Ainola – Järvenpää, Lake District, Finland

A Shrine to Jean Sibelius

Jean Sibelius was Finland’s greatest composer, and the streams of pilgrims who come from all parts of the world to visit his home, named after his wife, Aino, are a testimony to the reverence in which he is held.

Although born in 1865 in nearby Hämeenlinna, Finland’s oldest inland town (founded in 1639), Sibelius lived in this modern villa in the south for half a century until his death in 1957. Considered avant-garde at the time of its construction, the house was designed by Finnish architect Lars Sonck, who was already known for his design of the summer residence of the president of Finland. Both Sibelius and his wife are buried on the grounds.

The museum is not conducive to concerts, but try not to leave Finland without hearing his work performed by the Helsinki Philhar­monic Orchestra in Finlandia Hall during the winter season (September through May). Hel­sinki’s late summer arts (and music-intensive) festival is Scandinavia’s largest and one of its most important. Originating as Sibelius Week in the 1950s, it has grown to include all forms of dance and music, from jazz to pop, with the performance of Sibelius’s music always a much-awaited highlight.

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