A peek into Sibelius' Finland
Known for his set of seven symphonies and compositions such as Finlandia, the Karelia Suite and Valse Triste, Jean Sibelius was and still is the most respected and best known Finnish composer of all time.
There has perhaps never been another composer who has so vividly and veraciously been able to capture the nature, history and myths of his own people in his notes. In addition, Sibelius’ music had a very significant role in the independence process of Finland.
Contrasts are the main ingredient in Finnish cultural life – like running from a hot sauna to an icy lake, we embrace them to the fullest.
CAPTURING MUSIC IN A MONUMENT
The Sibelius Monument in Helsinki is one of the capital’s most visited and adored attractions. It is located in the Sibelius Park, in the district of Töölö, just a stone throw away from the sea. The abstract – and at the time controversial – monument was unveiled in 1967. The aim of this majestic piece is to capture the essence of Sibelius’ music – many would agree that it lives to expectations.
BIRTHTOWN OF JEAN SIBELIUS
A perfect place to start the walk through Sibelius’ life is in his hometown in the city of Hämeenlinna, about 98 kilometres northwest of Helsinki. Here Sibelius went to school, explored the forests, spent hours fishing in the lake, and skiing in winter.
As a young boy Sibelius especially loved the forest in Aulanko, currently a Nature Reserve Park.
…AND THE HOUSE SIBELIUS WAS BORN IN
Jean Sibelius was born on a cold winter’s day, with -17 degrees celsius outside, on December 8, 1865.
He was born in a quaint and small wooden house, built in 1834, near the old church and the main market square. It is now a museum and a place of pilgrimage for Sibelius’ fans. Although his life in this house was quite short lived, he is often quoted on one of his fondest childhood memories of this time: the aroma of his father’s cigar in the house.
On one of the walls of the museum hang paintings from the Sibelius nursery and his piano is also there on display. Students of the Hämeenlinna Sibelius College often give concerts in the museum.
THE VILLA OF AINOLA
The house was designed by Lars Sonck, one of the cutting edge architects of the time. Ainola was the Sibelius’ home for over half a century and it was in here where Sibelius composed most of his works. The first major compositions he completed at Ainola were his Violin Concerto and his Third Symphony.
Visitors will be taken aback by the stunning gardens of Ainola which were Aino Sibelius’ pride and joy and her special preserve. Aino was responsible for both designing the garden and turning those designs into reality. The garden was divided into three sections: a fruit-growing area, a vegetable patch and a flower garden in front of the house. The aim of the Sibelius family was to be self-sufficient as regards garden produce.
For Jean Sibelius his daily long walks in the gardens and forest at Ainola – “My Temple” as he used to call it – were a source of inspiration and it is this relationship with nature that he nurtured throughout his life.
INSPIRATION FROM FORESTS AND LAKES
As a schoolboy in Hämeenlinna Sibelius used to roam in the forest with his violin at hand. Among the pines, spruces and rowanberry trees he felt at home and found inspiration to his music.
Sibelius’ creative and versatile mind cannot be separated from his strong identity with nature. The stunning landscapes around Sibelius’ hometown Hämeenlinna, the Vanaja lake and Aulanko park, and the gardens and the Kielomäki forest at Ainola enable the visitor to understand the link between nature and Sibelius’ music. This link remains in the way people analyze and listen to his music.
WHEN NATURE BECOMES MUSIC
Sibelius’ connoisseurs have described his music as a romantic-heroic representation of the Finnish landscape. Several of his musical pieces were named after nature: Birch, Spruce and Waterdrops. In his music elements of nature seem to spring from lakes and forests: the ripple of the lake’s water and the breeze sweeps the branches of tall pines.
With Sibelius Finnish nature becomes music.
LATE NIGHT DRINKING AT THE KÄMP
Hotel Kämp in central Helsinki was by far Sibelius’ favorite hangout place. Together with other great names – such as the great painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela and national poet Eino Leino – Sibelius frequented the bar so often that even his music has reputedly been inspired by the place. Hotel Kämp is 125 years old today and as magnificent as ever.
2015: YEAR OF SIBELIUS
The year 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius. The year will be full of Sibelius related events around the country and also abroad. Museum exhibitions, concerts, pilgrimages to places dear to the composer are amongst these.
In Sibelius’ hometown Hämeenlinna visitors can enjoy Sibelius’ four seasons, starting from January 2015: Sibelius Winter, Sibelius Spring, Sibelius Summer and Sibelius Autumn. The culmination for all these events will be in December 2015 with the grand Sibelius Celebration.
N.B. Until end of March 2015 the Ateneum Art Museum holds an extensive jubilee exhibition, exploring the composer’s contact with the art scene of his day:
Sibelius was surrounded by art both in his youth and in his later years. Aino and Jean Sibelius’ artists friends and relatives were often at Ainola and the Sibelius family’s art collection provided a background for the composer’s work. Sibelius inspired reknown Finnish artist such as the painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela and he dedicated his fourth symphony to his brother-in-law the Finnish realist painter Eero Järnefelt. The exhibition Sibelius and the world of Art explores the relationship between the composer and the art scene of his time. The catalogue of the exhibition can also be found in English.
Credits to original Blog post at: Visitfinland.com
July 5, 2017
William A June 2017 Delightful concert with charming and enthusiastic commentary. Lovely.
May 31, 2017
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June 17, 2016
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June 7, 2016
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May 26, 2016
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May 17, 2016
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May 15, 2016
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May 12, 2016
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May 11, 2016
On Monday BBC visited us in the National Hall Helsinki. / BBC kuvausryhmä tekivät ennakkotutkimuksen Kansallissalissa.
May 8, 2016
Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. / Äitienpäivä vietetään toukokuun toisena sunnuntaina.
May 5, 2016
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