Sibelius Festival 2016 Dima Slobodeniouk, conductor
The Symphony No. 4 is one of seven completed symphonies composed by Jean Sibelius. Written between 1910 and 1911, it was premiered in Helsinki on 3 April 1911 by the Philharmonia Society, with Sibelius conducting. For this work Sibelius reversed the traditional classical positions of the second and third movements, placing the slow movement as the third. He also begins the piece with a slow movement instead of the traditional fast opening movement (this is the same order as many baroque orchestral works). A typical performance lasts between 35–40 minutes. Many commentators have heard in the symphony evidence of struggle or despair. Harold Truscott writes, "This work ... is full of a foreboding which is probably the unconscious result of ... the sensing of an atmosphere which was to explode in 1914 into a world war." Sibelius also had recently endured terrors in his personal life: in 1908, in Berlin, he had a cancerous tumour removed from his throat.