Eric O. W. Ehrström, honorary addresses for Sibelius, 1925

Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation’s collection comprises one hundred sketches for honorary or memorial adresses that Eric O.W. Ehrström has designed. He created them in their time for importat people, such as artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, General Mannerheim, artist Ilya Repin, cabinet minister Miina Sillapää, artist Anders Zorn or composer Jean Sibelius. There are seven sketches for Jean Sibelius. This year we celebrate the 150-year-anniversary of his birth.

Ingenious artist, the composer of the native Finnish music, Jean Sibelius became an honorary member of Finland’s Art Association as well as Art Academy. The address in the capture were his invitation. Ehrström made the sketch for the address supposedly in 1925 when Sibelius turned 60 years old. The Foundation of Finland’s Art Academy was not established until 1939. During the time before that, however, people referred to Finland’s Art Association’s Board of Trustees as Finland’s Art Academy.

Celebrating his 50th anniversary, Jean Sibelius was initiated the first Honorary member of The Helsinki Academy of music in 1915. Eric O. W. Ehrström sketched an honorary address. It wished the composer ”a continuous creative force for the benefit of art, the glory of the fatherland, the joy of the contemporaries as well as the future generations”.

Ehrström made another sketch in 1915, where ”the great man of Finnish music” is praised in rather hesitant Finnish expressions: ”With pried and joy we, Your fellow citizens, have noted how Your art, originating from Finnish tones, has step by step conquered new fields and created for its ingenious master an undeniable world fame. No other man has ever been able to achieve this. In this way, no other man has ever before been able to induce the compassion of the civilised world toward our small home country…”

At the turn of the century, people had celebrated Sibelius as a national hero. Soon after that he made his international breakthrough.

Finnish newspapers published several-page-long articles on his 50th birthday. Likewise, the stores in Helsinki had decorated their windows with Sibelius-theme and the composer entertained anniversary delegations. Series of anniversary concerts raised Sibelius-fever.

The composer received a magnificent grand piano as a result of a citizens’ collection. According to the biographical information, however, the bailiff attached his takeover sign on it right after the celebrations had ended. In February 1916, singer Ida Ekman arrived at Ainola together with the return of a second citizens’ collection. It amortised part of Sibelius’ debts and contributed to the fact that Steinway could stay at Ainola, after all.

Helena Hänninen

Eric O. W. Ehrström, honorary address for Sibelius, 1925, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation.
Eric O. W. Ehrström, Sibeliuksen kunnia-Eric O. W. Ehrström, honorary address for Sibelius, 1925, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation., 1925, Gösta Serlachiuksen taidesäätiö.