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Sibelius iN korpo festival

The Festival Sibelius in Korpo has taken place since 2002. During these 16 years, 2002–2017, more than 270 compositions by Jean Sibelius have been performed, 26 of them as world première performances. The festival has gained a reputation as a special forum for Sibelius’s music – at the concerts rare compositions from his youth are heard alongside well-known masterpieces. The aim is to shed light on the various stylistic phases of Sibelius’s œuvre. Since the start in 2002, the programmes have been designed by the festival’s artistic director, pianist Folke Gräsbeck. Since 2012, baritone Petri Kirkkomäki has been director of administration.  

‘The Sibelius siblings lifted Uncle Pehr’s square piano into the fishing boat, and they played piano trio on the waves. Janne played the violin, Christian the cello and Linda the piano.’ 

Historical background

The Sibelius family spent summer holidays in Korpo in the Åbo (Turku) archipelago in 1886 and 1887. The first summer the family stayed on the big northern island of Norrskata, at the Vidix House, situated on the beautiful Hafträsk Bay. The second summer was spent in the centre of the Korpo church village, at Korpo Manor. Sibelius composed a major piano trio each summer, in 1886 the ‘Hafträsk’ Trio, JS 207, and in 1887 the ‘Korpo’ Trio, JS 209. Both works are the foremost compositions from their respective years. In addition, Sibelius composed around 20 other works. These have formed the basis of the festival’s concert programmes. 

The festival takes place regularly on the penultimate weekend of July. Since 2011, concerts have been arranged on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In addition, a welcoming ceremony has been held on Saturday afternoon at the Sibelius monument (depicting the young Sibelius with his violin). The monument was unveiled in 2006 at the centre of the church village, close to the medieval Korpo Church. Orchestral and choir concerts have been held at the church, while other concerts have been arranged mainly at Korpo Manor (1805), designed by the Italian architect Charles Bassi. The manor’s famous musical salon is located upstairs, and provides an excellent acoustic. In this salon, the Sibelius family members spent many lengthy musical soirées during the summer of 1887. Their hostess Ina Wilenius, a talented pianist, was also an active player. In 2003, a high quality Grotrian Steinweg grand piano was acquired, and many of the concerts have been broadcast by Finnish Radio.