The year 2015 will be the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Finnish national composer Jean Sibelius. Hundreds of events celebrating his life and music will take place all over the world. Highlights include the 11th International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition, an international conference for Sibelius scholars, and the annual Sibelius festivals.
Jean Sibelius was born in the town of Hämeenlinna on December 8th, 1865. Finland was still part of the Russian empire, although the nationalist movement was growing. Born speaking Swedish as his mother tongue, Sibelius learned Finnish in school, and became acquainted with works such as Kalevala.
Sibelius was inspired by these, and his early works such as the Song of the Athenians became what could be called ”battle hymns” of the nationalist movement. Sibelius later moved into a more international direction, and outside of Finland is best known for his seven symphonies.
In Finland Sibelius is considered a national hero and his birthday is a flag day.