Finlandia / Karelia & Lemminkain
The fame of Jean Sibelius rests on his orchestral works, mainly his seven symphonies and the Violin Concerto. He also wrote several symphonic poems, the most important of which are his first major work Kullervo, Op. 7, symphonic poem for soprano, baritone, male voice choir and orchestra which is enjoying a new wave of popularity today; the romantic En Saga, Op. 9, the earthy Karelia Suite, Op. 11, the Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22, based on the Kalevala myths, Finlandia, Op. 26, which became the symbol of Finland's struggle for independence and then of Finland as a nation, and the monumental Tapiola, Op. 112, which was his last major work. The significance of Sibelius for the music not only of Finland but the whole of Europe was encapsulated by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, who wrote in a letter to Sibelius: 'You have lit a candle that will never go out.'