“A symphony is not just a composition in the ordinary sense of the word,” Sibelius wrote in 1910. “It is more a confession of faith at different stages of one’s life.” If the Fourth is a confession, its composer might have been on the verge of suicide. Yet, like so many Romantics before him, Sibelius took a perverse pleasure in surrendering to melancholy, and finding joy in darkness. “Joyful and sorrowful,” he wrote in his diary. In his next symphony, he set himself the goal of bringing to the surface the joy inherent in creation.
This chapter (as well as the table of contents which Mr. Ross gives us in this post) points to a challenging and provocative read when the book appears in October.