The Muse as Temptress and Redemptress
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An intimate relationship has been perceived between the music of Sibelius's Karelianist period and the composer's amorous and sexual experiences. A crucial stimulus to the development of musical means of erotic expression was the time Sibelius spent in Vienna in 1890. Sibelius expressed these themes in a pluralist musical style, with neo-Romanticism coexisting with a graphic erotic realism, evocative of the 'sensuous', the 'luscious' or the 'primitive'. According to Timothy Jackson, a pervading mythic narrative of the 'theologized' domestic drama is found in Sibelius's music, involving the dual role of woman as temptress (Eve) or redemptive (Mary) figure, and her relationship with the male hero figured as Adam or Christ. This chapter analyses the manner in which the erotic encounter with the seductive and inspiring Other can be heard in two of Sibelius's tone poems and the first two symphonies, and reveals how this topic contributes to modernist subversions of Romantic paradigms.