Sibelius's arrangements for voice and piano can be divided into three groups, as follows: (I) Six songs are arrangements of songs from incidental music: Sången om korsspindeln (op. 27 no. 4), Kom nu hit, död! (op. 60 no. 1) and Hållilå uti storm och i regn (op. 60 no. 2); also (no opus number) De trenne blinda systrar, Den judiska flickans sång and Solitude. (II) Four songs are arrangements of works for voice and orchestra: Arioso (op. 3), Kullervo's Lament (op. 7), The Rapids-Shooter's Brides (op. 33), Luonnotar (op. 70) and Autrefois (op. 96b). (III) The song Siltavahti is an arrangement of a choral song.
Sibelius's large output of incidental music includes a great number of songs, some of which he later arranged for voice and piano. Sibelius composed his first incidental music in 1898 for the play King Christian II, which was written by his close friend Adolf Paul. The only vocal number of the incidental music, Sången om korsspindeln (The Song of the Cross-Spider), is performed by the jester. Sibelius arranged this song for voice and piano as early as 1898. Out of all Sibelius's songs this has remained one of the most popular in the male vocal repertoire.
De trenne blinda systrar is from Sibelius's incidental music to Maurice Maeterlinck's famous play Pélléas and Mélisande. Sibelius arranged Mélisande's Song for voice and piano in 1905 and the publisher Robert Lienau published it in the same year.
Den judiska flickans sång (1907) and Solitude (1939) are both arrangements of the same song, which was originally written for Hjalmar Procopé's play Belsazzars gästabud (Belshazzar's Feast). In the second act of the play this song is performed by an unknown Jewish girl. Sibelius presumably wrote the first version of Den judiska flickans sång for voice and piano in 1907, but he returned to the song about thirty years later, in 1939. This was when he wrote a second version, Solitude, which he dedicated to the American contralto Marian Anderson.
Sibelius composed two songs for Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. These are Kom nu hit, död! (Come Away, Death!) and Hållilå uti storm och i regn (Hey, Ho, The Wind And The Rain) (op. 60 nos. 1 and 2). In the play, both songs are sung by the jester accompanied by the guitar. The arrangements for voice and piano were written in the autumn of 1910 at the latest (this was when Breitkopf & Härtel published both the original works and the arrangements). Sibelius made a further arrangment of Kom nu hit, död! for voice and orchestra in 1957.
Sibelius also took works he had originally written for voice and orchestra and arranged them for voice and piano. The earliest of such arrangements was Kullervo's monologue Kullervos Wehruf (1893; translation by Anton Schiefner). This was taken from the end of the third movement of Kullervo (Op. 7, 1892), but adapted as a German translation. In 1918 Sibelius wrote yet another arrangement of the song, using the original Finnish text but with the title Kullervon valitus (Kullervo's Lament). In both arrangements the tremolo of the piano aims at an orchestral effect.
The romantic ballad (op. 33) for baritone and orchestra, Koskenlaskijan morsiamet (The Rapids-Shooter's Brides), was based on a poem by A. Oksanen or August Ahlquist, and performed for the first time in 1897. In the first public performance the soloist was the bass baritone Abraham Ojanperä. The arrangement for voice and piano was probably written at the same time, although it was not completed until 1899. The piano part of the arrangement with its octave runs in the manner of Liszt is one of the most masterly that Sibelius composed.
Arioso for voice and string orchestra (op. 3; words by Runeberg) was completed in 1911. The piano part of the arrangement strives to follow the polyphonic string texture of the original work. Luonnotar (Op. 70) for soprano and orchestra was created in the same year that Arioso was published, i.e 1913. The arrangement for soprano and piano was written tgether with the original work, and Aino Ackté used the manuscript of the arrangement as a rehearsal score. Ackté considered the work extremely difficult. Her opinion is also evidenced by the original manuscript: here and there one can see the markings which she made in order to grasp the difficult melodies of Luonnotar.
The duet Autrefois for two voices and orchestra dates from 1919. The arrangement for voices and piano was presumably made the same year. This arrangement remained unpublished during the 1920s – in fact, it stayed with the publisher and was not discovered until Helsinki University Library bought the composer's manuscripts from the Hansen family in 1996. It was only then that the work was restored to the concert repertoire.
Siltavahti (The Bridge Keeper; words by Väinö Sola) is an arrangement of a choral song which Sibelius composed in 1927 for a choir of Finnish immigrants in New York (New Yorkin laulumiehet).