Jean Sibelius : progressive techniques in the symphonies and tone-poems
As an analytical and critical survey of Sibelius' symphonies and tone-poems, this study is designed to fill a significant gap in the research of this composer which hitherto has been primarily concerned with historical and musicological issues. Those analytical investigations which exist, typically as a supplement to more biographical concerns, have not made use of modern techniques nor are they comprehensive. Beyond this self-evident purpose of processing analytical findings, the thesis aims not only to demonstrate a symposium of Sibelius' compositional techniques but also to give a new perspective to these achievements. The layout and presentation of material has been designed to facilitate this dual purpose, dispensing with a mere catalogue of analyses in favour of grouping their findings into considerations of larger issues. Thus, Part I - 'The Symphonies' - reflects the layered analytical approach to each work in chapters which move from the general to the particular (Style, Form, Tonality, Thematic Process) selecting examples from the entire genre appropriate to each issue. The final chapter in this section concludes by synthesising those areas in a detailed analysis of a single work. Part II - 'The Tone-Poems' - opens with a more general discussion of the two genres in question revealing cChtrasts and consistencies. Thereafter, their survey divides into two apparently chronological sections, though in fact the distinction is a stylistic one and complements internal considerations of the symphonies themselves. The application of reductive, layered analysis appears to be new in this context and its findings reveal a more progressive compositional attitude than has previously been credited to a figure generally viewed as reactionary. Its evidence, notably in the areas of extended tonality and formal compression, suggests an historical placing for Sibelius within twentieth-century musical developments, indicating both his awareness of the problems facing composers of the period and his personal solutions. The final chapter discusses this essentially speculative topic, its more subjective standpoint balancing the analytical objectivity which constitutes the majority of the thesis. Its conclusion is modest: Sibelius as neither reactionary nor revolutionary, but, nevertheless, progressive.