Jean and Aino: In the very trees of Ainola

When Jean Sibelius and Aino Järnefelt first chanced upon each other, their eyes locked for so long that she faltered. He was visiting her family flat in Helsinki and was providing, with her brother Armas, musical accompaniment to a pantomime being put up by the ladies of the house. So intense was Jean’s blue-eyed gaze that Aino could not go on with her part. Thus began the relationship of “the prettiest girl in Finland” and her greatest composer. Continue reading Jean and Aino: In the very trees of Ainola

Sibelius and the Fifth Symphony

ON THE EVENING of the 20th of September 1957, Jean Sibelius died. He was aged 91.

Not far away in the capital of Finland, the Helsinki Orchestra, under the baton of Sir Malcolm Sargent, was performing the composer’s Fifth Symphony at the exact time of the composer’s death.

I have constantly wondered about this little piece of history, almost sentimentally romantic, yet heroic in its appropriateness. Heroic because while the composer was struggling with the Symphony between 1914 and 1919, the world was plunged into its first great modern war. Continue reading Sibelius and the Fifth Symphony