Throughout this year BBC Radio 3 have been celebrating the centenary of Finnish national independence, their declaration of freedom from Russian rule on 6th December 1917. Being Radio 3, Sibelius’ name and music has been much invoked, including of course the unashamedly nationalistic Finlandia which has become the de facto anthem (despite his long-held opposition to the sung version, apparently only given up after many years – unaccountable beings, composers..)
I quote from Kids Britannica (free excerpt):
(1865–1957). To the world Jean Sibelius is one of the great composers of symphonies. To his fellow Finns, however, he is far more. They revere him as one of Finland’s greatest patriots. His music, inspired by Finnish myth and literature, roused national fervour and helped the Finns preserve their spirit despite the iron rule of Russia (1809–1917). His tone poem Finlandia is one of the noblest expressions of love of country in all music…
The BBC have habitually, and approvingly, referred to him as ‘fiercely nationalistic, a patriot’. The titanic irony of this in the face of their studied neutrality in the recent Catallonian saga, and their open dismay at our own current situation, has apparently passed the broadcasting grandees by.