The Swan of Tuonela
by Kenny Moon
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
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The Swan of Tuonela (Tuonelan joutsen) is an 1895 tone poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The story behind it is a legend from the Kalevala epic of Finnish mythology.
The tone poem is scored for a small orchestra of oboe, cor anglais, bass clarinet, bassoon, 4 horns, 3 trombones, timpani, bass drum, harp, and divisi strings. The cor anglais is the voice of the swan and its solo is one of the most famous in the orchestral literature. The music paints a gossamer, transcendental image of a mystical swan swimming around Tuonela, the island of the dead. Lemminkäinen, the hero of the epic, has been tasked with killing the sacred swan, but on the way he is shot with a poisoned arrow, and dies himself. In the next part of the epic he is restored to life.
The Swan of Tuonela was originally composed in 1893 as the prelude to a projected Wagnerian opera called The Building of the Boat; Sibelius revised it two years later as the second of the four sections of the Lemminkäinen Suite (Lemminkäis-sarja) , also known as the Four Legends from the Kalevala, Op. 22, which was premiered in 1896. Sibelius revised the tone poem twice: once in 1897, and again in 1900.
Disney also planned to use the piece in a segment of Disney's Fantasia. It was planned out in storyboards, but was never animated and was not included in the film.
The Swan of Tuonela is also illustrated on the cover art of the Amorphis album Silent Waters from 2007.
THE SWAN OF TUONELA
Many swans look like the Children of Lir,
humans under a witch's spell.
My swan is a legendary swan from Finland.
It's been floating about the canal for weeks.
I'm watching for any airs and graces,
listening for violin music, the tone poem of Sibelius.
You can order a plate of meatballs
and admire the Rolf Lidberg
paintings on the walls.
Mama troll has a big pot of soup on,
daddy troll is cutting up the venison.
There's herring, eggs and porridge -
you'll eat well at the troll kitchen,
and it's all organic to my knowledge.
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|Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan
|clever little writes! enjoyed!
|Reviewed by Kate Burnside
|I can't get over our transglobal wavelength today, darlin Ken; REALLY REALLY amazing, cos I've just been listening to all the items which will feature alongside the premier of the Titanic piece, composed by Ian Wilson, for which I have written the choral part to be performed at a centenary commemoration in Belfast at the Ulster Hall, 17.2.12. Sibelius' Swan of Tuonela is one of them, together with Wagner's Overture The Flying Dutchman, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto and Hebrides Overture: Calm sea and prosperous voyage, completing the list! How about that!!?? I'm getting butterflies just thinking about it, the music is so lush. It may even be broadcast live on Radio 3. Thanks for filling me in on the background, which I had not a clue about... And think of me when you see that canal washerwoman old duck, too! :)) Great to hear from you - I owe you mail, I know... xxx|
|Reviewed by Christine Tsen
|Hilarious and prolific!
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|Thank you for this lovely lesson, Kenny. I appreciate it. Love and peace to you,
|Reviewed by Kathleen McDonald
|Reviewed by Bonnie May
|What delightful images you created with these two wonderful writes...well done my friend...love, Bonnie|