Internationally Interesting Ainola

Ainola didn’t have an actual guest book. Memories of the countless visitors were recorded, for example, on congratulations cards or in the form of album covers – or even written on the bottom of a chair, just like Wilhelm Kempffin’s visit was recorded in 1922.

The best records of Ainola’s visitors can be found from Ainola’s maid’s, Aino Kari’s, diary as she meticulously kept track of all the dignitaries visiting Ainola. Such visitations significantly affected the housework in Ainola, therefore, Aino Kari has also made markings of what was served to each guest.

“I sang to Sibelius couple of his songs and after I finished he stood up, flounced towards me, wrapped his arms around me and embraced me gently. ‘My roof is too low for you’, Sibelius uttered and then shouted loudly to his wife: ‘No coffee, but champagne’ “.

Marian Andersson recalls her visit to Ainola 1933

Violinist Isaac Stern (1920-2001) visited Ainola at least twice. In 1951, Sibelius familiarized the violinist with his violin concerto and it’s performance. During his visit, Stern was originally supposed to only play pieces of the concerto, as if as an sample, but ended up playing the whole concerto while Sibelius accompanied with the piano. Because Sibelius and Isaac Stern came along so well, Stern ended up staying longer than he was supposed to, and was forced to get a private plane to Paris so he wouldn’t miss his next concert. Stern visited Ainola for the last time in September 1997.

Sibelius’ had to also occasionally act as hosts to guests of the state, as a visit to Ainola was often linked to state visits. When the Swedish king Gustaf V visited Ainola during his state visit in 1925, Aino was asked to join queen Victoria’s entourage. A signed picture of the queen serves as a memory of this event in Ainola.

Many official guests of the state still come to visit Ainola. Often the atmosphere of these visits can become informal and homely, when it is revealed that the visiting fireman has an authentic and personal interest towards Sibelius and Ainola.

Pianist Wilhelm Kempff, 1922
Singer Marian Anderson, 1933
Conductor Serge Koussevitzky and Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1935
Pianist Harriet Cohen, 1936
Photographer Yusuf Karsh, 1949
Singer Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, 1951
Conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, 1954
Violinist Yehudi Menuhin, 1955
Conductor Eugene Ormandy and Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, 1955
Composer Igor Stravinsky, 1961
Singer Jussi Björling, 1965
Violinist Oleg Kagan, 1965
Violinist David Oistrah
Composer Aram Hatshaturjan
Pianist Emil Gilels
Violinist Viktoria Mullova, 1981
Film Director Woody Allen
Japanese Prince Akihito (later emperor Hirohito) and Princess Michiko, 1985