Walking the paths and paved streets in Finland. Or elsewhere. And loving it.
Sunday, 6 November 2011
Jyväskylä: Lounaispuisto park
My stroll takes me southwest from Jyväskylä city centre, towards the university campus. Just before reaching the beautiful villas at Älylä, I find myself entering Lounaispuisto park through a small open gate on Vapaudenkatu street. The park is deserted, not even children about. The big open-air stage (1954) is empty and quiet, unlike on some summer days, when music or dance may fill the place, and the only striking thing about it are the bright blue tones on the back wall of the stage.
The original wooden stage, built especially for Jyväskylä singing festival in 1887, looked somewhat different, as well as its successor (1899) which was designed by architect and teacher Yrjö Blomstedt who favoured jugend or national romantic style.
Above the rows of wooden benches, the lawns stretch up until Seminaarinkatu street and the campus of University of Jyväskylä. The old red-brick Rectorate enjoys a beautiful view to the park, just like its neighbour University Library across the street.
Half-way through the park, the bright blue shelter (1994) wasn't designed by Alvar Aalto despite its curvy shape.
Lounaispuisto has a rich musical heritage as a venue for concerts and festivals. The granite statues of the park pay tribute to three men who were important both locally and nationally in the field of music. On the lawn (yes, it is ok to walk on it!) you can salute P.J. Hannikainen (1854-1924) who was not just a teacher of music at the Seminary, the first Finnish teacher college, but also a composer and a very active choir leader.
In the center of the park, say hello to Martti Korpilahti who was a teacher as well as a poet, choir leader and composer. His most loved poem is probably the nature-inspired lyrics that became the anthem of Central Finland (Keski-Suomi).
If you take a side step to the playground at the side of the park, have a literary spin with pojanpääkaruselli - the Boy's Head Carousel. The carousel has a role in an acclaimed Finnish novel situated in Jyväskylä: Harjukaupungin salakäytävät in which secret passages beneath the town add another dimension to the lives of the lead characters. Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, a local teacher and novelist, describes his style as magical realism. Unfortunately this novel has not yet been translated to English...
I step on the gravel path and walk to the third music man, Erik August Hagfors (1827-1913) who was a pioneer in teaching music at the Seminary, the predecessor of University of Jyväskylä. Swedish was still the number one administrative language in Finland in the 19th century. Founding the Seminary at Jyväskylä was an important step in recognizing the value of Finnish language, and Hagfors founded choirs that sang proudly in Finnish - that was something new. Well done by a man whose mother tongue was Swedish!
Only few more slated steps remain before I'm on Seminaarinkatu street. There is no music at this corner, but a kiosk that provides snacks all year round, no matter the weather. Fancy a fresh pancake outdoors?