Johan (Jean) Julius Christian was born on December 8th, 1865 in Hämeenlinna, a small garrison town some hundred kilometres north of Helsinki. When the boy was only two, his father died, heavily indebted, and the family had no choice but to live with Sibelius's maternal grandmother. The five-year-old "Janne", as he was called as a child, sat by the piano, tickling out melodies and chords from it. At the age of ten, he played by heart parts from a concerto. From that time, c. 1875, comes his first composition: "Vesipisaroita" (Drops of Water) for violin and cello. In the spring of 1880, he started taking violin lessons, and thus the violin cast its spell on him.
Janne's sister Linda played the piano, and their little brother Christian the cello, together amounting to a piano trio. At first, they played pieces from the Viennese classical and romantic repertoires, but soon chamber music composed by Janne. This picture shows the sibling-trio in the 1870s. Janne came from a Swedish-speaking family, but he went to a Finnish-speaking school. This way, he became familiar with the heritage and culture of the Finnish language. At school he was often in a world of his own. He finished school, taking the matriculation examination, in the spring of 1885.
Sibelius's parents: Doctor Christian Gustaf Sibelius, and Maria Sibelius, née Borg.