Discovered – first fragments of Sibelius's destroyed 8th symphony

Discovered – first fragments of Sibelius's destroyed 8th symphony


norman lebrecht

November 15, 2011

My colleagues in Helsinki are torn between exultation and tears. A scholar has found what looks like a draft of the eighth symphony that Sibelius destroyed, and the music has been rushed down to the new concert hall for an impromptu performance.

Is this the sound of Sibelius's lost Eighth Symphony?

Read all about it here in the English edition of Helsingin Sanomat, by Vesa Siren, and listen to three fragments on video (if the links work). The conductor is John Storgårds.

This could be the biggest musical discovery of the 21st century.


  • Jack says:

    These stories are always of great interest to musical scholars, but, for the rest of us, this is not going to be all that important. After all, Sibelius himself surely knew that neither he, nor anyone else, could possibly top his seventh symphony. Anyone who has listened to the Sibelius seventh a few times knows what I’m talking about.

  • Eddi Haskell says:

    I am not a musical scholar but a Sibelius fan. The opening sketch from this movement is sublime, and clearly a progression from the rest of Sibelius’es work. The simple sketches cannot, of course, top his sublime 7th symphony and final great symphonic work, Tapiola (which he could have called his 8th symphony), but are wonders in themselves — a taste of what may be discovered as more of his surviving manuscripts come to light.

    Sibelius destroyed his main 8th symphony in a fire1945, in a bout of supreme depression, perhaps as a consequence of learning about the final solution as has been conjectured, or perhaps in realization of his own mortality; will will never know . He did say in the 50’s, contradiction, in his final years that manuscripts have survived. Whatever the case, these are amazing sketches and will be of enjoyment to anyone who listens to them.

    • Peter Frankland says:

      Listening to these fragments sent goose bumps down my spine. Strange sounds but pure Sibelius and so modern sounding. We can still hope that the parts of the 8th symphony that Paul Voigt copied out in the 1930’s might still come to light. Sibelius might just have topped No. 7 with this work. His excessive self-criticism led to its destruction. He might have burnt Tapiola if Walter Damrosch had not got hold of it!