Friday, October 04, 2019

"The Seven Symphonies: A Finnish Murder Mystery" maps a novel plot to a composer's lifetime output


While I was at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock MI on Monday morning, I visited the bookstore next door, and (besides Sept 30 posting) a very intriguing book I picked up is “The Seven Symphonies: A Finnish Murder Mystery”, by Simon Boswell, by Booklocker publishing, 2005, 450 pages, paper.

The story considers the serial murder of musicians in modern day Helsinki.  The chapters of the book are named after the seven symphonies of Jean Sibelius, and the subchapters are named after the movement tempi.  The most triumphant of the set is #2 (which I got to know as a senior in high school, as I did the First, and then the Fifth).  The sixth is like Vaughn Williams, and the Seventh is famous for its one movement.


There is an eighth chapter based on a hypothetical eighth symphony, and the coda for the novel is the quiet “Tapiola”, Op. 112.

I guess Jan Sibelius's lifelong compositional output became a "process piece" that in his own mind became progressively "less bad" (famous 2015 twitter gem).

The book also appears to represent a genre of "Nordic murder mysteries", like the Danish "Smila's Sense of Snow" which became a 1997 film which ends in Greenland (climate change?) with alien overtones.
 
The book might have relevance because a mysterious assassination of journalists in a small town of Imatra, Finland, on the Russian border in Dec. 2016, about 140 miles north of St. Petersburg.
  
I had named chapters of my handwritten apocalyptic novel “The Proles” after music tempi in 1969.
  
I did visit the museum (morning of Monday Sept. 30) as an unattended walkthrough.  Inside the main work room, people were doing crafts and a teenager was sewing the seams of his own shorts, an odd sight.

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