Sibelius: what his copyist knew

Sibelius: what his copyist knew


norman lebrecht

November 17, 2011

Amid the excitement surrounding the discovery of fragments of Sibelius’s missing eighth symphony, a mystery figure emerges from the woods.

Paul Voigt, a German violinist and sometime player in the Helsinki Philharmonic was Sibelius’s trusted copyist – that is to say he received scores in composer scrawl and transcribed them in a neat hand that could be read by an editor and printer. Little is known of him except that he was a loner who never married, living in the  Töölö district of Helsinki. When he fell sick, he mo ved in with his house cleaner and he husband. On his death in 1943, they inherited what little he left.

This included some Sibelius letters and other material.

We know he copied at least 23 pages of the eighth symphony. What became of them? Here’s Vesa Siren’s report. Anyone who knows more about Paul Voigt, please get in touch. Let’s hear it for the humble copyist.