Sibelius made the trip to Bournemouth in February 1921 to conduct his work Finlandia, amongst others. One of his best loved pieces, Finlandia has its origins in political protest; the piece was written for a covert rally in support of freedom of the Finnish press in 1899 (which was at that point largely controlled by Tsarist Russia). The work evokes the national struggle of the Finnish people, reflected in its turbulent and rousing music and culminating in a calm hymn towards the end.

Jean Sibelius in his office (c)Helsingin kaupunginmuseo,Helsing

The BSO’s founder, Sir Dan Godfrey, had been a Sibelius enthusiast from the earliest days and regularly programmed his music here on the south coast. So respected was he by Sibelius that when pianist Max Pirani visited the composer at his home in Jarvenpaa, he was asked to bring back this personal massage to Godfrey “Give my affectionate greetings to Dan Godfrey. I shall always be grateful to him for the championship of my work.”

This connection between the Orchestra and the music of the great Finnish composer has remained strong over the years. In 1976 the BSO made a tour of Finland under the then Chief Conductor Paavo Berglund; performing at both the Helsinki Festival and at the world’s northernmost concert venue. The tour made a lasting impression on players and memorably also included playing Sibelius’ Symphony No.4 in the largest wooden church in Europe! Since this chapter in time Sibelius’s music has been truly ingrained in the fabric of the BSO. It’ll be an exciting moment this summer to play the piece exactly 100 years later…

To book tickets to hear Finlandia click here

To see our summer season press release click here