News from Finland

Manuscripts of Sibelius thought to be lost are located in collections in the United States

on .

Thanks to some effective ECMTA networking, ECMTA member Pekka Helasvuo, co-editor of the Jean Sibelius Works, sent a call for information to the Music Library Association through Dr David Lasocki, former reference Librarian at the Cook Music Library of Indiana University. The search has revealed several manuscripts thought to be lost. Mr Helasvuo has authorized the posting of the following exchange. 

From: Lasocki, David 
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2012 1:05 PM
Subject: [MLA-L] Request from a librarian in Finland

Call for information

Because I am doing the critical edition of Jean Sibelius' works for string orchestra for the critical edition of Jean Sibelius Works, I would be most grateful for any hints about the manuscript of Impromptu for Strings (known as Op. 5 Nr. 5–6). Harold E. Johnson writes in his biography that the original manuscript disappeared around 1956 soon after he had photocopied the first page in the library of the Finnish Broadcasting Company.  According to what Sibelius' son in law Jussi Jalas told me in the 1970s, the manuscript score was sold to someone in America. If anybody happens to have knowledge of the manuscript I would appreciate very much  any kind of information. The photocopy I mentioned is housed in the Harold E. Johnson Collection, Rare Books & Special Collections, Irwin Library, Butler University, Indiana.


Pekka Helasvuo
Jean Sibelius Works
The National Library of Finland

Mr. Helasvuo,

I saw your call for information about the manuscript of Sibelius op. 5, no. 5-6 posted to the Music Library Association listserv, and think that we may now hold it in the Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library at Harvard University:|library/m/aleph|005058397.

I've attached a scan of the first page, so that you can confirm whether this is the score you're searching for; if so, we're very glad to make a higher-quality copy to assist your work.


Kerry Masteller

**** **** **** **** ****

Kerry Carwile Masteller
Reference and Digital Program Librarian
Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard University

Mr. Masteller,


Thank you very much for your prompt reaction to my call. You have given very important information: although the manuscript isn't the one I've been searching, it seems that you have another manuscript, which has been lost. I quote:

Op. 5 Six Impromptus

Composed in 1893


Two autograph sources are known, both of which are sketches (...). The autograph fair copy of the whole opus is lost...

(Jean Sibelius (2002): Complete Works, Series V, Works for Piano, Volume 1,186)

It would indeed be extremely generous of you if you could make a higher quality copy of the whole manuscript. We would be also very grateful if you can check about another possible Sibelius-manuscripts in your library.

The manuscript I made the call for is the score of the composers own string orchestra arrangement of the two last Impromptus (Nr. 5 and 6) of Op. 5. Your manuscript is the original piano version of the same work (Op. 5 Nr. 5) and, as I tried to express, extremely interesting item.

Enthusiastically looking forward to your reply,



Pekka Helasvuo