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The Opening Ceremony

The house was completed in the fall of 1931, but it was officially inaugurated in May of the following year.

Konservatoriums 50-årsjubileum

‘Long live the 50-year-old Conservatory and may the music ever ring clear under Finland’s new ridge-pole’

  • Alice and Emil Wikström in their congratulatory telegram on May 22 1932

The new Conservatory building was taken into use in September 1931, but the anniversary ceremony was not held until the following spring, along with the 50th anniversary of the Helsinki Conservatory. The celebration was organised in connection with the Nordic Music Festival, as reported by Helsingin Sanomat on 22 May 1932: ‘As is known, the new Helsinki Conservatory building has been in use for some time now; however, in connection with the Nordic Music Festival, the building is today officially inaugurated with due ceremony. The Helsinki Conservatory has been in operation for 50 years, so today’s ceremony will also celebrate the semicentennial birthday of the Finnish Music Academy.’

The grand opening ceremony of the Conservatory building and the 50th anniversary of the Helsinki Conservatory were held on 22 May 1932 in connection with the Nordic Music Festival. Nordic Flags flying on the Conservatory flagpoles.
The grand opening ceremony of the Conservatory building and the 50th anniversary of the Helsinki Conservatory were held on 22 May 1932 in connection with the Nordic Music Festival. Nordic Flags flying on the Conservatory flagpoles. Finnish Heritage Agency Picture Collections, Press Photo Archive, Otava.

The celebrations began at 10.30 at the tomb of the founder of the Conservatory, Martin Wegelius. At 12 noon, the proper 50th birthday ceremony began in the concert hall of the Conservatory. Representatives of the state, diplomatic corps, economy, sciences and art were present. President of the Republic of Finland P. E. Svinhufvud and Mrs Ellen Svinhufvud also graced the celebration with their presence.

Opening ceremony and the 50th anniversary of the Helsinki Conservatory on 22 May 1932.
Opening ceremony and the 50th anniversary of the Helsinki Conservatory on 22 May 1932. The President of the Republic of Finland, P.E. Svinhufvud and Mrs Ellen Svinhufvud on the lower balcony in the middle. University of the Arts Helsinki / Sibelius Academy archive.

The prelude of the programme was the Alla marcia of Sibelius’ Karelia series, presented by the Conservatory student orchestra under the leadership of Professor Melartin. Melartin Hymn was performed together by the student choir and orchestra. Miss Maire Halava, who performed the compositions of Sulho Ranta, Selim Palmgren and Erkki Melartin on the piano, appeared as the representative of the students. The final music number was two parts of Ilmari Hannikainen’s quartet for the piano and strings.

Minister of Education Antti Kukkonen gave a speech, after which composer Leevi Madetoja recounted the history of the Conservatory over the past 50 years. At the end of celebrations, Professor Melartin presented the foreign conservatory directors whom the Helsinki Conservatory had decided to invite as honorary members.

Congratulatory telegram sent by sculptor Emil Wikström and his wife Alice Wikström to the Helsinki Conservatory.
Congratulatory telegram sent by sculptor Emil Wikström and his wife Alice Wikström to the Helsinki Conservatory. University of the Arts Helsinki / Sibelius Academy archive.

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