Picture: Matti Kyllönen, 2015.

Jean Sibelius received a Steinway & Sons grand piano as his 50th birthday gift on 8.12.1915. The grand piano was funded by a fundraising organized by Sibelius’s admirers. The grand piano was customized specifically to the composer, thus the text “Makers” has been imprinted under the producers name. Such an acknowledgement is rare in Steinway grand piano’s. The instrument is special also because the action mechanism has been built in Steinway factory in New York while the frame was built in a factory in Hamburg -where the grand piano was also assembled. 

Besides the composer, also Aino Sibelius and their daughters played the grand piano. In the museum, the grand piano has been played countless times during small concerts and recording sessions.

During early spring of 2016, the grand piano action was changed, because the original one had worn out over the years. Matti Kyllönen, who has been maintaining and tuning the grand piano since 1990, suggested that in order to lengthen the lifespan of the instrument, the worn mechanism of the grand piano would be put aside and a new one should be build.

The frame and the wippens of the new mechanism originate from an instrument from the same era and have been repaired for this purpose. The hammer shanks were completely renewed, and provided by Steinway. The new grand piano action was sized based on the original one. Also, the frame of the action mechanism and the weighing of the keyboard has not been changed. The keys are still original and the change in the action mechanism has not affected the appearance of the instrument. 

The sound of the new action mechanism is closer to the original sound of the instrument. The staleness of the old machinery dimmed the sound of the instrument. It created a false idea of what the instrument had originally sounded like.


The new action mechanism was assembled at Elisa Visapää’s Pianonikkarit with the guidance from Matti Kyllönen. Carpenter Erkki Kähkönen made a storage box for the original mechanism. 

The original action mechanism is stored in Ainola, and can be switched with the new one in a couple of hours if needed, for example, for a recording session. 

The project was ordered and supervised by Ainola Foundation and the Finnish National Board of Antiques.