The occupants of Ainola

Margareta Jalas (1908-1988)

The daughters of Jean Sibelius in the 1940s. Katarina Ilves (on the left), Eva Paloheimo, Heidi Blomstedt, Ruth Snellman and Margareta Jalas.

Margareta was born in September 1908, when the Sibeliuses had lived in Ainola for four years. Her sisters Eva and Ruth were already at school in Helsinki. Best of all the shy girl like to spend time in the courtyard with her little sister Heidi. She also played in the cowshed with her neighbour Katri Wasenius. Here the cows were kept that provided milk for the family.

Margareta and her little sister Heidi were called "snow buntings". A playhouse was built for them in the early 1910s. A tennis court was built at the place of the present café and ticket desk in the summer of 1928.

Like her sisters, Margareta took piano lessons, but she chose the violin as her main instrument. She got the instrument from her father, who rarely used it. In the autumn of 1922 Margareta started school in Helsinki.

At the age of fifteen Margareta fell in love with her age mate Jussi Blomstedt (later Jalas), who was also introduced in Ainola in May 1924, when Margareta got the permission to give a big party for young people. Margareta took her matriculation examination in 1927, studying for it in Ainola at the same time as Sibelius was working up the orchestral suites from his incidental music for The Tempest. Later Margareta graduated as a Master of Arts, the only one of Sibelius's daughters to obtain a university degree. She also translated into Finnish Bengt von Törne's book on Sibelius.

Margareta and Jussi were married in August 1929. Margareta's contacts with Ainola remained close, too. The family lived in Helsinki, and Margareta worked as a clerk at the Sibelius Academy. She and her family also visited Ainola for the reason that the conductor Jussi Jalas often asked his father-in-law for directions before conducting his compositions.

Margareta was at Ainola a few days before the composer's death, when the cranes flew low over Ainola. "There they come, the birds of my youth," Sibelius said joyfully to his daughter.

Read Margareta Jalas's memories of Ainola.