Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Sun and Rocks, 1918-50; watercolor on gouache on joined paper mounted on board, 40 x 56 inches (Enlarged from Song of the Peterbird, 1918, 26 x 19 inches); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, Room of Contemporary Art Fund, 1953
Charles E. Burchfield, Journals, January 22, 1938
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
January 22, 1938 Saturday-
The most pernicious bore of all is that writer on music who fancies he has achieved originality by running counter to the generally accepted estimate of a composer’s music. This ___ ___ writing in the Boston Symphony Program notes takes issue with those of us who “profess” to find in Sibelius’ work the grimness of the Finnish landscape & nature. (Damn all these writers on art whose aim is to “soften” the ruggedness of an original creator!) So we are told that the great first movement of Sibelius’ 2nd Symphony was written while the composer was in Italy, enjoying the approach of Spring. One feels like replying with that cheap colloquialism “So what?” As if it mattered where Sibelius was, or what the season was!; The rugged wildness of this superb music could never have been born anywhere but in a forbidding northern landscape. The writer deplores the grim forbidding austerity of Sibelius’ music as tho that was a qualities (sic) not to be desired. Whereas there is the great power of it!
Toscanini recently performed the 2nd Symphony so far as I could determine this is the first he has played Sibelius. I wondered at it before, but after hearing his interpretation, I ceased to wonder. He is too much of a Latin for Sibelius. A couple of days later I played the Kajanus (Robert Kajanus 1856-1933) Version, and revelled anew in his raucous utterance. My advice to would be (sic) Sibelius performers would be to blow vitriol fumes through the brasses, play the strings with rasps, and beat the drums with sledgehammers - then they’d have it.
Charles E. Burchfield, January 22, 1938