Lot 149
  • 149

Sibelius, Jean

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
221,000 GBP
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  • Sibelius, Jean
  • The Autograph Manuscript of the Symphonic Fantasia "Pohjolan Tytär" (“Pohjola’s Daughter”), op.49, signed “Jean Sibelius” 
  • paper
with autograph title in German: "Eine sinfonische Fantasie, frei nach dem finnischen national Epos Kalevala", the Stichvorlage, marked by and for the printer, a working manuscript in places, with several pages pasted together concealing early working, some corrections, alterations and deletions in ink, notated in black ink on up to thirty staves per page; alterations and additions in pencil and blue crayon, rehearsal letters in red ink

57 pages, large folio (35.5 x 27cm), [1906], together with an autograph draft of the poem in German "Pohjola’s Tochter" ("Wainämoinen, alt und wahrhaft, fährt auf seinem Schlitten heimwärts…"), with alterations and revisions in red and black ink, 2 pages, 4to (c.28 x 21.5cm); the music manuscript unbound, some browning and staining, some paper-loss not affecting the text, some pastedowns;

Catalogue Note

MAJOR AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPTS BY SIBELIUS ARE OF THE UTMOST RARITY AT AUCTION. No manuscript of this importance and calibre has appeared on the market for over ten years. With most of Sibelius’s autographs in institutional libraries in Finland, this is a rare opportunity to acquire the manuscript of one of his finest works.


With the contemporary Third Symphony, Sibelius’s great symphonic poem Pohjola’s Daughter is regarded as a key work in his output. In the symphony, the composer reduced the musical argument to its tightest, most compact form. In this respect, Sibelius is almost the musical opposite of Mahler, who famously wished to “include the world” in his symphonies. Sibelius might well have intended the same, but using different, opposite means. Pohjola’s Daughter follows these principles in its intense economy of expression and extreme beauty of its utterance.

It uses a story from the Finnish epic Kalevala, which had provided the inspiration for the majority of Sibelius’s symphonic poems. Sibelius wrote in in 1906, an annus mirabilis, with the revised Violin Concerto behind him (see next lot) and with the incidental music to Pelléas et Mélisande (see lot 151) and Belshazzar’s Feast also completed in that year. The composer was also planning out his Third Symphony. Critics regard Pohjola’s Daughter as one of the masterworks in the symphonic repertoire, on a level with Strauss’s Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel of the previous decade. The work is scored for a Straussian-size orchestra, with harp, percussion and two cornets in addition to the normal complement of orchestral instruments. Hence the need for music paper with 30 staves. The idea of calling it by the present title was his publisher’s Robert Lienau. Sibelius favoured Väinäimöinen, which Lienau regarded as somewhat daunting to market. It is interesting to note that neither title is used by Sibelius here: he calls it simply “Eine sinfonische Fantasie”. Perhaps he was hoping to leave the choice of title until the last moment.

Although a Stichvorlage is usually a fair copy, Sibelius’s autograph cannot be described so simply. There are a number of unlifted paste-downs which presumably contain cut material beneath, and many revisions to the orchestration are added in pencil in the score. It is a working manuscript in places, an important staging post on the way to the final version, the first edition.