Publication Details

Schultz, A. N.. Sibelius Cycle Preconcert and Radio Talks (4), Sydney Symphony/Ashkenazy, Sydney Opera House. November. 2004.


It Is interesting to consider the connection between hardship, suffering and turmoil in a composer's life and the capacity to create superb symphonic work. The three great symphonists of the early twentieth century show this even though they had radically different approaches to their work. Mahler was not crippled by his numerous personal tragedies but drew on them to create symphonies of transcendent scale. Shostakovlch lived through vast social and political upheaval and had to struggle to survive the Soviet system yet created public statements in his symphonies that are by turns bizarre, Ironic and triumphant. Sibelius also lived through Immense national and International upheaval, family hardships and tragedies and Intense Inner struggles yet created a personal series of lUCid and evocative symphonies of expressive range. All three composers emerged with quite different models from a nineteenth century tradition that saw the symphony as an abstract but communicative form. A form in which musical logic Is more Important than the descriptive or depicting writing of t1he tone poem or program music. The nature of the form allows t1he translation of lived experience into profound musical thought. The symphony as a genre craves the condition of the abstract almost as a release from the mundane and the personally painful.

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