Sibelius, Jean Julius Christian (zhän yōˈlyŏs krĭsˈtyän sĭbāˈlyŏs) [key], 1865–1957, Finnish composer. Sibelius was a highly personal, romantic composer, yet at the same time he represents the culmination of nationalism in Finnish music. He studied in Berlin (1889) and with Karl Goldmark in Vienna (1890). Although Sibelius wrote chamber, piano, violin, and choral music, he is best known for his orchestral works. These include tone poems on national subjects, such as En Saga (1892; rev. 1902) and Finlandia (1900); The Swan of Tuonela (1893; from the suite Lemminkainen ); Valse triste (1904); a violin concerto (1903); and seven symphonies (1899, 1902, 1907, 1911, 1915, 1923, and 1924). His works express an intense, mystical love of nature, often conveying the brooding melancholy of his country's northern landscape. In his symphonies he adapted traditional form to his individual manner of building upon short motifs. These themes, while always original, have come to be regarded as folk music. In 1897 he was awarded a lifetime grant by the state which permitted him to devote his career to composing.
See biographies by K. Ekman (tr. 1938), E. Arnold (1941), H. Johnson (1959), and G. D. Goss (2009); J. Burnett, The Music of Jean Sibelius (1983); F. Tammaro, Jean Sibelius (1984); R. Layton, Sibelius and His World (1970) and Sibelius (3d ed. 1993); G. Rickards, Jean Sibelius (1997); D. Hurwitz, Sibelius: The Orchestral Works (2007).