Daily Life at Ainola

Picture: Photo Collection of the Finnish National Board of Antiques, CC BY 4.0.

There were ten people living in Ainola in the beginning of the 20th century: Jean, Aino and their daughters Eva, Ruth, Katarina, Margareta and Heidi as well as the two maids Aino Kari and Helmi Vainikainen and also the caretaker Heikki “Hesa” Sormunen. 

The everyday life at Ainola revolved in all aspects around Jean Sibelius’s work. He mainly worked during nights and thus slept later than the rest of the family. Silence was an absolute necessity for his work, and his daughters had adapted to this very well. 

‘Father’s work also restricted the family’s life. All the daughters practised playing -piano- and I also the violin and viola, but we were never allowed to practise when father was present. When he went to his everyday walk to Ainola’s park and forest, to the Temple, as he would say, we would practise our music homework. When he got back, the house was silent again.’

Margareta Jalas

The family followed a precise schedule: At 10 am the parents went on a walk. Before that, they had their coffee at nine and breakfast was eaten at noon. They had their afternoon coffee around two or three and dinner around five or six pm. 

Aino Sibelius was responsible of planning the meals, ordering the goods and visitations. The two maids, Aino Kari and Helmi Vainikainen, who worked at Ainola for almost 60 years, were the biggest help for Aino. They were Aino’s friends and they were not treated any differently. 

Picture: Photo collections of the Finnish National Board of Antiques, BY CC 4.0

They also had some farm animals in Ainola: chicken, three roosters (Mikko, Matti and Pekka) and a pig called Olivia. Also Vilkku-horse lived in Ainola for couple of years. 

‘Right now they are playing his First Symphony in Switzerland. The radio reception isn’t always very good, but when a work is familiar I think you can ignore the interference and just focus on the music. Just now they are playing it so beautifully. You can only imagine how wonderful it feels to sit here at home in the midst of the forest and listen to the music that you hold most dear’

Aino Sibelius

In their old days Aino and Jean Sibelius got to enjoy visits from their children, grandchildren and from famous musicians. Some old friends would keep in contact through correspondence. Listening to the radio was an important pastime; you could hear Jean’s music played in different countries almost everyday.