Category Archives: News

Sibelius Forest

Lake Aulanko from Aulanko Tower
Photo: © Leo-setä (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

On 24 August 2018 the city of Hämeenlinna will inaugurate the ‘Sibelius Forest’, an approximately 100-hectare nature reserve east of the Lake Aulanko – the area seen from Aulanko observation tower. The forest is located in Hämeenlinna National Park, Finland’s first and the world’s second national urban park, established in January 2001.

The aim of the Sibelius Forest is that it will not significantly limit recreational use of the land (e.g. the Aulanko Hiking Trail) but will take better account of the objectives of the nature conservation area. The area has considerable indirect economic significance, contributing to tourism in Aulanko/Hämeenlinna.

The establishment of the Sibelius Forest Nature Reserve strengthens the position of Hämeenlinna as the ‘city of Sibelius’, protecting the nationally valuable landscape and natural environment, that inspired Sibelius to compose Finlandia.

The young Sibelius enjoyed the forest, often visited Aulanko and was familiar with the views. In the late 19th century, Aulankovuori Hill was a popular place for excursions, with a wooden lookout pavilion at the top of the hill; later, a 33-metre tall granite observation tower was built (Waldemar Aspelin, 1906–07).

Aulanko Observation Tower

Photo: © Alessio Damato 2006 (GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

The establishment of the Sibelius Forest is linked to Finland’s centenary celebrations in 2017.

Further information (in Finnish) click here.





Ainola 2018

Photo: © Leon Chia

The programme at Sibelius’s home, Ainola, in 2018 includes numerous concerts and garden tours.

Concerts 2018

Lahti Sibelius Festival mini-concerts will be given on Wednesday 13 June and Sunday 17 June at 12 noon and 1 pm by the Wellamo Trio (Lotta Nykäsenoja, violin; Ilkka Uurtimo, cello and Anu Silvasti, piano). On the programme is Sibelius’s Piano Trio in A minor, ‘Hafträsk’, JS 207 (1886).
Entry is included in the Ainola admission ticket price or via the Museum Card.
No prior reservations or seating / no guided tours between 11.30 and 1.30 on concert days.

Meidän Festivaali / Our Festival concerts will take place on Monday 23 July at 2 pm and 5 pm. The concerts have the theme ‘Animals and Plants’, and the festival’s artistic director Pekka Kuusisto is among the performers.
Gabriella Smith: Carrot Revolution [Kamus Quartet]
Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber: Sonata Representativa [Pekka Kuusisto, violin / Jarmo Julkunen, guitar]
Tytti Arola: Metsä [Pekka Kuusisto, violin]
Jean Sibelius: ‘The Trees’, Op. 75 [Ingfrid Breie Nyhus, piano]
Tickets, 2 pm – click here
Tickets, 5 pm – click here

Music on Sibelius’s instruments – Thursday 30 August at 6 pm
Kaisa Porra-Hänninen, violin; Kari Hänninen, piano
Music by Jean Sibelius, Armas Järnefelt and Joonas Kokkonen
These artists return to Ainola after a concert in December 2016 also featuring Sibelius’s own instruments. Kaisa Porra-Hänninen has played in the Finnish National Opera Orchestra for most of her career and has appeared frequently with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tapiola Sinfonietta and Lahti Symphony orchestra. Kari Hänninen has worked as a choir répétiteur at the Finnish National Opera, as an orchestral pianist and as an accompanist at the Sibelius Academy.
Tickets – click here

‘Do you hear how nature smells?’ – Thursday 20 September at 6 pm
Jussi Makkonen, cello; Nazig Azezian, piano
This concert, on the 61st anniversary of Sibelius’s death, includes some of Sibelius’s most popular pieces in arrangements for cello and piano (The Spruce; Valse triste; Finlandia). In 2017 Makkonen and Azezian received a platinum disc for their recording accompanying the children’s book Soiva metsä (Melody Forest). That disc was recorded at Ainola in 2014 and are well-known for championing Sibelius’s music internationally, and especially for their performances for children and young people’
Hear them perform Finlandia – click here
Tickets – click here

‘Well-known and Enigmatic’ – Saturday 8 December at 5 pm
Folke Gräsbeck, piano; Petteri Iivonen, violin, with Prof. Timo Virtanen
Folke Gräsbeck has performed more than 400 works by Sibelius and recorded them extensively. Petteri Iivonen, winner of the Kuopio Violin Competition and a prizewinner at the Sibelius Violin Competition in 2010, performs regularly as a soloist with prestigious international orchestras. Timo Virtanen is editor-in-chief of the Jean Sibelius Works critical edition.
Tickets go on sale in June.

Garden Tours

During the summer of 2018 there will be guided tours of the garden that Aino Sibelius created at Ainola. The tours will focus on the planning of the garden, the choice of decorative and functional plants, the history of the garden and Aino Sibelius’s significance for Finnish gardening.

The construction of Ainola’s garden began in 1904 when the family moved in. The garden’s essential nature has been well preserved, and reveals much both about the importance of growing plants for food and about the way the beauty of nature provided artistic inspiration for the family. For Sibelius, the grounds and garden at Ainola were an important source of inspiration, as is shown for example in the numerous piano pieces that are named after trees and flowers.

Guided tours in Finnish on Thursdays at 3 pm (until 13 September 2018)
Guided tours in English on Thursdays in August at 12 noon
Entry is included in the Ainola admission ticket price or via the Museum Card
Group bookings available (€30 per group plus admission ticket price) – information:
(N.B. There will be no tours on 21 June, 23 August, 20 September and 27 September)

Other news

The roots of the spruce hedge adjoining the car park at Ainola have been affected by excavations, and the hedge will be renewed in the spring of 2018. For the sake of consistency, the hedge is also being also extended on the other side of the gate. At the same time, the gate will be replaced because the position of the hedge is changing. While the new hedge is growing, a metal fence is being incorporated into it.


Summer Sounds Sibelius Rarity

(Photos: CC BY 4.0)

One of Sibelius’s rarest works, the Melodrama from Svartsjukans nätter (Nights of Jealousy) will be performed in Porvoo, Finland, in June as part of Avanti!’s Summer Sounds music festival.

This large-scale melodrama for soprano, piano trio and recitation, some 15 minutes long, was composed in 1893 to mark the birthday of the poet J.L. Runeberg, whose words it sets. The poem tells of a dream in which the poet is blissfully reunited with a former lover, but from which he wakes abruptly just when his happi­ness seems complete. Sibelius re-used some of its thematic material in the well-known fifth and sixth Impromptus for piano.

The performers include some of Finland’s most distinguished and high-profile musicians, among them Anu Komsi and Sakari Oramo.

June 30 June 2018 at 6 pm, Avanti! Hall (Art Factory, Porvoo, Finland)
‘O dröm’
Mozart:  Clarinet Quintet, K 581
Sibelius: Melodram ur Svartsjukans nätter, JS 125
Heinz-Juhani Hoffmann: Four Songs to texts by Jussi Kylätasku (world première)
Schoenberg: String Quartet No. 2
Anu Komsi, soprano  ·  Frank Skog, narrator
Kari Kriikku, basset clarinet  ·  Eero Manninen, piano 
Sakari Oramo, violin  ·  Jukka Rautasalo, cello
Avanti! Quartet

Avanti!’s music festival Summer Sounds has been held since 1986 in Porvoo and Pernaja.

Tickets: € 32/27/15 (click here for link to ticket sales). Bus transfers from Helsinki are available.

Further information (in Finnish): click here.

Sibelius i Korpo 2018

***Updated 30 April 2018: revised programme for Sunday concert***

The seventeenth ‘Sibelius i Korpo’ festival in the Turku archipelago will take place on 20–22 July 2018. This year’s theme is ‘Oskar Merikanto 150’, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Oscar Merikanto on 5 August 1868. The programmes thus feature works by Sibelius and Merikanto. All concerts take place at Korpo gård, where Sibelius, his family and friends made music in the summer of 1887. The festival is organized by Petri Kirkkomäki and its artistic director is Folke Gräsbeck.

Oskar Merikanto

Provisional programmes are as follows:

Friday 20.7.2018 at 9 pm – Evening Concert at Korpo gård
‘Sibelius’s and Merikanto’s Youth’
Jean Sibelius: Con moto, sempre una corda, JS 52, for piano
Oskar Merikanto: Kesäillan valssi, Op. 1, for piano
Merikanto: Fantasy on the folk song ‘Tuoll’ on mun kultani’ for piano four hands
Sibelius: Andantino in A major for piano trio
Sibelius: Andante molto in F minor for cello & piano
Sibelius: Scherzo in E minor, JS 165, for violin, cello & piano four hands
Merikanto: Valse mélancolique, Op. 6 No. 3 for piano four hands
Merikanto: Herää Suomi (Awake, Finland, arr. of Emil Genetz’ song) for piano four hands
‘The Years before Independence’
Sibelius: Religioso & Rigaudon, Op. 78 Nos 3 & 4, for cello & piano
Sibelius: Sonatina in E major, Op. 80, for violin & piano
Merikanto: Nuorisolle, Op. 92, suite for piano
Olivier Pons, violin
Helen Lindén-Pons, cello
Peter Lönnqvist, piano
Folke Gräsbeck, piano & artistic director

Saturday 21.7.2018 at 1 pm: Ceremony at the Sibelius statue
Music, flowers, speeches
Welcome from Petri Kirkkomäki, festival organizer, and from
Severi Blomstedt on behalf of the Sibelius family

Saturday 21.7.2018 at 6 pm: Concert at Korpo gård
‘Musik from the turn of the century’
Merikanto: Kirkko-aikana for piano four hands
Merikanto: Hungarian March, Op. 46, for piano four hands
Merikanto: Canon in G major for piano four hands
Sibelius: Dolcissimo, JS 63, for kantele
Sibelius: Moderato, JS 130, for kantele
Sibelius: Lullaby, JS 222, for violin & kantele
Merikanto: Kullan murunen, Op. 20 No. 1, arr. for kantele
Merikanto: Helkähdys for two kanteles
Merikanto: Kesäillan idylli, Op. 16 No. 2, arr. for kantele
Merikanto: Vallinkorvan laulu, Op. 24 No. 2, arr. for kantele
Merikanto: Valse lente, Op. 33, arr. for kantele
Merikanto: Soi vienosti murheeni soitto, Op. 36 No. 3, arr. for kantele
Merikanto: Jag gungar i högsta grenen, variations on the song by Gabriel Linsén, Op. 26, for piano
‘A Lonely Ski-Trail’ – Works from Maturity
Merikanto: Two Pieces, Op. 102, for violin & piano
Sibelius: Novellette, Op. 102, for violin & piano
Sibelius: Danses champêtres, Op. 106 Nos 4 & 5, for violin & piano
Sibelius: Four movements from ‘The Tempest’, Op. 109, for cello & piano
Sibelius: Ett ensamt skidspår, JS 77a, for speaker & piano (1925)
Sibelius: Adagio ‘Rakkaalle Ainolle’, JS 161, for piano four hands
Ralf Långbacka, speaker
Johanna Aho & Suvi Lehtonen-Gräsbeck, kantele
Olivier Pons, violin
Helen Lindén-Pons, cello
Peter Lönnqvist & Folke Gräsbeck, piano

Sunday 22.7.2018 at 2 pm: Lecture at Korpo gård
‘Jean Sibelius och Oskar Merikanto’
Andrew Barnett (General Manager, Sibelius One)

Sunday 22.7.2018 at 4 pm: Concert at Korpo gård
‘Songs, Opera and Theatre Music’
Merikanto: extracts from the opera ‘Pohjan neiti’ arr. for kantele and for piano four hands
Merikanto: Tuulan tei from the music to ‘Tukkijoella’, Op. 13, arr. for kantele
Merikanto: Reppurin laulu from the music to ‘Juhannustulilla’, Op. 14, arr. for kantele
Merikanto: Karkelo alkaa from the music to ‘Panu’ for mezzo-soprano & 2 kanteles
Merikanto: En barnsaga vid brasan; Den enda stunden; Sorgens makt; Vi ses igen for mezzo-soprano & piano
Sibelius: Ljunga Wirginia, ‘opera’ for violin, cello & piano four hands
Sibelius: Bollspelet vid Trianon, Op. 36 No. 3, for mezzo-soprano & piano
Sibelius: Soluppgång, JS 87, for mezzo-soprano & piano (world première performance)
Sibelius: Den första kyssen, Op. 37 No. 1, for mezzo-soprano & piano
Sibelius: Kyssen, Op. 72 No. 3, for mezzo-soprano & piano
Sibelius: Narciss, JS 140, for mezzo-soprano & piano
Sibelius: Finlandia, Op. 26 (arr. for solo piano with mezzo-soprano in the hymn)
Erica Back, mezzo-soprano
Johanna Aho & Suvi Lehtonen-Gräsbeck, kantele
Olivier Pons, violin
Helen Lindén-Pons, cello
Peter Lönnqvist & Folke Gräsbeck, piano

Further details will be published later.




60 years with TRMS

John Davis cutting the cake. Photo: © Bob Clowes

Congratulations to John Davis, president of Sibelius One, who has just celebrated 60 years’ membership of the Torbay Recorded Music Society at a gala dinner. He has been a committee member for 58 of those years, and is now its president.

Sibelius One’s treasurer Janet Abbotts was guest speaker at the gala. A special card was presented to John Davis on behalf of Sibelius One, and suitable music was played over the course of the evening, including the ‘Korpo’ Trio, Humoresqes for violin and orchestra, Violin Concerto, Finlandia and the Nocturne from the King Christian II Suite. There was a very large cake in blue and white, Finland’s colours, and 18 bottles of wine were presented, all wrapped up in the same colours.

Photo: © Janet Abbotts

Found! Sibelius’s lost villa

‘My family lives here at Pension Suisse [in Rapallo, Italy], but I rented a studio in a hillside villa, surrounded by a very interesting garden: roses in bloom, camellias, almond trees, cactus, agaves, currants, magnolia, cypresses, vines, palms and a manifold variety of flowers’ – letter from Sibelius to Axel Carpelan, February 1901.

Although Pension Suisse in Rapallo still exists, the precise location of Sibelius’s hillside hideaway – where he famously worked on music that would be used in the Second Symphony – has long been believed to be lost in the mists of time. Partly this is because Sibelius gave very few descriptions of the villa and its enlightened owners, the Molfino family, preferring instead to concentrate on its natural beauties, scents and extraordinary vegetation.

Now, however, Federico Ermirio, organizer and artistic director of the Sibelius Festival – Golfo del Tigullio e Riviera, has located this elusive and historically significant building. The villa lies on the Cerisola hill in Fossato di Monti – reachable on foot (for a good walker like Sibelius) in half an hour.

The origins of the villa date back to the sixteenth century, and by the time of Sibelius’s visit it had become a meeting place for artists and cultural personalities, surrounded by a luxuriant park, remarkable for its botanical variety and featuring an amphitheatre. The Molfino family library contained rare editions of Dante’s Divina Commedia. It may be no coincidence that after leaving Rapallo, Sibelius considered  making a setting of part of Dante’s work: in this context he sketched what would become the second theme of the Second Symphony’s slow movement.

Villa Molfino, c. 1900

For decades the villa was abandoned and left to the attention of by vandals and thieves. The property is now divided up, and the new owners are progressively working on restoring it.

Sibelius’s affection for this part of Italy is shown by the fact the he later christened part of Ainola’s garden ‘Rapallo’.

Further information about this exciting new discovery will be published in the July 2018 issue of the Sibelius One Magazine.



Fourth Sibelius Festival – Golfo del Tigullio e Riviera

The fourth Sibelius Festival – Golfo del Tigullio e Riviera in Italy will run from 22 September until 14 October 2018. The programme of lectures and concerts is organized under the artistic direction of composer Federico Ermirio. Below is a list of dates and times for the events at the festival.

22 September, 5pm, Spazio Aperto, Santa Margherita
Speaker: Federico Ermirio

28 September, 9pm, Villa Durazzo, Santa Margherita
Opening concert – Myrsky Ensemble / Folke Gräsbeck, piano
Grieg / Sibelius / Mattson / Elgar

29 September, 9pm, Auditorium San Francesco, Chiavari
Folke Gräsbeck, piano
Sibelius / Merikanto / Nielsen / Alfvén / Leifs / Nystedt

30 September, 11.30am matinée, Grand Hotel Miramare, Santa Margherita
Folke Gräsbeck, piano
Sibelius / Busoni / Sinding

30 September, 9pm, San Martino Church, Zoagli
Myrsky Ensemble
Ravel / Milhaud / Sibelius / von Dohnányi

5 October, 5pm, Spazio Aperto, Santa Margherita
Speaker: Paola De Ferrari
‘I Molfino: collezioni e dispersioni fra Settecento e Ottocento’

5 October, 9pm, Villa Durazzo, Santa Margherita
E. Lasorla, tenor; M. Cesarale, piano
Sibelius / Merikanto / Kuula / Gothoni / Alfvén / Rangström

6 October, 9pm, San Siro Church, Santa Margherita
Jugend-Sinfonieorchester Aargau; Hugo Bollschweiler, conductor
Mendelssohn / Szpilman / Sibelius

7 October, 11.30am matinée, Grand Hotel Miramare, Santa Margherita
S. Braun, soprano; A. Hinrichsen, piano
Sibelius / Grieg

7 October, 9pm, San Siro Church, Santa Margherita
Genova Vocal Ensemble; R. Paraninfo, conductor
Sibelius / Grieg / Rautavaara / Nystedt / Pärt / Sisask / Tormis

12 October, 9pm, Villa Durazzo, Santa Margherita
P. Fisher, violin; M. Fingerhut, piano
Sibelius / Delius / Jenkins / Arnold / Elgar

13 October, 6pm, Teatrino Comunale, Portofino
G. Giovannoni & R. Pellegrino, accordions
Sibelius /Kolz / Solotariov / Olkzak / Piazzolla

14 October, 6pm, Auditorium San Francesco, Chiavari
P. Fisher, violin; M. Fingerhut, piano
Sibelius / Delius / Jenkins / Arnold / Elgar

E. & O.E.

Further information:

Dinosaur named after Sibelius

Dinosaur fossils discovered near Jyväskylä in Finland have been identified as previously unknown species and have been named Sibeliusaurus.

Remains of a number of the creatures – an adult male, an adult female and five female offspring – were found near the small village of Hoho, in boggy ground that has permitted an unprecedented amount of information to be gathered about their appearance, diet and living habits.

It is believed that Sibeliusaurus lived primarily in what is now Finland, but roamed regularly to neighbouring countries and maybe even as far afield as what is now the east coast of North America.

The creature was an omnivore and the remains found at Hoho clearly show traces of a rich and varied diet – plainly it was an Epicurean among dinosaurs, consuming large quantities of Petersonbergeres (a prehistoric mollusc, distant ancestor of the modern oyster, evidently somewhat indigestible).

Comparable species include the Carolusnielsenisaur, mostly found in Denmark, and the mountain-dwelling Griegoraptor from Norway.

Evidence suggests that Sibeliusaurus preferred to live either in solitude or in large herds, and often remained in close proximity to a number of large migratory bird-like creatures.

The creature’s ultimate extinction was not linked to the infamous meteor strike that wiped out many dinosaur species but seems to have been cause by a genetic mutation. Analysis of the fossilized eggs and young of the species suggests that the creature could produce only female offspring.

Emulating recent research into Tyrannosaurus Rex that has revealed the sound it made (as featured on a recent BBC documentary), palaeontologist Dr Aprilli Pila of the Luonnontieteellinen Museo (Natural History Museum) in Helsinki has released a reconstruction of what Sibeliusaurus sounded like. The audio can be heard here:



Six Humoresques: new edition

A new edition of the Six Humoresques, Opp. 87 & 89, has been released by Fennica Gehrman. The new edition is for violin and piano, and is based on the Urtext of the orchestral version. The solo part is corrected and amended according to the composer’s manuscripts. Misprints and misinterpretations found in earlier editions have been corrected.

Sibelius composed the Humoresques in 1917–18 and, as his biographer Erik Tawast­stjerna observed, they capture ‘the lyrical, dancing soul of the violin’. Sibelius himself remarked that they show ‘the anguish of existence… fitfully lit up by the sun’. They were originally for violin and orchestra but have also been performed in an earlier piano reduction by Karl Ekman – about which, however, Sibelius wrote: ‘The piano arrangemenrs by Karl Ekman are not good. They give a wholly false impression of the Humoresques.’

Rather than using the Ekman version, Jani Kyllönen has made a completely new piano reduction for this edition, following the orchestral texture closely.

ISBN-13: 9790550112742
Price: €38.50
Publisher: Fennica Gehrman
Print year: 2018
Length: 53 pages
More information and orders: click here