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”Never have I felt as Finnish as in Vienna, Italy and Paris. Never have I felt as Parisian as on Lake Pielinen.”  Jean Sibelius



The cultural excursion In the Footsteps of Sibelius brings the visitor to Lieksa where Aino and Jean Sibelius spent their honeymoon in the summer of 1892. The journey’s another purpose for Sibelius was to seek inspiration from Kalevala and Karelia. The route taken by Sibelius via Lieksa to Viena Karelia was also once travelled by Elias Lönnrot while collecting runes for Kalevala in the early 19th century.


Lieksa offers an opportunity to take a boat trip from the harbour to Monola on large rapid boats. The same route was taken by Aino and Jean Sibelius when they arrived to spend their honeymoon on the shores of Pielinen. The day culminates in the dinner concert at the restaurant of Break Sokos Hotel Koli with a grand view overlooking Lake Pielinen. Jean Sibelius wrote in his diary while visiting Koli in 1909: “At Koli. One of my life’s greatest experiences.”


During the excursion, cellist Jussi Makkonen and pianist Nazig Azezian describe the background and tell compelling stories about Sibelius’ honeymoon on Pielinen. At the excursion day’s concerts, the artists perform songs composed by Sibelius during and after the honeymoon.A music video including Sibelius’ Impromptu Op. 5/5 of Sibelius’ honeymoon in Lieksa was filmed in the summer of 2014 with the support of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. Sibelius composed Impromptu Op. 5/5 after the honeymoon. The music video was filmed in places linked to the honeymoon, such as the Monola granary where Jean and Aino were spending their honeymoon.


In the video, pianist Nazig Azezian plays a piano on a boat – a similar square piano also travelled with Jean and Aino on a boat from the Lieksa harbour to Monola.


The Finnish TV station MTV3 reported about the cultural excursions in their evening news on the 28th of May 2015:

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