A Comparative Analysis of the 1915 and 1919 Versions of Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 82 by Jean Sibelius

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The initial composition of the Fifth Symphony in E-flat Major, Op. 82 was undertaken as a commission to celebrate the composer's fiftieth birthday. Unhappy with the initial efforts, two revisions were then performed; the first was in 1916 and the final revision in 1919. Despite the larger form of the work seeming to have been changed between the 1915 and 1919 versions, the smaller gestures of thematic expression in both versions remained similar. On the surface, it had appeared that the composer had eliminated a movement, changing the 1919 version into a three movement form. This view was not challenged ... continued below

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Norine, John Richard, Jr. May 2010.

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  • Norine, John Richard, Jr.

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The initial composition of the Fifth Symphony in E-flat Major, Op. 82 was undertaken as a commission to celebrate the composer's fiftieth birthday. Unhappy with the initial efforts, two revisions were then performed; the first was in 1916 and the final revision in 1919. Despite the larger form of the work seeming to have been changed between the 1915 and 1919 versions, the smaller gestures of thematic expression in both versions remained similar. On the surface, it had appeared that the composer had eliminated a movement, changing the 1919 version into a three movement form. This view was not challenged by the composer at the time, and since the earlier versions had either been withdrawn or destroyed, there was no way to compare the original efforts to the final product until recently. In comparing the 1919 version to the original, a definite strong parallel can be seen between the two - despite the changes to form, rearrangement of melodic material, and the seemingly different number of movements. However, the parallel is enough that the 1915 version can be a guide to classifying the 1919 version, an act that has eluded many scholars since the 1920s. Most importantly, comparing the two versions shows that the 1919 version is not a three movement form at all; it is a four movement form that is obscured by the connection of the first and second movements by a thematic bridge that contains elements from both movements, but is not placed within either structure.

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  • May 2010

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  • Sept. 10, 2010, 1:20 a.m.

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  • Jan. 12, 2011, 12:47 p.m.

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Norine, John Richard, Jr. A Comparative Analysis of the 1915 and 1919 Versions of Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, op. 82 by Jean Sibelius, dissertation, May 2010; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28459/: accessed September 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .