Fragment of Jean Sibelius sculpture in Helsinki, Finland
Celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birth, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra will play Saturday, 24 January, three works by Jean Sibelius: Karelia Suite Op 14; the Violin Concerto in D minor, Op 47; followed by Symphony No 1 in E minor in the second half of the evening.
Born 8 December 1865, Johan Julius Christian Sibelius, representative of the late Romantic period in music, is among the most important Finnish composers.
Sibelius was born at a time when the Duchy of Finland was incorporated into the Russian Empire. As he grew up, Sibelius's dreams of freedom nurtured his most beautiful compositions, such as the iconic symphonic poem titled Finland. Throughout his life, the composer drew inspiration from Finnish folklore and legends, poetry and literature, and reached out to surrounding nature.
Originally titled Karelia Music, the Karelia Suite is among the most popular compositions by Sibelius, echoing with nationalistic and folkloric accents. The Karelia Music consists of an overture followed by 10 tableaus, while the suite comprising three movements is a shortened version of the Karelia, compiled by the composer after the unsatisfactory reception of the large composition at its premiere in 1893.
Composed in 1904, the technically demanding Violin Concerto in D minor is the only larger work that Sibelius wrote for violin and orchestra. Though at the time of its premiere, it was well received by violinists, audiences took time to appreciate the cold Nordic breeze intercalated with its emotional warmth. Bearing in mind that Sibelius himself was a violinist, the concerto excels in combining instrumental brilliance with well-balanced emotional content.
The violin soloist will be Anastasia Chebotareva from Russia. Born in 1972 in Ukraine, Chebotareva graduated from the Moscow Conservatory and became the soloist of the Moscow State Philharmonic while still a student. She made her first international appearance at the age of 16. She has been described by critics as "a violinist with a distinguished and surprising beauty of sound" and characterised by "technical confidence, strong artistic personality, deep sensitivity and musical thought."
The evening will close with Symphony No 1 in E minor, a composition that premiered in 1898 to great acclaim among audiences and critics alike. The composition gave Sibelius his international breakthrough.
The concert Saturday commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius is one of many events in a series that accent great composers. Among more recent celebrations were concerts dedicated to Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach and the 300th anniversary of his birth anniversary.
Works by Sibelius will be conducted by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra's principal conductor and artistic director, Ahmed El-Saedi.
Saturday, 24 January, 8pm
Cairo Opera House, Main Hall