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Taking a seat in the park with Sibelius

A unique auditory experience awaits visitors to Hämeenlinna's Sibelius Park on Monday, the 149th anniversary of the composer’s birth in the city.

Sibeliuspatsas Hämeenlinnassa
Hämeenlinna honours its most famous son. Image: Ville Välimäki / Yle

Hämeenlinna unveils Finland’s first musical experience park on Monday, December 8 – which marks the 149th anniversary of the composer’s birth in the city. Since 2011, it is also been observed as a national flag, dubbed Finnish Music Day.

Erkki Korhonen, director of the Sibelius Birth Town Foundation and former director of the Finnish National Opera, explains that the benches in Sibelius Park are being equipped with motion sensors that launch music players when someone sits on them.

Each of the five benches will play a different piece from Sibelius’s Five Pieces for Piano, written between 1914 and 1919. Aptly, they are named after types of trees: the Rowan tree (or mountain ash), the Fir, the Aspen, the Birch and – the best-known of the set – the Spruce.

The benches are spaced sufficiently far apart to avoid any cacophony when several pieces are playing at once, says Korhonen. He adds that the nearest such musical park is in Poland, and that this is apparently the first of its kind in the Nordic countries.

Sibelius lived in Hämeenlinna until he went to study in Helsinki at the age of 19.

The south-central city kicks off celebrations of Sibelius’s 150th birthday on New Year’s Day. There are also many events in Helsinki, Lahti, Loviisa and around the world.

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