Sibelius - Andante festivo
Type of Spiritual Experience
In 1907, Sibelius underwent a serious operation for suspected throat cancer. The impact of this brush with death has been said to have been profound and inspired works that he composed in the following years.
A description of the experience
Jean Sibelius: Andante festivo
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Mariss Jansons
The 'Andante festivo' was written for string quartet in 1922 shortly before the Sixth Symphony. The composer later expanded it for string orchestra with 'ad lib' timpani, and on 1 January 1939 he conducted a performance in Helsinki for short-wave radio transmission to the World Exhibition in New York. This performance was preserved on wax as a poignant historical memento. It was the last time Sibelius conducted, and is the only known recorded exemple of his conducting. The noble, seamless melody is as close as he came to a religious statement. There are, in addition, intriguing suggestions of Dvorak's Symphony 'From the New World' (or is it 'God Save the Queen'?) and Sibelius' own later Seventh Symphony, and an unmistakeable final 'Amen' cadence.
(c) Robert Dearling, 1993