Albert Edelfelt: Composer Jean Sibelius (undated). Ateneum Art Museum.

No other individual has had such an impact on the international classical music scene than national hero Jean Sibelius.

Commencing in December last year, celebrations have been taking place in honour of the 150th anniversary of his birth. In the midst of these Ateneum Art Museum is currently exhibiting an extensive jubilee exhibition. Taking a closer look at the composer’s contacts with the art scene of his day, Sibelius and the World of Art is on display until 22 March.

The sounds created by Sibelius inspired a great many artists, with their own work creating a reciprocal effect on the composer. Siberlius was surrounded by art during his lifetime: his home could be found amongst the cultural landscape at Lake Tuusula, his artistic circle of friends and relatives, and the art collection at Ainola all had great influence on him.

A more specific example of this artistic exchange can be found in his 1892 tone poem En Saga, which would inspire Akseli Gallen-Kallela two years later to paint a work bearing the same name.

The links between the composer’s work and the art scene of his time are found to be both on a personal level as well as in the context of the art movements of his era. The exhibition traverses the landscape from Sibelius’ youth to his international breakthrough. Fantasies and myths surrounding the composer, as well as his symphonic landscapes and nature motifs are also explored in detail.

The website www.sibelius150.fi offers more celebrations,

James O’Sullivan
Finnish National Gallery / Yehia Eweis