The Maiden in the Tower

A rare Sibelius score sees the light of day

Although known mainly for his symphonies and other orchestral scores, Sibelius also wrote extensively for the theatre, incidental music for eleven plays in all, and for the voice, over a hundred songs. His Kullervo Symphony also includes a large-scale operatic central movement and there is a substantial body of choral music.

Sibelius toyed with various operatic projects throughout his life, but apart from The Maiden in the Tower, the only work to survive is an orchestral prelude for the abandoned opera The Building of the Boat, which became The Swan of Tuonela. The failure of this one surviving opera to find a place in the repertoire can largely be laid at the door of the rather melodramatic Victorian libretto by Rafael Herzberg about a maiden saved from a predatory bailiff.

Most of the interest in the opera actually sits in the orchestral score and one critic reviewing the premiere wondered why Sibelius “had thrown away such good music on so simple a yarn”. And this is where Tuomas Hannikainen’s orchestral suite comes in, rescuing for the concert hall an extensive orchestral score from the mid 1890’s which shares the same sound world as the Karelia Suite while also anticipating much of the mastery for creating atmosphere and passion which is a hallmark of so much of his incidental music such as Pelléas and Mélisande and The Tempest.

We are honoured to give you the opportunity to hear the UK premiere of Hannikainen’s skilful orchestral arrangement, revealing such a Sibelian treasure.

5. Maiden
28-30 October 2015
St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow
Book Tickets >

Part of the The Nielsen + Sibelius 150 Series.