Jean Sibelius – Symphony No. 2 Op. 43

The Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43, by Jean Sibelius was started in winter 1901 in Rapallo, Italy, shortly after the successful premiere of the popular Finlandia, and finished in 1902 in Finland. Sibelius said, “My second symphony is a confession of the soul.”
Baron Axel Carpelan, who gave Sibelius’ well-known tone poem Finlandia its name, wrote to the composer shortly after its successful premiere: “You have been sitting at home for quite a while, Mr. Sibelius, it is high time for you to travel. You will spend the late autumn and the winter in Italy, a country where one learns cantabile, balance and harmony, plasticity and symmetry of lines, a country where everything is beautiful – even the ugly. You remember what Italy meant for Tchaikovsky’s development and for Richard Strauss.” Although Baron Carpelan was penniless, he raised sufficient funds for Sibelius to stay in a mountain villa near Rapallo, Italy. Here, Sibelius jotted down the first notes to his second symphony.
More than a year after the first motifs were penned, the second symphony was premiered by the Helsinki Philharmonic Society on 8 March 1902, with the composer conducting. After three sold-out performances, Sibelius made some revisions; the revised version was given its first performance by Armas Järnefelt on 10 November 1903 in Stockholm. Oskar Merikanto exclaimed that the premiere “exceeded even the highest expectations.”

1. Allegretto
2. Andante, ma rubato
3. Vivacissimo
4. Finale. Allegro moderato

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