Tag Archives: Ainola

Sibelius for Chinese President’s wife



Folke Gräsbeck playing Sibelius’s Steinway at Ainola (Photo: © Sibelius One)

The pianist Folke Gräsbeck has given a special Sibelius concert at Ainola for Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping of China.

The performance took place on Wednesday 5 April 2017. On Sibelius’s newly renovated Steinway piano, Folke Gräsbeck performed The Solitary Fir Tree, The Birch and The Spruce (from ‘The Trees’, Op. 75), The Columbine from Op. 85, Con passione and Finlandia. The rarity Con passione, JS 53 (1919), was selected because it was composed for the artist Oscar Parviainen, several of whose paintings are at Ainola.

The concert was organized at the instigation of Jenni Haukio, wife of President Sauli Niinistö of Finland, who knew of Peng Liyuan’s great liking for the music of Sibelius.


Peng Liyuan (photo: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence)

Born in Shandong, Peng Liyuan is head of the Chinese Song and Dance Ensemble in the General Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army, and ranked first class in the civil service with the military rank of major general; she is the wife of the current Chinese leader Xi Jinping. The daughter of an opera singer, she gained popularity as a soprano from her regular appearances on the annual CCTV New Year’s Gala, and has won many honours in singing competitions nationwide. She was the first in China to obtain a Master’s degree in traditional ethnic music. Since 2011 she has also been World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

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Birthday concert at Ainola

ohjelmaa-ainolassa-8-12-2016www

A concert of Sibelius’s music for violin and piano will be held at Sibelius’s home, Ainola, at 6 pm on Thursday 8 December 2016.

The performers will be Kaisa Porra-Hänninen, violin, and Kari Hänninen, piano.

The concert will be introduced by the performers, and Kaisa Porra-Hänninen will also discuss Sibelius’s own Serafin violin, on which she will be playing.

Tickets €22.50 / €11.50 (children aged 4−16) from Lippu.fi (click here)

The Ainola plot will be open on Sibelius’s birthday from 8 am until 6 pm. Members of the public can visit the composer’s grave and see Ainola’s garden in winter.

The museum shop and Café Aulis will be open from 10 am until 6 pm.

Students from the Keskisen Uudenmaan Musiikkiopisto in Järvenpää will play and sing at Café Aulis from 4 pm–5 pm that day.

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Joseph Tong plays Sibelius in Finland

JoeTong

The renowned British pianist Joseph Tong will perform a selection of Sibelius’s piano works, including the composer’s own transcription of Finlandia, in three recitals at prominent venues in Finland in early September. The works also feature on his from his new CD on the Quartz label.

Joseph Tong studied at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music in London, making his Wigmore Hall début in 1997 as a winner of the Maisie Lewis Young Artists Award.

Sunday 6th September, Helsinki Music Centre, Camerata Hall, 7.00pm http://www.musiikkitalo.fi/en/content/sibelius-150th-anniversary-piano-recital
Sibelius:
Kyllikki, Op. 41
Five Pieces ‘The Trees’, Op. 75
Five Pieces ‘The Flowers’, Op. 85
Five Romantic Pieces, Op. 101
Juha T. Koskinen: Piccarda on the Moon
Sibelius:
Sonatina in F sharp minor, Op. 67 No. 1
Five Esquisses, Op. 114
Two Rondinos, Op. 68
Finlandia, Op. 26

Tuesday 8th September, Ainola, Järvenpää, 6.00pm
A Sibelius piano recital on the composer’s Steinway at Ainola
http://www.ainola.fi/eng_index.php
Sibelius:
Kyllikki, Op. 41
Five Pieces ‘The Trees’, Op. 75
Five Pieces ‘The Flowers’, Op. 85
Five Romantic Pieces, Op. 101
Sonatina in F sharp minor, Op. 67 No. 1
Five Esquisses, Op. 114
Two Rondinos, Op. 68
Finlandia, Op. 26

Wednesday 9th September, Hämeenlinna Town Hall, 7.00pm
Programme same as 8th September

All the details for these concerts can also be found at  http://www.sibelius150.org/en

Ainola railway station

Ainola Railway Station (photo © Junafani / Wilimedia Commons)
Ainola Railway Station (photo © Junafani / Wilimedia Commons)

The closest railway station to Jean Sibelius’s home, Ainola, has been renamed Ainola to mark the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

The station was named Kyröla until 30th June 2015, and is situated between Kerava and Järvenpää on the line from Helsinki to Riihimäki. It takes approx. 20 minutes to walk from the station to Ainola.

This is not the first time that Sibelius and his world have featured on Finnish railways. From 1992 until 2010 a daily train from Helsinki to St Petersburg bore the name ‘Sibelius’.

 

Sibelius on original instruments

Photo: © Sibelius One
Photo: © Sibelius One

 

A CD of Sibelius’s works for violin and piano and songs has been recorded at his home, Ainola, using the composer’s own violin and his own Steinway piano.

The recording features Satu Jalas (Sibelius’s granddaughter), violin, Lilli Paasikivi, soprano, and Folke Gräsbeck, piano.

The programme features a generous selection of Sibelius’s most popular works in these genres including the Romance in F major and Rondino for violin and piano, and songs such as Våren flyktar hastigt, Svarta rosor and Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings möte.

The CD will be released by the Ainola Foundation in June 2015. Further information will be published later.

Folke Gråsbeck has also recently recorded a Sibelius solo piano CD on the Ainola Steinway for BIS Records (BIS-2132).

Sibelius’s piano

Folke Gräsbeck playing Sibelius’s piano at Ainola
Folke Gräsbeck playing Sibelius’s piano at Ainola

A new recording made on Sibelius’s own piano at Ainola will be released by BIS Records in early 2015, marking both the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’s birth and the 100th anniversary of the piano itself. The Stein­way instrument heard on this recording arrived at Ainola in 1915, as a gift paid for by 144 of Sibelius’s grateful supporters on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday.

Performed by Folke Gräsbeck, the programme contains a wide-ranging selection of Sibelius’s piano music, familiar and unfamiliar, including also some of the composer’s own piano transcriptions of his orchestral music. Folke Gräsbeck’s credentials as a Sibelius interpreter are second to none: he participates on 24 discs in the complete Sibelius Edition project for BIS Records including the complete solo piano music (10 CDs) and discs of songs, works with solo instruments and with choir. He also gave the first piano recital at the Sibelius Hall in Lahti in 2000, with a pro­gramme consisting exclusively of Sibelius piano music premières. His reper­toire also includes Sibelius’s Piano Quintet, four piano quartets and five piano trios. Gräsbeck has performed 397 out of Sibelius’s total of approx. 600 works, plus fragments, and has given the first performances of 90 of them. This new recording was made in May 2014.

‘Honest, Doctor, I only smoke ten a day…’

Sibelius-cigar_r2©Leon_Chia
Photo: © Leon Chia

Evidence of Sibelius’s famed cigar smoking is preserved at his home, Ainola, in the majestic shape of this monster cigar, specially made as a gift for the composer. The cigar dwarfs  the famous ‘Satu’ portrait of the young composer by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, the bottom of which can be glimpsed in this photo, taken in Ainola’s library in August 2014.

Finland’s Museum Card

museokortti-prototyyppi

Coming to Finland in 2015 is the Museokortti (‘Museum Card’), a single non-transferrable card that will provide access for a full year to all the country’s museums – including of course Ainola, the Sibelius Museum in Turku and Sibelius’s birth house in Hämeenlinna. The card will cost approx. €50.

Further information (in Finnish) here