Viides sinfonia

Symphony No. 5


3A1.mp3 = Original version, 1st movement: Tempo tranquillo assai (excerpt from the beginning) | 3A2.mp3 = Final version, 1st movement: Tempo molto moderato – Allegro moderato (excerpt from the beginning)
Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä, cond.

To make a living during the war years, Sibelius composed a large number of miniatures for the domestic market. He had started sketching his Fifth Symphony in 1914, but had been unable to compose it because "smaller" works were occupying the majority of his time.

Finnish publishers were not interested in the symphony, and it did not even gain acceptance from Wilhelm Hansen in Denmark: they told him that in wartime it was only possible to publish piano music and songs.

Because of other compositional commitments, work on the Fifth Symphony proceeded slowly. It was, however, completed in time for the composer's fiftieth birthday celebrations, in the context of which it was premièred in 1915.

Although the symphony received an enthusiastic welcome, the composer himself was not happy with it. This is also revealed by an indication written in the first violin part "To be burned". The Fifth Symphony tormented Sibelius for the remainder of the decade.

A revised version was performed in 1916, and the third and final version, nowadays the best-known of the three, was completed and premièred in 1919. Right from the first bars, the first and final versions of the symphony differ markedly from each other.

The most conspicuous changes concerned the overall form: the first version consisted of four movements, whereas the final one has just three. In the final version Sibelius combined the original's first two movements in a manner that is regarded as very significant both within his own production and indeed in symphonic literature as a whole.