top of page

Honeymoon moods in Monola

Emmy Järnefelt at Tottesund in her letter to Aino Sibelius, dated 28 June 1892:

“And now you are on the shore of Lake Pielinen. I wonder if the nature is very beautiful and if you are enjoying your time there. It is, in fact, a funny thing to ask that, as you would probably enjoy yourselves even if you lived in the middle of a burned forest.”

Elli Järnefelt in her letter to Aino Sibelius on 3 July 1892:

“We really waited for your letter, and we were really upset when no letters came, but we were even more happy when it finally reached us. You would not believe what an impression your latest letter made on everyone. I can see you so clearly as a busy and energetic wife in front of me, and I can very well imagine how excited you are about the shelves and other corners in the granary. Have you already done the laundry and mangled the clothes?”

Source: Aino Sibeliuksen kirjeitä Järnefelt-suvun jäsenille. Edited by SuviSirkku Talas. SKS:n toimituksia 756. Gummerus, Jyväskylä 2000.

* * * 

Jean Sibelius’s honeymoon memories are described in a letter dated 12 December 1945. He sent it as a response to a letter dated 6 December 1945, written by the teachers and students of the Surpeenvaara school who congratulated the composer maestro nearing his 80th birthday. Sibelius’s letter says:

“My wife and I were very delighted to receive your greetings from the shores of beautiful Lake Pielinen, from the place where we spent a wonderful summer a long time ago. The hills and silent forests of Koli and the people we met, especially the hosts of Monola, remain dear in our memory. With heartfelt greetings, Jean Sibelius”

Sources: Pielinen Museum archives. Copied letters.

* * *

A letter written by Aino Sibelius in Savonlinna to Jean Sibelius, dated 20 July 1892:

“You would not believe how the parting moment distressed me. If you only were here with me now! - - I felt so sorry for you because of the horrible weather last night. I wonder how you managed to travel, my dear. I hope you did not get wet in the rain or catch a cold, my darling. I am so restless.”

Added to the letter afterwards in Aino’s handwriting:

“On our way back from Monola, J travelled to East Karelia from Joensuu to draw inspiration from rune-singers. On many occasions, the trip required riding on horseback, and the route was difficult in other ways as well, so I went from Joensuu to Savonlinna and to Kuopio to visit my aunt Aurora. A-o.

Source: Aino Sibeliuksen kirjeitä Järnefelt-suvun jäsenille. Edited by SuviSirkku Talas. SKS:n toimituksia 756. Gummerus, Jyväskylä 2000.

* * * 

A report by Jean Sibelius on using his grant, written for the University of Helsinki, dated 11 November 1892:

“The aim of my trip was to hear kantele-playing and rune-singing in Karelia and learn about them. – In early June, I arrived at Monola at Lake Pielinen. The kantele-playing in Northern Karelia, even though it is quite developed, is missing the sensitivity and warmth that are characteristic to the kantele-playing in the southern Karelia; the melodies often have banal turns, and neither could I find any specific Finnish melodic patterns. However, Mikko Tolvanen’s kantele-playing was an exception. A few of the couple of dozen melodies that I got from him are good, in my opinion. I only found weak traces of rune-singing in this region.

After spending some time in the area and composing music to a few wonderful poems by a folk poet in the meantime, I travelled south. As near as in Ilomantsi, the kantele-playing was already something completely different than what I had heard before. But I did not stay there, as I travelled further, to Korpiselkä.”

Source: Redogörelse öfver undertecknads studieresa i Karelen sommaren 1892 av Jean Sibelius.

University of Helsinki archives: Consistory archive, arrived petitions 1892 (39/509).

Translation: Elli Oinonen-Edén.

* * *

Sju sånger af Runeberg

The songs Sibelius composed in Monola complemented the series of songs he had composed to Finnish national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg’s poems in 1890–1891. ”Sju sånger af Runeberg” was released before Christmas 1892. Publishing company Otava marketed the collection prominently and with colourful slogans on the front page of the Päivälehti newspaper with the headline ”New Christmas Literature”.

A review from the Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper: “One of the most entertaining phenomena of music literature this Christmas. We already know what love, what reverie, and what a warm feeling in general resides in Sibelius’s music. This is also complemented by a Finnish spirit that is presented in a powerful way.”

Source: Päivälehti 20 Dec and 22 Dec 1892. Available at

Opening hours

Open in the summer.

Opening hours in 2020: 


Tuesday–Sunday from 11AM to 4PM, closed on Mondays

Open for groups on request.


Adults 5 €

Children (ages 7 to 12) 1 €

Free entry for children under 7 years


Monola Granary

Monolanniementie, Lieksa

(guide signs from Vartialantie) 

bottom of page