Composers throughout the centuries have often turned to the myths and legends of their native homelands for artistic inspiration. For example, Richard Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle is based on elements of both Germanic and Norse folklore.
One other great composer who composed a work based on mythology was the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
Sibelius came to prominence early in his career for this piece, the symphonic poem Kullervo. Kullervo is based on a tale about a self-destructive hero from the Kalevala, the epic saga of Finland that is also considered to be the country’s greatest literary work.
We’ve just played for you an excerpt from the “Introduction” of Sibelius’ work, which basically foreshadows the tragic tale about unfold. Elements of the legend of Kullervo later found their way into the novel The Simarillion, one of the later works of Irish fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkein, the author of The Hobbit and the epic Lord of the Rings cycle.