SIBELIUS, Jean (1865-1957)
Plaque erected in 1995 by English Heritage at 15 Gloucester Walk, Holland Park, London, W8 4HZ, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Music and Dance
JEAN SIBELIUS 1865-1957 Composer lived here in 1909
Jean Sibelius was a Finnish composer who achieved success in his native country at the end of the 19th century, and was internationally famous by the early 20th century. He visited London in 1909 and stayed for several weeks at 15 Gloucester Walk in Holland Park.
Born in Hämeenlinna, Sibelius studied music in Helsinki, Berlin and Vienna, beginning his musical life as a violinist but soon turning to composition. His first major success came with his Kullervo symphony (1892), which became a keystone of the romantic nationalist movement in his homeland.
In the following decade he produced many of his most famous works, including the Karelia music and suite (1893), Finlandia (1899–1900) and The Swan of Tuonela (1893, revised 1897 and 1900).
SIBELIUS IN LONDON
After 1900 Sibelius’s fame spread abroad and he was admired in Britain by figures such as the composer Granville Bantock and the conductor Henry Wood. Sibelius paid the first of five visits to Britain in 1905, largely to conduct. His longest visit was in 1909, when Rosa Newmarch – a writer and champion of east European music – found him accommodation at 15 Gloucester Walk.
Sibelius lived in the house from February to March, during which time he composed his only published string quartet, Voces Intimae. Between 1910 and 1925 he concentrated mainly on symphonies, before giving up composition for the last three decades of his life.
The English Heritage plaque, unveiled in 1995, was the first to honour a Finnish national.