At the source of Finnishness


Ainola – the home of Sibelius

Today, as part of the social programme of the Attending and Neglecting People conference, we visited the nearby Ainola, home of Aino and Jean Sibelius. Also for me, this was the first time, believe it or not.

After a full day of fascinating talks, my head is too full of all kinds of ideas that it is hard to put into writing the feelings and thoughts that the visit evoked, so I’ll let a couple of photos do the talking. But, this place is at the same time so normal and so mythical, it is weird to think that what we nowadays think as the quintessential Finnish culture, in fact the building blocks of Finnishness itself, who we are as people, as a nation, was largely forged by these few artists and their vision. Their interpretation of who we are and where we come from, what is relevant, salient and interesting in us, has become the blueprint of our culture.


Wood anemone in full bloom in the Ainola garden.


Jean’s piano.

SibeliusThis is the gravestone (or a metal slab) in the garden, where both Jean and his wife Aino are buried. It is a simple, minimalistic, but a very powerful monument. Our guide told us that Aino (who died 12 years after Jean) had wished that her name were to appear in smaller letters than Jean’s name, as she had only a supporting role. But, knowing that she raised and home-schooled their 5 daughters, largely relying on food she grew in that garden, took care of everything so that Jean could focus on his work, I saw this as the author’s signature, on the monument of the man she made. The flowers by the grave were also clearly meant for her. Thank you Jean for music that defined a nation, thank you Aino for Jean and his music.


Another beautiful sunset at Gustavelund.

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