The Paris World Fair – the “Paris Tour”


The “Paris Tour”, i.e. the European tour of the Philharmonic Society Orchestra, with the Paris World Fair as its destination, was a wild project at the time. For a start, there was no money, and people objected that it was too ostentatious and difficult besides. Kajanus and his friends nevertheless felt it was important – Finland should be represented at the Paris World Fair in music as in other fields. There was opposition to granting public funds and the Senate refused to award a grant.

In the end, funds were raised after a personal appeal to the Finnish nation by Albert Edelfelt, Robert Kajanus and R.E. Westerlund. Donations to the tune of 30,000 marks were collected all round Finland. Despite all the opposition, Kajanus was determined to take the orchestra on tour.

The project was also backed by Axel Carpelan, a known supporter of Sibelius and Kajanus, who drew up detailed instructions for how the players were to behave. In the end, the tour ensemble consisted of 66 players, though only 25 of them were Finns. Their tour took in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Hamburg, Berlin, Amsterdam and Brussels before arriving in Paris. Naturally there was Finnish music on the programme, and the soloists were singers Aino Ackté, Maikki Järnefelt and Ida Ekman and violinist Heikki Halonen.

A couple of decades after the tour, Johan Järnefelt, a violinist in the orchestra, wrote a memoir in the nature of a travel diary.