, will be examining the Sibelius symphonies in a series of programmes called Sinfoninen takaja (Symphonic Smith).
Yle will also be telling the international community about the Sibelius jubilee through TV programme sales and the EBU. One of the events broadcast worldwide via Euroradio will be the Lahti Sibelius Festival at the beginning of September.
In February, M-studio will be airing new studio programmes about Sibelius’s chamber music and small-scale compositions. His birthday on December 8 will be preceded by the exciting two-week Violin Competition bearing his name, for which there will be comprehensive Yle media coverage from the first round right through to the finals.
There were many sides to Jean Sibelius, as indeed there are to people in general. We do hope that we can, over the coming year, offer you an opportunity to form your own up-to-date image of the composer whose 150th birthday we are now celebrating. We also intend to play a lot of his music – music in which there is always something new for each and every one of us to discover.