The WOW Files: Sibelius Composed His Mindblowing Symphony No.5 While He Was $500,000 Deep In Debt

by • March 12, 2013 • MusicComments (0)1827

Renowned composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) was a god in his native Finland, and to this day his birthday remains a national holiday.  Sibelius was so revered in his native homeland that he was bestowed with the most prized of all rewards — a government stipend.  Yes, Sibelius was given a government allowance, and a massive one at that.  Servants, maids, and chefs were a major presence inside Sibelius’s home, and even still he managed to rack up a huge debt.  In 1915 Sibelius was commissioned to write his fifth symphony by the Finnish government in honor of his 50th birthday, which had been declared a national holiday, so in 1915 he put pen to paper (he revised the symphony a year later in 1916 and once again in 1919).  But believe it or not, as Sibelius was composing his 5th symphony he was more than $500,000 in debt.  So the next time you get your credit card bill in the mail you can take comfort in the fact that you’re in much better shape than Sibelius was.  And even with all that financial pressure resting squarely on his shoulders he still managed to write the amazingness you’re about to hear.  And if you’re really pressed for time you can jump to the best part — the 3rd movement which begins at the 22:36 mark.  For more great stories from the world of classical music you can visit Classical Music on FEELguide.

Source: CBC Radio 2’s “Tempo With Julie Nesrallah”

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