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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for any Sibelius enthusiast!
I rate this work highly, and do not agree with reviewers who say it concerns itself only with the music of the Finnish Master. True, Barnett gives exhaustive detail about just about everything Sibelius wrote (or re-wrote) and arranged but this was, after all, what Sibelius was all about. To be bluntly honest, Sibelius offers little or nothing to a reader who is after...
Published on 8 Sep 2011 by Jim Wakeford/Op. 11 No.1

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading
For some mysterious reason this book is marketed as a biography. What it is in fact is a catalogue of every work the composer ever wrote, with maybe an explanatory line or two to put the piece in the context of what he might have been doing at the time. Sibelius the man remains merely a makeshift life-support system to the writer's main concern, the body of work...
Published on 9 Aug 2010 by Tod Hackett


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for any Sibelius enthusiast!, 8 Sep 2011
This review is from: Sibelius (Hardcover)
I rate this work highly, and do not agree with reviewers who say it concerns itself only with the music of the Finnish Master. True, Barnett gives exhaustive detail about just about everything Sibelius wrote (or re-wrote) and arranged but this was, after all, what Sibelius was all about. To be bluntly honest, Sibelius offers little or nothing to a reader who is after personal saucy details: he was straight, happily married, faithful, and had six daughters (one of whom died in infancy - Barnett details all of this). He had a drink problem earlier in life, but that's hardly mindblowing in these times. So it's hardly surprising that Barnett's work is so full of the music - but he still details just about everything the reader might need to know about the man, his country and his world.

As for the music, Barnett throws some light upon the "Eighth" Symphony and also discusses much of his (until now) obscure music such as "Snofrid" and "The Wood Nymph": if you are not familiar with these, then the sooner you "discover" them the better. Ignore the straight-laced highbrow critics who declare the pieces as inferior (or worse) and bang on about "form" - these are powerful works and Sibelius's fingerprints are all over them, from "signature" descending intervals to typically powerful orchestration and heart-wrenchingly beautiful choral writing. Sibelius had his own ideas about "form" and, although his style is highly individual (unique, perhaps), he left the language of music pretty much as he found it, and didn't follow the trend of modernism, atonality and the like.

Everything you need to know about Sibelius - his life, his music, and relevant contemporary history can be found within the pages of Andrew Barnett's totally enlightening book.

I strongly urge anyone interested in the composer to buy it. It is, without doubt, the most comprehensive and approachable work of its kind, written for the musician and non-musician alike, and in a simple and coherent form.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly readable work of scholarship, 8 Dec 2007
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This review is from: Sibelius (Hardcover)
As far as I know, this is the first book which covers (in fascinating detail) virtually every known composition by the Finnish master. As such it makes an excellent companion to The Sibelius Edition, a multibox CD-anthology of gargantuan proportions which is now approaching completion.
The biographical angle is also well covered by Mr Barnett and includes many interesting facts and anecdotes that I've personally not come across elsewhere.
Whether you want to read from cover to cover or dip in at will to hunt for specific information, this impressive and dedicated work of scholarship is a valuable and thoroughly readable 'must' for anyone with an enthusiasm for the music of Jean Sibelius.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading, 9 Aug 2010
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This review is from: Sibelius (Hardcover)
For some mysterious reason this book is marketed as a biography. What it is in fact is a catalogue of every work the composer ever wrote, with maybe an explanatory line or two to put the piece in the context of what he might have been doing at the time. Sibelius the man remains merely a makeshift life-support system to the writer's main concern, the body of work.

Obviously there is a need to deal with more than just those concert fixtures: Finlandia, Valse Triste, Second & Fifth Symphonies. However, the dusty procession of works on every page lacks the detail and scholarship of a critical study, which this book is far closer to in spirit than a biography. Thus it falls between two stools; the writer would have been better advised to have yielded to temptation and gone for the critical study - yes, sales would have been fewer. But no, he wouldn't have written this disaster of a 'biography'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars useful source of reference, 2 Oct 2010
This review is from: Sibelius (Hardcover)
Although I haven't yet read this book from cover to cover, it appears to be well-written and thorough, presenting useful and, indeed, essential information for anyone who wishes to understand Sibelius and his music. It reveals what a prolific composer Sibelius was, and brings his personality to life as well as revealing detailed knowledge of the composer's vast output - much of it (the early works especially) unknown. Highly recommended to anyone seriously interested in this fine composer.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Music but not the Man, 31 July 2009
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K. Lewis (Northamptonshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sibelius (Hardcover)
After seeing a gripping film about Sibelius on TV, I longed for a good biography of this fascinating man. This is not it. The author seems to want to mention every single piece of music that he ever wrote, but the man is missing. You will have to wait for a much better book if you want the story of his fiery youth and his self-inflicted silence in middle age. If you want a boring checklist - this will do.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A model of its kind., 18 Sep 2014
This review is from: Sibelius (Paperback)
This fine book offers a comprehensive survey of all of Sibelius' music, with a good supporting structure
of biographical information. It does not go into too much detail with the life, but covers what is sufficient
to tell the story. The musical analysis is wide-ranging and well written: not too technical and always engaging. The book
seems to me to be a model of its kind, balancing the necessary context of the artist's existence with the more vital
reason why we are wanting a book on Sibelius in the first place: the music.

It has excellent appendices including:

Musical examples
Catalogue of works
Bibliography
Discography
Family Tree
Map of Finland
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Sibelius
Sibelius by Andrew Barnett (Paperback - 15 Jan 2010)
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