Akseli Gallen-KallelaSymposium© Collection particulière / Photo Jani Kuusenaho / Tampere Art Museum
When it was published on 28 February 1835, the first Kalevala or Old Karelian Songs about Ancient Times of the Finnish People
, gave the inhabitants of today’s Finland both their past and their future. In Finland itself, this event gave rise to a cultural movement, which reached its peak at the turn of the century through writers, painters, musicians, academics and philologers. It was the background to the years when Sibelius belonged to an informal circle that brought together artists who championed "Art Nouveau". These included the conductor Robert Kajanus, the composer Oskar Merikanto and the painter Akselli Gallen-Kallela who caused a scandal with his painting Symposium
(1894) by representing these figures with staring eyes and elbows leaning on a table littered with bottles of wine and half-empty glasses.
"You could give free rein to your imagination and your ideas. […] These exchanges of views with like-minded people were very stimulating – they confirmed my intentions, and gave me confidence!" Sibelius admitted in 1935.
We will be able to witness these fruitful exchanges, the musical echo of these discussions, in a series of concerts presented by the Musée d’Orsay on the occasion of the Gallen-Kallela exhibition.