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Seeking out the landscapes that inspired Sibelius
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Finland: On the trail of Jean Sibelius

To mark 150 years since the composer Jean Sibelius's birth, Harriet O'Brien seeks out the Finnish landscapes that inspired him

2:09PM BST 01 Jul 2015

It was an epic landscape. From my hilltop vantage point I gazed across a tremendous lake draped in mist and surrounded by a great swathe of fir trees. A luminous quality to the light added to the drama of standing on hallowed ground. In this country of hushed, snowclad winters, golden summers and prodigious forests, the rousing yet serene music of Jean Sibelius’s Finlandia is practically a national anthem and they say it was probably inspired by this view over Lake Aulanko. Probably: the element of equivocation contributed to the feeling of having stepped into a magnificent legend.

A couple of residents in the town of Hameenlinna had directed me to this famous spot in the Aulanko Nature Reserve, adding that to appreciate the spirit of Sibelius I should listen as much as look. So I tuned into the quiet, increasingly absorbed by the percussion of wind in the trees and the hammering of a woodpecker.


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