Item description for Dear Sibelius: Letter from a Junky by Marshall Walker...
When a schoolboy in Glasgow, Marshall Walker became addicted to the music of Sibelius. In 1996 he made a pilgrimage to Finland, visiting places of special significance to the composer, his birthplace in Hmeenlinna, the villa 'Ainola' where he lived for over 50 years, the forests and lakes near Koli in the Karelia. Back home in New Zealand Walker began to write Sibelius a thank-you letter for a lifetime's companionship. Walker tells Sibelius how his music helped him overcome childhood ordeals in Scotland. He discovers Sibelian connections in his family, tracing the steps of his grandfather from a Sunday stroll in a Glasgow park to the Elliot Junction railway disaster of 1906 and commemorating his uncle's service on the Salonika front in WWI. The scene shifts to student days at Glasgow University, problems with God, the kindness of the Scottish conductor, Ian Whyte, and the music of Arnold Bax, Sibelius's 'son in music'. In apartheid South Africa Sibelius becomes Walker's medicine man. There's a glimpse of the composer fted in the USA and a connection between his music and the American writer, Robert Penn Warren. A child falls in love with Sibelius's Third Symphony. From New Zealand Walker sets out on the compulsive pilgrimage which prompts him to try to show how an artist can be a continuous, sustaining presence in a life. There's talk of Sibelius's music throughout the letter - a grateful junky's talk, not a critic's. 'You have taught me about Sibelius.' Osmo Vnsk 'A true writer. Excellent. I must repeat, excellent.' Lygia Fagundes Telles 'Compellingly human stories in a masterly fusion of music and life'. Hugh Macdonald Marshall Walker was born and educated in Scotland where he is currently Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow. He lectured in English at Glasgow University from 1965 to 1980 after a spell at Rhodes University in South Africa. From 1981 until 2006 he was Professor of English at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand with time out for visiting appearances in the USA, Poland, Germany, Italy and Brazil. His publications include The Literature of the United States of America and Scottish Literature since 1707. An occasional broadcaster on literary and musical topics for Radio New Zealand and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, he introduced broadcasts of the 2005 Sydney Sibelius Festival in which Sibelius's symphonies were performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy. He lives in Hamilton, New Zealand, with his Brazilian wife, the writer, Cludia Pacce.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.1" Width: 7.4" Height: 0.7" Weight: 1.25 lbs.
Release Date Jan 20, 2008
Publisher Kennedy & Boyd
ISBN 1904999689 ISBN13 9781904999683
Availability 136 units. Availability accurate as of Mar 28, 2017 02:28.
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Sibelius Junky Aug 4, 2008
Dear Sibelius: Letter from a Junky
Marshall Walker describes himself as a Sibelius junky who became became addicted to the music of Jean Sibelius as a child growing up in Scotland. This book is a long thank you letter to the Finnish composer whose music accompanied Walker through his lonely childhood, troubled adolescence and complex adult life.
The book works on two levels. It's as a sophisticated commentary on the anguish and achievement of a remarkable composer struggling to assert a passionately nationalistic music while striking innovative chords internationally. It also works as an quirky autobiography of an erudite literary scholar whose work took him from isolated Scotland to apartheid South Africa to New Zealand struggling valiantly to maintain its independence from bigger western nations.
This reader enjoyed the game of spotting the many literary allusions throughout the book and was sore tempted to play the music that Walker discusses throughout. The book first came to my attention through a re-broadcast of a series of brilliant radio programs on Radio New Zealand which combined readings from the text with the wonderful music of Sibelius. If you can track down the tapes you're in for a rare treat. You too could become a Sibelius junky! Dear Sibelius: Letter from a Junky