State funeral for a great composer

State funeral for a great composer


norman lebrecht

May 02, 2015

sibelius funeral

Christopher Russell, who has come across this footage, wonders if this was the last time a nation paid full honours to a dead composer.

Was any of our readers present at the ceremony?


  • Philip Jongeneel says:

    I was not present at the ceremony, but saw it on TV as a 16 year old in the Netherlands. I was deeply impressed by the funeral honors given to a composer. This impression has stayed with me though out my life. Sibelius’ music has also been a constant companion. Thank you Christopher Russell for this clip from 1957.

  • Bob Hunka says:

    “WAS” any of our readers?…

  • Michael says:

    In comprehensible and unpedantic current English English usage you should write “Was any one of our readers…” or “Were any of our readers….” The latter is obviously better – it sounds better and the questioner clearly hopes for more than one response!

  • SDReader says:

    Shosty, 1975.

  • Alexander Brown says:

    This article gives rise to an interesting question: has any composer since then deserved a State funeral? It is a question that I hesitate to answer, but perhaps readers would like to suggest some names…

    • Jan de Jong says:

      Olivier Messiaen should have had one.

      Witold Lutoslawski as well.

      Wojciech Kilar (film music composer) got one in Katowice Cathedral a couple of years ago.

  • Ricardo Odriozola says:

    The great Norwegian composer Harald Sæverud (17.4 1897 – 27.3 1992) was given a state funeral on April 6th 1992. During WW2 he had been one of the few prominent Norwegian artists with an unequivocal anti-Nazi stance. His famous work “Kjæmpeviseslåtten” (The Ballad of Revolt) became a symbol of the resistance, albeit after the War, when it received its premiere. If you are not familiar with this composer, look him up! He is one of the XXc greats, still waiting for a fair international reappraisal.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      An American correspondent writes:
      Bela Bartók died in 1945 in New York, where he was buried. Once Hungary was free from Nazi or Communist rule, the government asked that the U.S. disinter his remains so that they could be brought home for burial. On 7th July 1988, his body was buried in Budapest with a state funeral.

      In 1998, the composer Alfred Schnittke died in Germany on 3rd August, & was was honoured with a state funeral in Moscow on 10th August.

      • Lisa Renee Ragsdale says:

        Considering how he was treated during his lifetime, I am surprised that Alfred Schnittke was honoured with a state funeral in Moscow! And we hear so little of his music in concert halls. Only his choral music is given the respect that he deserves.

  • Tom Snyder says:

    While not the most recent, I think Shostakovich was buried with high state honors, this during the Soviet era.

  • Eetu Karhu says:

    Greetings from Finland!
    Sibelius was our countrys greatest son. Far greater than any of our statesmen and his music made finnish people independent!

  • Eetu Karhu says:

    Young finnish composers were carring Sibelius casket. One of them was Einojuhani Rautavaara…

  • Eetu Karhu says:

    Wikipedia doesn´t mention state funeral, only civic funeral…