Sibelius as a traveller

Sibelius was a great traveller. He made countless visits to the Nordic countries and many other European countries. The composer visited the United States once and Berlin over 30 times. The journeys can be divided into educational visits, holidays and concert trips. Often the journey had all these functions.

The concert trips had three main functions: he made his music known by conducting it with various orchestras. He became acquainted with new music and received influences from contemporary composers in concerts. It is worth noting that he composed the second symphony in Rapallo, the third symphony in Paris and Tapiola in Rome.

Although Sibelius travelled a great deal in Finland, he should primarily be regarded as a European. He made 41 trips abroad in as many years. Throughout his whole active period, he was abroad on average once a year, which is quite an achievement, considering the means of transport available in those days – and Sibelius's financial resources!

Sibelius felt at ease on trains and ships. He occasionally used trams and even the ”underground” in Paris, but he avoided coaches, to say nothing of aircraft. During his long life he never entered an aeroplane. When he became a wealthy man in the 1930s, he discovered yet another pleasure. The journey from Ainola to Helsinki went more comfortably in a taxi.

According to his own words, Sibelius could work successfully either in the quiet of the countryside or in a hotel room in a big city. Consequently, many of his works were completed abroad. But he had yet another reason for going abroad: inspiration. Some of his travel decisions were quite obviously made on the spur of the moment, even at just a few hours' notice. Without Aino's practicality and routine Sibelius would have travelled without a suitcase.