Come Away, Death!

6B1.mp3 = Come away, Death!
Jorma Hynninen, baritone; The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Jorma Panula, cond.

Sibelius's creative well did not run dry after Tapiola, The Tempest and the other significant works from the late 1920s. The last arrangement that Sibelius made was of the song "Kom nu hit, död!" ("Come Away, Death!", 1909): in May 1957 he arranged its original guitar accompaniment for orchestra (strings and harp).

Sibelius suffered increasingly from shaky hands, which can be seen in his handwriting from the 1910s onwards and which, after the mid-1930s, became so severe that he was forced to write in pencil or crayon rather than ink.

The sketches for the orchestral version of the song "Come Away, Death!", which he tried to produce in the year of his death in 1957, provide moving evidence that it ultimately became physically impossible for Sibelius to write music.

Because the elderly composer was no longer able to write down the music legibly himself, he dictated it to his son-in-law, the conductor Jussi Jalas. One page of sketches for the orchestral song in Sibelius’s own hand has survived from 1957. "Come Away, Death!" was performed on 14th June 1957 at the Sibelius Week in Helsinki.