Friday, May 15, 2020

Sibelius & Prokofiev Symphonies no. 5

This montage from our Podcast Vault revisits a post from May 23, 2014. It can be found in our archives at


This week’s encore podcast looks at a pair of symphonies we originally sampled in 2011 in our World Wars montages, and provided in complete for as a pair in 2014. The original post reminds us that, at the time, we were looking at three commemorations: the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion and the 75th anniversary if the start of Word War II.

Six years later – and a week late – we turn to the end of hostilities in the European theatre of World War II, and the liberation of many occupied countries. For Canada in particular, the liberation of the Netherlands, and Ottawa’s long association with the Dutch Royal Family exemplified by our yearly Tulip festival which (COVID-19 oblige) has turned essentially “virtual” this year as lingering foot visitors are discouraged.

The two works featured this week were both composed in wartime: Sibelius’s Fifth in the midst of Workd War I, and Prokofiev’s Fifth in seclusion during World War II. Though I don’t consider them programmatic, they are soaked in the atmosphere of the times, and both offer moments of despair and optimism in their respective finales.

As filler this week, I added another Fifth symphony composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams in the midst of World War II.

I think you will still love this music too.

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