I have long wanted to compose an homage to Jean Sibelius. However, his music is copyright protected in the EU for another five years or so. Thus, I struggled with how to compose a work without any direct musical quotations, and yet which in some way captures the essence of his symphonic music.
I had a breakthrough in recent weeks, and the result is an eleven-minute orchestral composition which manages to invoke his music without directly quoting it. The opening passage on which the piece is based invokes the opening of Symphony No. 6 without quoting it; also, my homage is in the key of A Minor whereas the symphony is in the key of D minor. The piece also invokes the orchestral colors of one of my other favorite pieces of Sibelius, The Swan of Tuonela. My composition is scored very closely to that one, but I ended up using two oboes; I never needed an English Horn, and I added two flutes to that scoring. Thus, the instrumentation is as follows: 2fl-2ob-1cl/bcl-2bn-4hn-3tbn-timp-bd-hp-str; the duration is ca. 11:30. My homage also invokes the more youthful compositions of the great master, and of course features his biggest personal influence, the sounds of nature.
Sibelius was a master of musical forms. He managed to create entirely original forms such as the one for Symphony No. 7. While I do not pretend to be in his league in any way, I did manage to compose a work in a four-part form, which is unusual, and not the least of which for me. The piece contains all kinds of indirect references to the music of Sibelius through the use of motifs, melodies, harmonies, ornamentation, and orchestration.
While not the most original piece of music I have ever composed (that would be The City In the Sea: Choral Tone Poem), my Homage to Sibelius is among the most subtle of my works in that it contains a good deal of variation technique, and a lot of attention to detail. Like my Homage to Vaughan Williams for string orchestra, the idea was not to break new stylistic ground, but rather to pay homage to the ground broken by the master.
More so than anything, my Homage to Sibelius invokes how the symphonic music of Sibelius makes me feel when I am listening to it. I hope you enjoy it.
HOMAGE TO SIBELIUS for Chamber Orchestra
Music by Stanley M. Hoffman (b. 1959 [BMI])
Inspired by the Music of Jean Sibelius (1865–1957)
NotePerformer 4 Audio and Scrolling Score Video Seeking Live Performances
© Copyright 2023 by Stanley M. Hoffman. www(dot)stanleymhoffman(dot)com
All rights reserved.
The sheet music is available from the composer and from Sheet Music Plus.