Sibelius Andrew Barnett

Publication date:
22 Feb 2010
Yale University Press
464 pages: 235 x 156mm
16 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

The most balanced and complete biography of Sibelius to date, published on the 50th anniversary of the great composer’s death

Informed by a wealth of information that has come to light in recent years, this engaging biography tells the complete story of the life and musical work of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). Drawing on Sibelius’s own correspondence and diaries, contemporary reviews, and the remarks of family and friends, the book presents a rich account of the events of the musician’s life. In addition, this volume is the first to set every work and performable fragment by Sibelius in its historical and musical context. Filling a significant gap, the biography also provides the first accurate information about much of the composer’s early music.

Writing for the general music-lover, Andrew Barnett combines his own extensive knowledge of Sibelius’s music with the insights of other scholars and musicians. He lays to rest a number of myths and untruths—that Sibelius wrote no chamber music of value, for example, and that he stopped composing in 1926 and didn’t need to compose to earn a living. Barnett completes the volume with the most thorough worklist available and an authoritative chronology of Sibelius’s entire output.

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

"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)

"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

“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