symphonic poem by Jean Sibelius

Finlandia is a symphonic poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. He wrote it in 1899 and made some changes to it the next year. "Finlandia" is the Latin name for Finland. At the time Sibelius wrote it, Finland was called the "Grand Duchy of Finland". This was because it was being ruled by Russia. The Finnish people wanted to rule Finland for themselves. The music was composed for a pageant to encourage the Finnish people to work for freedom.

The music of Finlandia is exciting and dramatic. It sounds like the Finnish people struggling to be free. Towards the end the music becomes calm and a lovely tune is played. It is a hymn tune which became known as Finlandia. Many years later Sibelius set some words to this hymn and it is often sung as a separate piece by a choir. The words were written by Veikko Antero Koskenniemi. It has become Finland's best known song and almost feels like a second Finnish national anthem. It is often sung as a hymn in Christian churches to the words "Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side". The tune was also used as the national anthem of the short-lived African country Biafra.