Symphony No. 5 (Sibelius)

Symphony No. 5 (Sibelius)

Symphony No. 5 (Sibelius)

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Symphony No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 82 is a major work for orchestra in three movements by Jean Sibelius.


Sibelius was commissioned to write this symphony by the Finnish government in honor of his 50th birthday, which had been declared a national holiday. The symphony was originally composed in 1915. It was revised first in 1916 and then again in 1919.

The original version was premiered by Sibelius himself with the Helsinki City Orchestra on his own 50th birthday, 8 December 1915. The second version (only part of which has survived) was first performed by the Orchestra of Turun Soitannollinen Seura in Turku exactly one year later. The final version, which is the most commonly performed today, was premiered by Sibelius conducting the Helsinki City Orchestra on 24 November 1919.

The 1910s were a decade of change for the symphonic form which had existed for over a century. In 1909 Schoenberg continued pushing for more dissonant and chromatic harmonies in his Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 16. From 1910-1913 Igor Stravinsky premiered three revolutionary ballets The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps). Ravel and Debussy were at work developing and performing their Impressionistic forms. And in 1911 the premiere of Richard Strauss's opera Der Rosenkavalier further pushed music toward a new style. Though having spent nearly 30 years in the public spotlight, Jean Sibelius found his works receiving poor reviews for the first time with the...
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