This podcast explores the enduring legacy of Jean Sibelius in modern Finland and uncovers fascinating details about the composer's early life, influences, involvement in Finland's struggle for independence from Russia and immersion in nature at Ainola. It was recorded by Lesley Riddoch (NH Director and Sibelius fan) during the 'trip of a lifetime' to Lahti, Finland in September 2022 and includes interviews with members of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra in Finland, past and present and a walk through Ainola museum - the home that once gave Finland's most famous composer the quiet and natural inspiration he craved.
'Finland doesn’t have a long history of Kings and castles. We have always been occupied. When we finally became free the country was built on language, literature, music, paintings. Sibelius created the distinctive sound of Finland. You can hear his enthusiasm for the country – the Finnish sagas, the stories, folklore and the language that is ours and only ours - but at the same time you can hear how he was moving towards becoming a universal composer.'
Who wouldn't want to know more about Sibelius after hearing charismatic rising classical star Dalia Stasevska explain why she became Chief Conductor of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra in 2021 and Artistic Director of the world's only annual Sibelius Festival?
Nordic Horizons Director and longtime Sibelius fan Lesley Riddoch certainly did. She recorded and produced this special podcast during a trip to Lahti's Sibelius Festival during early September 2022 . Sadly, rules on copyright mean no excerpts of music can be included - but there's mention of the Lemminkainen Suite (including the Swan of Tuonela), Violin Concerto, Tempest, Finlandia and the Wood Nymph. All are easy to sample online. The interviewees are former manager of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Tuomas Kinberg; Dalia Stasevska (mentioned above) and Ainola museum guide at Sibelius' former lakeside home, Christina Kananen.
Many thanks to the Sibelius Festival, Finnair and Visit Finland for making the trip possible. Thanks to Maarit Kytöharju for permission to use her image of Dalia Stasevska in full flight and to Chris Smith for editing the audio material.
What is Nordic Horizons?
How do the Nordic nations consistently top international league tables?
Between Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland they are the world's best democracy, the best place to be a woman, the best educated people and the happiest. They regularly top UNICEF's child wellbeing index, lead on the Green Transition and have an enduring emphasis on equality that's the envy of the world.
Nordic Horizons is a Scottish-based group that's been interested in learning more from our nearest European neighbours since devolved government resumed 20+ years ago. We've invited experts over to speak in the Scottish Parliament on Norwegian outdoor kindergarten, Finnish prison reform, Swedish electoral systems, Iceland's crowd-sourced constitution and Copenhagen's claim to be the world's first eco metropolis. Since the pandemic, our events have gone online - but all were recorded and will now be available - updated and edited - via this podcast on a monthly basis.