"Finland doesn’t have a history of kings and castles. We have always been occupied. When we finally became free it was built on language, literature, painting and music. Jean Sibelius created the idea of what Finland sounds like. You can hear his enthusiasm for discovering the Finnish sagas – folklore that’s ours alone, even as he was becoming a universal composer.”
writes Dalen Stasevska (BBC Symphony Orchestra principle guest conductor)
who returned as principle conductor to Lahiti – home to Jean Sibelius.
Sibelius (1865 – 1957) helped force Finland’s independence in 1917. He was a violinist who found inspiration in Finland’s myths, sagas and folklore, particularly in the poetry of Kalevala.
Jean married Aino Janefelt, whose family was artistic and activist – her three brothers were a painter, composer and writer. Their mother was determined to fight for Finnish independence and she gathered a Finnish-speaking, pro-independence circle around her, including Sibelius.
|Aino Janefelt & Jean Sibelius|
“we fought a 100 years for our freedom and I am part of the generation that achieved it. This is the song of our battle – our hymn of Victory. “ Aino Janefelt
But after a civil war, Russia again attacked during the WW1.
Lahiti built Sibelius hall from wood in 1996. At this time there was 28% unemployment, so it was hard to justify a new concert hall. But the government was keen for a prestigious building as part of the Year of Wood, Plus they had the backing of businesses – Metsa and UMP.
The concert hall now hosts a Sibelius festival and is rated in the top ten for acoustics. The area was rejuvenated around the site with restaurants, and a new marina developed.
(extracted from Lesley Riddoch article - Finnish composer and the lessons we can learn from Nordic neighbours