Sibelius's The Tempest
If by your art, my dearest father, you have Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them. The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch, But that the sea, mounting to the welkin's cheek, Dashes the fire out. ~ Miranda to her father, Prospero, in The Tempest
Jean Sibelius's later works, his Seventh Symphony, Tapiola, and, today's featured piece, incidental music for The Tempest, are masterworks. The orchestral textures are rich, dense, frothy, clear, containing pure and contradictory natures throughout, not unlike Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest. Also not unlike Prospero, Sibelius, at the height his powers and late in life, found himself in a place where his powers languished. He would not write again after these late works, though he would live another 30 years. In the 1940's, his music and thoughts of composition became unbearable. He set his manuscripts in a laundry basket, placed the vessel in the dining room, and lit it on fire.