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Finlandia

Composer: Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) 
Arranger: Mort Shafer (1931-2009) 
Instrumentation: French Horn Quartet (includes Treble Clef and Bass Clef parts for Horn 4) 
Performance Time: 7:00
Price: $12.00

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PMP1-MMS-20-068

$12.00

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Finlandia is probably the most widely known of all the composition of Jean Sibelius. Most people with even a superficial knowledge of classical music recognize the melody immediately. The penultimate hymn-like section is particularly familiar and soon after it was published the Finlandia Hymn was performed with various words as far afield as the USA. It was composed for a patriotic pageant performed to mobilize popular opposition to the revocation of Finnish independence from the government of the Russian Empire. 

The Fair at Sorochintsy is a comic opera in three acts. He worked on the opera between 1874 and 1880, but upon Mussorgsky’s death, in 1881, the opera remained unfinished and unperformed. Several subsequent composers and editors played partial or maximal roles in bringing the work into a performable state. César Cui is credited with bringing most of the opera to its completion. The first staged performance, with spoken sections, occurred in 1913; beginning in 1917, the first of several fully sung versions reached the stage. 

A recurrent joke with Finland at this time was the renaming of Finlandia at various musical concerts so as to avoid Russian censorship. Titles under which the piece masqueraded were numerous, a famously flippant example being Happy Feelings at the awakening of Finnish Spring. 

Most of the piece is taken up with rousing and turbulent music, evoking the national struggle of the Finnish people. But towards the end, a calm comes over the orchestra, and the serenely melodic Finlandia Hymn is head. Often incorrectly cited as a traditional folk melody, the Hymn section is of Sibelius’ own creation. 

Sibelius later reworked the Finlandia Hymn into a stand-alone piece. This hymn, with words written in 1941 by Veikko Antero Koskenniemi, is one of the most important national songs of Finland (though Maamme is the national anthem). With different words, it is also sung as a Christian hymn (Be Still, My Soul), and was the national anthem of the short-lived African state of Biafra (Land of the Rising Sun). 

The 1990 film Die Hard 2 ends with Finlandia, certainly influenced by the movie’s director Renny Harlin, who is Finnish.

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