Celebrating Scandinavia: Melbourne commemorates the 150th anniversary of Sibelius & Nielsen

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The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra presents the 150th anniversary concert for two Nordic music masters: Sibelius and Nielsen, with a program of some of their most-loved works, conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier.

The concerts centre on Sibelius’ majestic Finlandia, often considered the composer’s best known work, but not without its controversy. Written for celebrations in 1899, it was a secret protest against the increasing censorship in Finland implemented by the Tsarist Russian Empire and was not originally performed under the title it is now known by.

Following the uprisings of the Finnish people, the melodic Finlandia Hymn, from the last movement of the piece, quickly became an unofficial national anthem and has remained so ever since. It is also associated with folk singer Joan Baez, who recorded the hymn for an Amnesty International album of protest songs.

Just as Sibelius is often thought of as ‘Finland’s composer’, Nielsen is so ingrained in the culture of Denmark, with his compositions deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of the country. The MSO is joined by regular collaborator Kolja Blacher for a performance of Nielsen’s only Violin Concerto.

The concert also features two additional well-known Sibelius works: The Swan of Tuonela and his Symphony No.5, with its soaring ‘swan theme’ finale.
Kolja Blacher returns the following week to direct the Orchestra in Brahms & Tchaikovsky: a night of European classics, featuring Bartók’s Divertimento, Brahms’ Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.

Blacher said: ‘I am delighted to be returning to this wonderful city and to my colleagues in the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. It’s a city that loves its music and I look forward to performing some fantastic pieces whilst I’m here.’

Blacher has been a regular MSO soloist since his debut with the orchestra in 2001 and is known for his ‘lucid yet subtle interpretations’ (The Australian). Born in Berlin, Blacher has in recent years focused on performing as soloist and conductor, working in this capacity with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia as well as the MSO.

Date: Thursday 19 & Friday 20 November at 8pm
Venue: Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
Tickets: $45 – $149 *subject to change
Bookings: mso.com.au or 03 9929 9600

Thursday 26 November at 8pm & Saturday 28 November at 6:30pm
Melbourne Recital Centre
Friday 27 November at 8pm
Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University
Tickets: $70 – $133 (26 & 28 November) & $44 – $79 (27 November) *subject to change
Bookings: mso.com.au or 03 9929 9600


Media enquiries: Isobel Pyrke, Publicity Co-ordinator, 0448307710 / 039 626 1151 pyrkei@mso.com.au