Ruth Snellman (1894-1976)
Ruth, aged around twenty, astride the ill-tempered horse, Vilkku.
Ruth was almost ten years old, when the family moved to Ainola in 1904. It was to Ruth that the composer showed the location of his pistol, in case it should be needed when the composer was on a working trip. Ruth was a vigorous organiser. She had been interested in the theatre since early childhood, and the children of the artistic families around Lake Tuusula soon put on theatrical evenings, for example at Ahola.
In 1908 Ruth moved to go to school in Helsinki. She stayed at Martha Tornell's apartment. Like her other sisters, she attended the coeducational secondary school, Suomalainen yhteiskoulu, but for many years she continued to spend weekends and holidays at Ainola. In August 1912 Ruth was overjoyed for two reasons: a horse called Vilkku had been purchased for her at Ainola, and her father allowed her to go to theatre school, although she had not finished the ninth form. Indeed, in 1913 she had her debut at the National Theatre in Minna Canth's Papin tytär (A Clergyman's Daughter).
It was in theatrical circles that Ruth first met her sweetheart, the actor Jussi Snellman. At first Sibelius was somewhat sceptical about the age difference of the couple – eighteen years. However, in 1915, two days before Christmas, Ruth and Jussi had the opportunity to show their engagement rings to family and friends at Ainola. During her engagement Ruth had an accident, when the ill-tempered horse, Vilkku, threw her off his back. The engagement ring disappeared, and because of concussion Ruth had a temporary loss of memory – with no idea of whom she was engaged to. To everybody's relief her memory was quickly restored while she convalesced at Ainola. In July 1916, a few days before the marriage ceremony there was a "wedding banns ball" at Ainola. Ruth's sister Katarina wrote a colourful description of the occasion in her diary. The young people present were said to have danced - and fought - until six in the morning. The wedding was celebrated a few days later.
Ruth moved permanently to Helsinki, but her connection with Ainola was to remain close throughout the decades. Christmases were spent at Ainola, and it was Ruth's and Jussi's task to decorate the Christmas tree there.
Read Ruth Snellman's memories of Ainola.