On this day in Helsinki, 1902, one of Jean Sibelius' most popular pieces, his Symphony No. 2, premiered. Sibelius said of the work, "My second symphony is a confession of the soul."
The piece was written shortly after Sibelius's wildly popular tone poem, Finlandia.
His symphony was played by the Helsinki Philharmonic Society with Sibelius at the podium. The first three performances were sold out. Fellow Finnish composer, Oskar Merikanto, noted that the premiere "exceeded even the highest expectations." Though music critics were divided, the public loved the piece, thinking it was connected, musically, to Finland's struggle for independence from Russia. It is not known whether Sibelius wrote the piece as a nationalist composition or not. Regardless, it has proven popular since.
The Seattle Symphony performed Sibelius's Symphony No. 1 and Symphony No. 2 in March of 2015. You can read that Encore Arts Program, here.