Yöllisten näkyjen unohdettu runoelma
Erkki Melartin (1875−1937) was not only a professional composer and Jean Sibelius’ contemporary, but also a conductor, music administrator, teacher of music theory and composition, and director of the Helsinki Conservatory, which later 1939 was renamed the Sibelius Academy. Melartin was practically the only symphonist in Finland until the mid-1910’s aside from Sibelius. He produced a large oeuvre, e.g. six symphonies, three symphonic poems, a Kalevala-based opera Aino, and a ballet, The Blue Pearl.
This article concentrates on Melartin’s symphonic poem Traumgesicht, op. 70, completed in 1910. It was neglected and nearly forgotten for 80 years in Finnish musical life after its last performance in Helsinki in 1932. It was not until 2013 that the work was edited by Jani Kyllönen and performed in the same year by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the conductor Hannu Lintu.
The article deals with the previously completely unknown genesis of the work, its Russian and Finnish performances and reception, and Melartin’s connections with Alexander Siloti, the influential pianist, composer and organizer of important concert series in St. Petersburg. In addition, the research concerns contemporary musical stimuli behind the work, and at the time exceptionally virtuosic instrumental writing for a large orchestra in Finland. Study of the manuscript and sketch material reveals that the composition consists of different layers. It has been concluded that Traumgesicht is based on the incidental music Melartin wrote for Gabriele d’Annunzio’s play Spring morning’s dream in 1905. In any case, Melartin’s "Nocturnal vision" from the year 1910 is in its modern appearance quite different from other Finnish works of the era, thus opening a new insight into its composer’s oeuvre.