Christmas songs and duets

Miscellaneous Songs

Christmas Songs

The Five Christmas songs (op. 1) were composed over a considerable period, 1897-1913. Most of the songs, with the exception of Det mörknar ute (no. 3), were in fact composed for community singing at Christmas rather than for solo performances. The last two songs in the collection, Julvisa (Give me no splendour, gold or pomp; words by Topelius) and On hanget korkeat nietokset (High are the Snowdrifts; words by Wilkku Joukahainen) are among the most popular Finnish Christmas songs, whereas the first two . Nu står jul vid snöig port and Nu så kommer julen (both by Topelius) are rarely performed.

Late Songs

Sibelius wrote his last solo songs in the 1920s (though he subsequently made two new arrangements: of Siltavahti and Solitude). The last songs, Små flickorna and Narciss, were composed to texts by writers who belonged to Sibelius's circle of friends. Små flickorna (words by Hjalmar Procopé) was completed in 1920 and published in the same year in the Christmas magazine, Lucifer. The song is Sibelius's only real song in the salon style, and the idea of the poem - the easygoing life of girls working in the city - is unique in the texts used by the composer. Sibelius's career as a solo song composer actually ended with the song Narciss, composed in 1925. It is based on a poem by his friend Bertel Gripenberg (1878-1947). Not only the theme but also the style of this song very closely resembles the flower songs, opus 88.


Sibelius composed only two duets for voice and piano: Tanken (words by J. L. Runeberg), and Mummon syntymäpäivänä (On Grandmother's Birthday; author unknown) Sibelius wrote both duets for family gatherings. Tanken was composed for the silver wedding (in June 1915) of Aino Sibelius's brother, the painter Eero Järnefelt, and his wife Saimi Järnefelt.
At the celebration the duet was performed by the Järnefelts' daughter, Leena Järnefelt, along with Sibelius's eldest daughter Ruth. The singers were accompanied by Aino Sibelius.

Mummon syntymäpäivänä (On Grandmother's Birthday) was presumably composed for the 80th birthday celebration of Sibelius's mother-in-law, Elisabeth Järnefelt (1919). The writer of the poem is unknown, but to judge from the text he or she was probably from the family circle.