Symphony No. 8
6A1.mp3 = Late fragment HUL 1325
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, John Storgårds, cond.
The years of the "silence of Järvenpää" were by no means a silent time in terms of Sibelius’s creative instinct, as is shown by the extensive sketch material that has survived from the last decades of his life. Sibelius may have been working on his Eighth Symphony from the late 1920s onwards. In 1927, according to the composer himself, two movements were ready and the rest was "ready in my thoughts".
In 1931 Sibelius worked on the symphony in Berlin and wrote home that work was progressing "with great strides". The following year, however, he started to announce delays, one after another. But at least something was completed: Sibelius delivered some of the work to his copyist Paul Voigt, and commented on the results in a letter from 1933. After that, almost all references to the composition of the Eighth Symphony vanished, and nowadays it is presumed that he destroyed everything pertaining to the symphony in the 1940s.
The fate of the Eighth Symphony is regarded as one of the great mysteries in musical history. The only thing that can be stated with certainty is that all that remains of the Eighth Symphony is a sketched score page and a melody fragment found among sketches for the Seventh Symphony. On one side of the sketch are traces of the words "Sinfonia VIII" and "Commincio" ("Beginning"), written in pencil and subsequently erased. On the other side is a score fragment, consisting of two bars for oboe, bassoon, horn, viola, cello and double bass, plus a couple of bars of jottings, apparently for woodwind and horn.