A matinée concert in Rome with the Augusteo Orchestra introduced major works and Sibelius favourites to an Italian audience completely unfamiliar with Finland and Sibelius. The composer told the Italian journalist Alberto Gasco: ‘I dipped into the poetry and sagas of my native land and then sang my own tune.’
The suite from Pelléas and Mélisande contains almost all of the exquisitely nuanced incidental music that Sibelius wrote for Maurice Maeterlinck’s symbolist play about forbidden love.
20 years prior to the concert, Sibelius composed parts of the Second Symphony in Italy. This has become one of the most popular and most frequently recorded of his symphonies.