Penn Library

Marian Anderson: A Life in Song

Jean Sibelius

While on tour in Helsinki in 1933, Kosti Vehanen arranged for Marian Anderson to visit the home of Jean Sibelius. Vehanen had been coaching Ms. Anderson in the performance of Sibelius's songs and wanted the composer to hear her extraordinary voice for himself. Sibelius was entralled with Ms. Anderson's renditions of his works and reportedly exclaimed "my ceiling is much too low for your voice." And Marian Anderson made a point to record the event in a dated note [displayed above] that indicates not only what she sang for Sibelius but also his reaction.

Sibelius attended Marian Anderson's Helsinki recital soon after and, although the two never met again, in 1939 he dedicated a song to her. "Solitude" was a revision of his "A Jewish Girl's Song," originally composed as part of the incidental music for Hjalmar Procope's play, Belshazar's gästabud ("Belshazzar's Feast"), first performed in 1906. The following year Sibelius published a concert suite derived from the incidental music and re-titled the song "Solitude." This unpublished version for voice and piano, with its Swedish text, became a standard part of Marian Anderson's repertory and survives in the composer's autograph copy seen below.




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Last update: Wednesday, 11-Jul-2012 11:24:24 EDT
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