Listen here to Sibelius world premiere

Listen here to Sibelius world premiere


norman lebrecht

May 27, 2021

This is last night’s unearthed overture, played only once before in 1900. Finnish critics are calling it ‘ a sensational discovery’.

You see it here first (outside Finland).


  • John Borstlap says:

    Nice piece. It has a touch of English landscape music.

    But if it were not by Sibelius, nobody would have taken the trouble to dig it out and give it any attention.

  • J Barcelo says:

    Thanks for posting this! It was wonderful. No masterpiece, but thoroughly enjoyable. Hope it makes it to CD soon.

  • Minnesota says:

    Very pleasant music but not top drawer Sibelius. Probably why he put it in a bottom drawer.

  • La plus belle voix says:

    The provenance of the work is unusual in that there is no discrete score. When Tuomas Hannikainen leafed through the composer’s original MS of and parts to the opera “The Maiden in the Tower”, he started to question why certain passages bore additional markings. This ‘new’ overture turns out to be merely a series of extracts from the opera and is actually ensconced in its entirety within the operatic score. The opera has its own overture proper. Thus, the discovery is of a ‘concert overture’ to the opera and would seem to be the so-called “The Maiden in the Tower Overture”, allegedly premiered in Turku on 7 April 1900 and conducted by Sibelius himself.

    As for style, well, the overture runs the gamut from Offenbach to Tchaikovsky, and there are even hints of Karelia at several points. The brass chorales are certainly attributable to Bruckner. Musicologically speaking the work is quite interesting, as a concert work less so perhaps, but certainly worth an outing within the context of, say, a Sibelius festival or series of works by Nordic composers.

  • Patrick says:

    A remarkable work — though it does sound a bit like it was assembled by a computer, based on Sibelius-inspired algorithms.

  • Christopher Beynon says:

    This is from Sibelius’s opera “The maiden in the tower.” I have heard it before. There is a recording on the BIS label.

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Just to make clear, the “overture” on the BIS recording is a stand-alone piece, notated in full in the MS. The work recently discovered is the “concert overture”, comprising various excerpts from the score and marked up as such.

  • Clefwalker says:

    Why the stupid book title?

    • Joel Lazar says:

      An infamous diatribe from a Marxist Schoenberg disciple of the mid-20th century….often alluded to but I think rarely quoted beyond its title…never translated out of the original French.

      • Clefwalker says:

        I understand, just didn’t like that it was used to define this piece, since it looks like it was written by someone who didn’t like Sibelius at all…

  • Joel Lazar says:

    Charming piece, would be delighted to program it, and will look for its emergence in a publisher’s catalog down the line. I don’t hear any English landscape, myself.