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Sibelius
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About the Author

Andrew Barnett is founder and chairman of the UK Sibelius Society. He lives in Brighton, England.

Reviews

In this illuminating survey of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), Barnett, founder of the U.K. Sibelius Society, attempts "to place Sibelius's music in context by discussing all of his surviving works." The book benefits from the ambitious project of the Swedish record company BIS to record everything in its Complete Sibelius Edition, an undertaking in which Barnett has been closely involved since the mid-1980s. He traces the life of the composer from his early music lessons (violin, piano, cello) as a youth in Hameenlinna, Finland, and his first serious attempts at composition during the 1880s to the recognition of his talent at the Helsinki Music Institute (now the Sibelius Academy) and further studies in Berlin and Vienna, followed by the 1892 success of his first major orchestral work, his prolific creations over the following decades and his dwindling output after 1927 when he wrote in his diary, "Abused, lonely, all my real friends dead. Just now my prestige here is non-existent. Impossible to work." In 1935, however, his status "as an international icon was secure." Incorporated throughout is Barnett's in-depth analysis of Sibelius's compositions, a critique so finely tuned that many readers will want to listen as they read. 16 b&w illus. unseen by PW. (Dec.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"Andrew Barnett is unfailingly perceptive and has the ability to engage the interest of both the less informed and the more expert reader. Few would be better qualified to undertake a new book on the Finnish master."-Robert Layton, author of Sibelius (Master Musicians Series)

-- Robert Layton
"A book of great importance: a fresh, evenhanded account of the composer, especially of his early years. . . . A welcome antidote to the seesaw of critical attention from uncritical admirers and excessively harsh critics. . . . Highly recommended."-Choice * Choice *

"Barnett neatly dispels other myths, explaining how from around 1930 to his death, Sibelius completed briefer works while striving, unsuccessfully, to complete his Eighth Symphony. . . . A warmly humanizing, informed biography."--Benjamin Ivry, The Newark Star-Ledger -- Benjamin Ivry * The Newark Star-Ledger *

The recent availability of many of Jean Sibelius's letters and diaries, along with more comprehensive catalogs of his music-including early compositions about which little has been previously known-make this new biography of the Finnish composer a thorough update to earlier accounts of his life and work. Barnett, whose expertise has contributed to the Sibelius Edition recordings from BIS Records and the International Sibelius Festival, has two explicitly stated goals-to place the composer's complete catalog, insofar as it is known, in the context of his life and to lay to rest certain perceptions that he judges inaccurate based on newly available evidence. He accomplishes the first and makes persuasive arguments for the second, in particular offering diligent analyses of Sibelius's underrated chamber works and of his later compositions. Although intended for the general music lover, this book is also a useful supplement to academic music history collections; suitable for public and academic libraries.-Genevieve Williams, Pacific Lutheran Univ. Lib., Tacoma, WA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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