Sibelius’ richly romantic Fifth Symphony was written by Finland’s greatest composer just before his country finally achieved independence and nationhood in 1917. Sibelius claimed the best-loved tune from this work was inspired by seeing a flight of wild swans over the countryside near his home in Finland. He was haunted by this connection. This program reveals how Sibelius developed these ideas into his original version of the Fifth Symphony before he decided to withdraw the work and recompose it into something very different. This presentation explores the creative musical processes: in this case how a composer finds the material for a symphony and then builds upon it, from his initial sketches into a full-blown masterpiece for orchestra.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Gerard McBurney, narrator
Kevin Gudahl, voice of Sibelius
Recorded at Orchestra Hall in May, 2009