Sibelius and I
Jagged brass chords, fragmentary winds, and piercing cries from the violins fill my inner landscape. On another bad day, a hundred years ago, in Karelia, he strains his ears to catch the polyphony of the wild falls of Imatra . “The sighing of the winds and the roar of the storms." The furies subside and the adagio begins.
Slowly a sombre horn
swells to some sunlit world
of strings and brass
Played at his funeral. To be played at mine.
An audience hissed; an orchestra refused to play. This confirmed the life-long self-doubt that plagued him .“ I am spoilt, superior and weak willed,” he lamented . Behind his whisky grin and big cigar, his shrinking ego.
On days when I feel I could tie an egg into invisible knots, I join his biggest and most boisterous orchestra in the pursuit of the daughter of Pohjola the magician. Careering along after Pohjola’s daughter how simple life is !
Late at night the pot boilers he composed to clear his debts. I conduct a huge orchestra playing Finlandia.. Or enjoy the schmaltzy kitsch of the Valse Triste :
the empty ballroom
of my cramped study
trumpet the whooper swans –
and the year turns
Lifting off from their grazings here beside our Dyfi estuary, the strong, steady beat of their wings. So it was with Sibelius, swept along by the flight of sixteen swans above his house at Ainola, one day in April, 1915.
One of my greatest experiences ! Lord God, that beauty !. Their call the same woodwind type as cranes, but without tremolo. The swan-call closer to the trumpet, although there is something of a saxophone sound. … Nature mysticism and life’s Angst ! The Fifth Symphony’s finale-theme: Legato in the trumpets !!
Life as symphony
strings and trombones
weave its coloured threads
Nothing had ever been heard before like this. Night after night the writing – and the drinking. In the morning his long-suffering wife Aino would remove the empties from beside the slumped figure. .
Music stripped to its bare essentials. A single river of sound, flowing through thematic twists and turns to the climax of a life complete.
Howling through my backwoods, ”ancient, mysterious, and brooding dreams” –- Tapio, the forest god. Just one short theme throughout, mounting to an explosion for the whole orchestra. All chords in the minor key. –- except the last.
The rest is thirty years of silence.. Lit by the fire of a “grand burning party” of all his scores in progress. The Eighthwas never seen by anyone but him.
outside my window
the brook murmurs on