SIBELIUS, Jean – FINLANDIA – for an Ensemble of Twelve (12) Cellos or for large cello orchestra


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FINLANDIA (1899, revised 1900)

Composed by Jean SIBELIUS

arranged for an Ensemble of 12 Cellos (or large cello orchestra) by David Johnstone

PDF 1 – General Cello Ensemble Score
PDF 2 – Individual Parts for Cellos 1 to 4
PDF 3 – Individual Parts for Cellos 5 to 8
PDF 4 – Individual Parts for Cellos 9 to 12

Examples from the General Score:


Jean Sibelius, born Johan Julius Christian Sibelius 8th December 1865 (died in 1957) was a Finnish composer of the late Romantic and early-modern periods. He is widely regarded as his country’s greatest composer, and his music is often credited with having helped Finland develop a stronger national identity when his country was struggling from several attempts of Russification in the late 19th century.

Sibelius composed prolifically until the mid-1920s, but after completing his Seventh Symphony (1924), the incidental music for The Tempest (1926), and the tone poem Tapiola (1926), he stopped producing major works in his last 30 years—a retirement commonly referred to as the “silence of Järvenpää” (the location of his home).

After the seven symphonies and the violin concerto, Sibelius’s thirteen symphonic poems are his most important works for orchestra and, along with the tone poems of Richard Strauss, represent some of the most important contributions to the genre.

Finlandia, probably the best known of all Sibelius’s works, was first privately performed in November 1899, but had its public premiere in revised form in July 1900. Although he initially composed it for orchestra, in 1900 Sibelius arranged the work for solo piano. In order to avoid Russian censorship, Finlandia had to be performed under alternative names at various musical concerts; examples include ‘Happy Feelings at the awakening of Finnish Spring’, and ‘A Scandinavian Choral March’.

Although Sibelius insisted it was primarily an orchestral piece, it became a world favourite for choirs too, especially for the hymn episode. Finally, the composer consented and in 1937 and 1940 agreed to words for the hymn, first for the Freemasons and later for more general use.

Most of the music is rousing and turbulent, obviously evoking the national struggle of the Finnish people. However, towards the end, a calm comes over the orchestra, and the serene and melodic Finlandia Hymn is heard.

The tone poem is scored for large orchestra, consisting of the following:

Woodwinds: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 B♭ clarinets, 2 bassoons

Brass: 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba

Percussion: timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle

Strings: 1st violins, 2nd violins, violas, cellos, double basses

Whilst David Johnstone was a student at the Royal Academy of Music, London, in the 1980s he became interested in cello ensemble arranging, and this work he made a version with 16 cellos, along with other mad projects such as The Brandenburg Concerto No.3 for 10 cellos, and his original variations on the ‘Happy Birthday’ theme for 8 cellos (actually being a serious piece lasting about 20 minutes!). Most of these youthful ideas were lost in time, or even thrown away. The Brandenburg did survive.

Now, forty years later, the arranger feels he needs to wind down a little on the transcribing/arranging world, and re-took this great Sibelius ‘Finlandia’ work, contemplating it this time for a more comfortable to perform 12 Cellos! Every part is absolutely different, and vital – none can be prescinded. However, parts can certainly be doubled up, to the largest cello orchestra sizes imaginable. The parts are not easy, but advanced cellists should have few problems. A conductor is very much to be welcomed, especially in performances of larger than 12 ensembles, but with 12 soloists this can be successfully be presented as a wonderfully large chamber work!



Welcome to Johnstone-Music! A big Anglo-Spanish web for MUSICIANS and especially CELLISTS – original music scores for orchestral instruments and keyboard. Plus articles, audios, videos, resources, catalogues, news etc. Official web of the professional cellist David Johnstone, principal cello Navarre Symphony Orchestra (Spain), chamber musician and soloist in many premieres. Hundreds of cello arrangements in the web for a symbolic charge per download or for free.

The following have taken his work onboard, with special collaborations as composer-arranger-performer: the Philadelphia Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi, Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela, Orchestre Nouvelle Generation de Montreal, the Gulbenkian Orchestra (Lisbon), The Zagreb Soloists, the Saint Petersburg Musical Theatre “Zazerkalye” Chamber Orchestra, the Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum (Poland), Ensemble Metamorphosis of Belgrade (Serbia), the Non-Profit Music Chamber Orchestra of Ara Malikian (Madrid), and a long etc.. Currently, many courses, conservatoires and music schools, university String departments etc. use his repertoire; there are dozens of his arrangements on ‘You Tube’ …

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