BACKGROUND: The loneliness of the long-serving copyist
By Vesa Sirén
What little we have learned thus far about Paul Voigt, the rather secretive and long-serving copyist of Jean Sibelius's music, is mainly down to the sleuthing work of Sibelius scholar Markku Hartikainen.
Voigt was born in Schmiedeberg in Saxony in 1867, and trained as a violinist.
He found his way to Finland no later than 1893, in which year he became a musician with the Helsinki Philharmonic Society orchestra of Robert Kajanus, now the Helsinki Philharmonic.
He played with the orchestra until 1900 and again from 1910-1911.
In 1923 Voigt moved to an address in Töölönkatu, in Helsinki's district of Töölö. In that same year he made the fair copy of a couple of well-known orchestral works by Sibelius.
Their collaboration continued, with Voigt effectively becoming Sibelius's court copyist.
At the turn of the 1940s (between 1939 and 1942), Sibelius lived on a couple of occasions at an apartment he rented on Kammiokatu in Töölö. This street has since been renamed Sibeliuksenkatu.
When Sibelius was in residence in the capital (at times during the war years), he could practically see into his copyist's apartment.
The outgoing Anni Kemppainen was a cleaner, and she cleaned Paul Voigt's apartment.
Later in life, it seems the Kemppainens also put Voigt up in their own home, after he became too ill to live by himself.
The solitary man told them that he had no living relatives to inherit what little he left behind him, or to see to his burial after his death, and he bought the Kemppainens a burial plot in the Hietaniemi Cemetery in Helsinki on the understanding that they would see him buried properly when the time came.
Voigt died in Kivelä Hospital in 1943.
His small estate was passed to Anni Kemppainen on the basis of an oral testament, and included the mysterious "box of notes".
The Kemppainens placed a death notice in the newspaper, and the arrangement over a common burial plot was duly honoured: Sibelius's copyist Paul Voigt's mortal remains are resting in the Kemppainen family grave in Hietaniemi.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 14.11.2011
More on this subject:
Is this the sound of Sibelius's lost Eighth Symphony?
Jean Sibelius's own comments on his Eighth Symphony
Sibelius letters unearthed from document case
VESA SIRÉN / Helsingin Sanomat