5. Linda Sibelius
Sister of Jean Sibelius
Inner Circle Seminar No. 170
27 November 2011
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Today’s seminar is devoted, on her 148th birthday, to Linda Sibelius (27 November 1863 – 15 May 1932), the older sister of the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) and of Finland’s leading professor of psychiatry Christian Sibelius (1869–1922). Sibelius’s biographer Robert Layton writes that she was ‘committed to an asylum’. Engaged in some kind of religious quest, she spent her last thirty years in psychiatric hospitals. Her brothers continued to have apparently warm relationships with her, but Jean Sibelius wrote in one diary entry that it was depressing to see ‘the madwoman’. We are now in the centenary year of Sibelius’s profoundly searching work, the Fourth Symphony (1911), which he called a ‘psychological’ symphony. He wrote in his diary: ‘It calls for much courage to look life straight in the eyes!’ He later said to Walter Legge that to have continued composing in that direction would have led to ‘madness’. What was the relationship between his quest and his sister’s? Gitta Henning, at the prompting of Anthony Stadlen, and encouraged by the Sibelius family, has conducted extensive research on Linda Sibelius in Finnish archives especially for today’s Inner Circle Seminar. There is little about Linda Sibelius in the Sibelius biographies. They do not even give the date of her death, which was discovered by Mrs Henning. Why was the sister of one of the greatest twentieth-century composers a ‘mental patient’ for the last three decades of her life? We shall, as in all the seminars of the subseries Locked Up: ‘Patients’ and their Gaolers, examine the interpersonal and social events that led to her decades-long ‘confinement’.
Gitta Henning is, in the view of Sibelius experts, the best possible guide to these questions. She worked as assistant to Erik Tawaststjerna on his monumental five-volume biography of Sibelius in the 1960s, and worked for thirty years on bringing out the Swedish and Finnish editions. She has deep knowledge of the Sibelius archives, and is often called upon by Finnish and foreign scholars to help with their research. We are honoured that she has undertaken this research on Linda Sibelius and will reveal her findings for the first time at our Inner Circle Seminar today.
Venue: Durrants Hotel, 26–32 George Street, Marylebone, London W1H 5BJ (http://www.durrantshotel.co.uk/)
Cost: Psychotherapy trainees, music students, and members of the UK Sibelius Society £50, others £135, some bursaries; mineral water and liquorice allsorts included; payable in advance; no refunds unless seminar cancelled
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8888 6857 E-mail: email@example.com
For further information on seminars, visit: http://anthonystadlen.blogspot.com/
The Inner Circle Seminars were founded by Anthony Stadlen in 1996 as an ethical, existential, phenomenological search for truth in psychotherapy. They have been kindly described by Thomas Szasz as ‘Institute for Advanced Studies in the Moral Foundations of Human Decency and Helpfulness’. But they are independent of all institutes, schools and colleges.