Another 2 for 1 today as we celebrate the birthday of a composer and mourn the loss of a musician who changed modern music forever.
Sibelius was born on this day in 1865.
Every year since 2011, Finland has a ‘Flag Day’ on this date, referred to as the ‘Day of Finnish Music.’ Although best known for his symphonies, Sibelius wrote over a hundred songs and pieces of choral music, of which ‘En etsi valtaa loistoa’ is one of the most exquisite. The text is based on a Swedish poem by Zacharius Topelius, and the most poetic of the many translations into English, by Andrew Mackie, gives the opening lines as; ‘I need no fanfares, gold nor worth / This holy Christmastide / God’s glory give me, peace on earth / An angel as my guide.’
This perfect Christmas carol is sung here by the Finnish Radio Chamber Choir.
Also, on this day in 1980, John Lennon was murdered in New York City. It’s hard to believe he would have been 80 years old this year.
As a member of the Beatles, John was co-writer of dozens of hit songs in the 1960s and 1970s. Afterwards, he had an influential solo career and was a prominent anti-war activist. His impact on modern popular music is incalculable.
Here’s a song from John that reminds of us the real spirit of Christmas.