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Jean Sibelius
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    (December 8, 1865-September 20, 1957)
    Born in Hameenlinna, Finland
    Birth name was Johann Julius Christian Sibelius
    Composed seven symphonies
    Also composed 'Finlandia,' 'Karelia Suite,' 'The Swan of Tuonela' and the opera 'The Maiden in the Tower'
    He adopted the French version of his first name.
    Despite a stipend from the government, he was frequently in financial trouble due to his extravagance and heavy drinking.
    For the last 30 years of his life, he published no new works.
    He apparently wrote an 8th symphony (fragments from it were discovered in 2011) then destroyed it, having told friends, 'If I cannot write a better symphony than my Seventh, then it shall be my last.'
    The music critic for the Washington Post wrote, 'There are two things to be said straightaway about Sibelius. First, he is terribly uneven.... Second, at his very best, he is often weird.'
    He was married to Aino Jarnefelt for 65 years until his death.
    Several of his compositions were inspired by the Finnish landscape and folksongs.
    British conductor/composer Constant Lambert called him 'the first great composer since Beethoven whose mind thinks naturally in terms of symphonic form.'
    He said about criticism, 'Pay no attention to what critics say. No statue has ever been put up to a critic.'
    Finland celebrates his birthday as 'the Day of Finnish Music.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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