150th anniversary year: Jean Sibelius

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Thinking of Helsinki and Jean Sibelius the very first thing that comes in mind is often the Sibelius Monument, designed by Finnish sculptor Eila Hiltunen and revealed 10 years after the death of the beloved composer. But in reality you can find traces of Sibelius in so many places. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Finnish composer and yesterday, 8th of December was his birthday and the day of Finnish music. (See below how we celebrated it!)Sibelius150_10
Sibelius was born on 8 December 1865 in Hämeenlinna in the Grand Duchy of Finland, an autonomous part of the Russian Empire, but he moved to Helsinki where he studied and later also taught in the Helsinki Music Institute (today known as Sibelius Academy). Many of his masterpieces were performed for the very first time in the main hall of the Helsinki University or in the Swedish Theatre. Sibelius and his wife Aino moved to Ainola by the Lake of Tuusula, and lived there together with their 4 daughters, but they returned to Helsinki in 1939 and lived in the yellow building below from 28.9.1939 until to 7.12.1942. Today the street carries his name, and is called Sibeliuksen katu. 
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Nowadays Sibelius comes to mind also in the Senate Square, where the main building of the University of Helsinki remainds me of him as well as the Lutheran Cathedral as his funeral was hold there.

In Helsinki, the musicians of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Radio Symphony Orchestra carried the coffin into Helsinki Cathedral while Tapani Valsta played Bach on the organ.

Before nine o’clock in the evening the cathedral was opened to the public, and it remained open until midnight. During this time 17,000 people filed past the coffin to pay their respects. Students stood guard all through the night. (Sibelius.fi)

Yesterday around 3 000 people gathered on the steps in front of the cathedral to sing Finlandia to commemorate our national composer. Also the sun decided to honor Sibelius by lighting up the square. The event was arranged by the students of the Sibelius Academy and it was amazing to listen to all those people sing together. I wasn’t the only one who needed a tissue to dry my eyes. (Have a look at the video here!)
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