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Title: Relating the past : Sibelius, Aalto and the profound logos
Author: Menin, Sarah Clare
ISNI:       0000 0001 2448 8678
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 1997
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This thesis seeks to demonstrate the relationship between the lives and works of Jean Sibelius and Alvar Aalto. It is divided into three parts. Part one opens with an introductory chapter which establishes the theme of 'relation'; a theme that runs through the whole work. This is taken, in part, from Sibelius repeated reference to the "profound logos" through which elements in his work were related. The chapter includes an explanation of the Greek word logos, one meaning of which is'to relate'. The second chapter explores Sibelius' and Aalto's common context, identifying a characteristic 'lack' in Finnish cultural and social history. In chapter three the Karelian/ Kalavalaic context is demonstrated to have grown from the 'lack', but to comprise a deep, rich essence of thematic variation. The relationship between the Finnish 'lack' and that culture's take up of classicism and modernism is then explored in chapter four. In so doing the chapter seeks to demonstrate why Sibelius is more appropriately linked to Aalto than to his friend and contemporary, Saarinen. In chapters five and six the thesis moves to the personal realm, establishing a congruence between the socio-cultural'lack' and the personal 'gap' which characterises Sibelius' and Aalto's childhoods. Part one of the thesis concludes that Sibelius and Aalto had a common need to relate the past and the present (both their culture's and their own), and that this need resulted in a certain, common pattern of creativity. The second part of the thesis explores the phenomenon of the Finnish forest, which was a core influence on the creativity of both men. In chapter seven Finns understanding of the cultural, philosophical and psychological significance of the forest is examined. Chapter eight links this to the conclusions of part one, suggesting that the forest was also a phenomenon through which Sibelius and Aalto related divided elements of themselves and of their culture. Evidence of the effect of this on their work is presented in chapter nine. Part two of the thesis concludes that the forest was a common transitional phenomenon in the lives and works of Sibelius and Aalto. The third part of the thesis explores the philosophical precedents which Sibelius and Aalto share. Chapter ten opens with an examination of their common interest in the Ancients and xix the relationship between this source and Sibelius' and Aalto's thinking about the production of form, and the relation of such created form to processes of life and growth. This includes an examination of the Greek notion of harmony, its relation to order, and Ancient notions of life as a organism which interested both Sibelius and Aalto. Chapter eleven establishes the method by which their common interest in nature's growth process, evident within their composition, will be examined. Chapter twelve undertakes this analysis. The final two chapters analyse philosophical notions of becoming, technique and creativity with the process of creating and relating form in Sibelius' music and Aalto's architecture. The centrality of their search for harmony or unity - the relation of disparate elements - in both Sibelius' and Aalto' work is thereby demonstrated. In the final chapter this compositional relation is brought together with the notion established in part one; i. e., that the need to relate elements of experience (the cultural 'lack' and the personal 'gap) compelled and empowered the process of Sibelius' and Aalto's creativity and the nature of the resultant musical and architectural form. The thesis concludes that there are important relations between Sibelius' and Aalto's lives and works. These relations are profound attempts to fill the cultural 'lack' and the personal 'gap', drawing on the divided nature of their personal past as the motivating 'urge' with which to reorder fragments (i. e., vernacular fragmentary traditions, split-off parts of the self or small elements of creative form) into a harmony or even unity. The thesis demonstrates that the common tools which were requisitioned for this were experience and knowledge of nature's growth process, knowledge of vernacular culture, and inspiration from the Greek notion of creating harmony.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: British Academy ; Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation ; Quaker Travel Bursary ; Finnish Government Scholarship Organisation (CIMO)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Philosophy Philosophy Religion Literature Mass media Performing arts Architecture