Sibelius completed this work in February 1923 and conducted the premiere at Helsinki on February 19 of that same year.
His first reference to the work, in 1918, described it as "wild and passionate in character. Dark with pastoral contrasts. Probably in 4 movements...intensifying in a dark orchestral swell [until] the main theme is drowned." At the same time he cautioned that his plan could change — and how it did! — "depending on the way my musical thinking develops. I am always a slave to my themes and obey their demands."