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.

Sibelius 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.

Finnish Nature and Lakes during the fall

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.

Sibelius Birthplace

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

In 1904 Jean Sibelius and his wife Aino moved to Ainola on the shores of Lake Tuusula. The land was expensive but Sibelius needed the distance and peace of mind to concentrate on his work.

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.

The Vila of Ainola

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.

Ainola, which means the land of Aino, receives more than 30 000 visitors a year. According to their wishes, Jean and Aino Sibelius were burried at Ainola.

The Statue of Sibelius

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.

Birch forest

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.

Hotel Kämp in Helsinki

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 LeinoSibelius 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 The 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

Sibelius Guests Comments on Viator

William A June 2017 Delightful concert with charming and enthusiastic commentary. Lovely.

— May 31, 2017

FANTASTIC! GO FINLAND! - Molla, Manchester

"Kanonbra" Vigdis, Kirkenes " Hieno konsertti ja esitys. Kannatti tulla Kokkolasta ü" Marja...

— January 19, 2017

SFE Selected as Culture Travel Finland Top20 Product in 2016

Finpro Visit Finland selected Sibelius Finland Experience as Top 20 Cultural Product for 2016. 234 Finnish companies applied for…

— September 2, 2016

Positive Customer Feedback to Sibelius Finland Experience

Tauk Travel Agent Customer survey brought generally very positive feedback on their Sibelius Finland Experience visit during the…

— August 24, 2016

SFE Announcing Continuity

Sibelius Finland Experience summer season ends on September 15th 2016 at 12:30. Sibelius is very proud to announce…

— June 20, 2016

Irina Kamalova

She is an active performer in the musical life of Finland. / Hän toimii aktiivisena muusikkona Suomen musiikkielämässä.

— June 17, 2016

Sibelius production magic for all ages

I have chosen the music, films and pictures for kids as well. / Valitsin musiikin, filmit ja kuvat siten, että ne soveltuvat…

— June 7, 2016

Emilia Karjunen

Just completed her Master of Music degree at the Sibelius Academy with the very best grades. / Valmistui talvella 2015 musiikin…

— May 26, 2016

Viking Line

The event Sibelius Finland Experience got its new partner Viking Line. / Sibelius Finland Experience är mycket glad att…

— May 17, 2016

Pianist Joel Papinoja

Joel Papinoja will start on the 15th of May the series of Sibelius Finland Experience / Joel Papinoja aloittaa 15.5. Sibelius…

— May 15, 2016

Grand Opening

An authentic cultural live music experience will be presented daily from 15th of May till 15th of September. / Laadukas live…

— May 12, 2016

Snellman Day

Day of Finnishness in Finland is celebrated on the 12th of May / Suomalaisuuden päivä eli J.V. Snellmanin päivä 12.5.

— May 11, 2016

BBC visited Sibelius Finland Experience

On Monday BBC visited us in the National Hall Helsinki. / BBC kuvausryhmä tekivät ennakkotutkimuksen Kansallissalissa.

— May 8, 2016

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. / Äitienpäivä vietetään toukokuun toisena sunnuntaina.

— May 5, 2016

Ascension Day

The Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, also known as Ascension Thursday / 5.5. 2016 on pyhäpäivä…

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