I remember reading a story many years ago, that may have been apocryphal, yet remained with me all these years. It seems that during World War Two, while the Soviets were trying to defeat tiny Finland, and bring it back into the Russian fold - it had been a Grand Duchy in Czarist times, gaining its Independence in 1917 - (this is the 'Winter War', which the Soviets essentially lost, by the way!), an aged, semi-retired composer by the name of Jean Sibelius, would trudge out of his house, into the snow, taking his hunting rifle with him, and fire at the Soviet planes as they flew overhead. He was in his late 70s by then. And that struck me!
What a spunky old man!
Sibelius is best known outside Finland for a few works, among them Valse Triste, the Karelia Suite, and The Swan of Tuonela. But he is best remembered for "Finlandia", a nationalistic piece that was composed in 1899, then rewritten shortly thereafter as the final movement became something of a Nationalist Anthem for the Finns. I have a nice version of it below, from YouTube, with images and video of Finland.
orchestra:the Philharmonia Orchestra
The piece was composed for a patriotic pageant performed to mobilise popular opposition to the revocation of Finnish independence from the government of the Russian Empire.
Most of the piece is taken up with rousing and turbulent music, evoking the national struggle of the Finnish people. But towards the end, a calm comes over the orchestra, and the serenely melodic Finlandia Hymn is heard. Often incorrectly cited as a traditional folk melody, the Hymn section is of Sibelius' own creation.
Sibelius later reworked the Finlandia Hymn into a stand-alone piece. This hymn, with words written in 1941 by Veikko Antero Koskenniemi, is one of the most important national songs of Finland.
Incidentally, the 1990 film Die Hard 2 ends with Finlandia (the director, Renny Harlin is Finnish). Fans of the Die Hard films will probably recognize the music.
This is one of my Classical favorites! I hope you enjoy it, too. And enjoy the scenery during this hot summer.
And just to make sure you enjoy some nice music, here's Edvard Grieg's "Morning Mood" from the Peer Gynt Suite. I know you'll recognize it. As Wikipedia says:
"Morning Mood" (Norwegian: Morgenstemning) is a composition belonging to Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt suite. Used often in television commercials and motion pictures, the piece depicts the rising of the sun. Next to In the Hall of the Mountain King, Morning Mood is Grieg's most known work.
Contrary to popular belief, it was not meant to depict a sunrise over the Norwegian fjords. It was actually meant to depict a sunrise over the Sahara Desert.
Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway, on 15 June 1843. His ancestors were Scottish; the original family name was spelled "Greig". After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, his great-grandfather travelled widely, settling in Norway around 1770, and establishing business interests in Bergen. Grieg was raised in a musical home. His mother, Gesine, became his first piano teacher.