The six women of the Merry Hearts and their children, were gathered in Evanston, Illinois in one of the member’s houses, just as every year. The lady of the house loved to have luncheon at her house so all could enjoy her spectacular tree, the German village below and surrounding the tree, along with other colorful decorations.
I have no memory of the food, but distinctly recall the Victrola and the biggest record disk I’d ever seen. When our hostess set the needle on the spinning disk (that’s how it was done in those days), the most glorious music poured forth. It filled the room and my senses, including my skin which had immediately bloomed with goose bumps.
Oh! the timpani, the low and potent music was an attack, voluptuous and crowding the room with its beautiful intentions. It was Sibelius’ freedom cry, independence from the clutch of Mother Russia. And She was one demanding mother.
What brought back the memory was hearing Bill McLaughlin on WFMT’s Exploring Music. This week it’s offering Grieg and Sibelius - he’s skipped past Sweden and Denmark, which is just as well. (There are classical composers from those countries, but most often to be avoided; I know that’s rude, but a perusal of same will bear that out.)
Finlandia became more and more popular for expressing freedom when performed by other orchestras in other countries. It’s often heard in the United States during Fourth of July celebrations.
Words were added and it became a hymn. Here it is in Finnish. While I’m at it, the “real” name of Finland is Suomi.