Sibelius was extremely precise with his own compositions and eager to hear their latest renditions. However, he avoided performing in public and stayed home regardless of requests. In the 1930s, after Sibelius had stopped composing almost entirely, he began spending more time in the Ainola library, seated in his armchair, smoking a cigar and listening to his beloved Telefunken 7001 WK radio.
Aino Sibelius described her husband’s pastime in a letter:
'At this very moment, his first symphony is being performed in Switzerland. Audibility is not too good, but the familiarity of the composition allows him to block out disruptive noises and focus on the music. Right now it is playing beautifully. You can imagine the enjoyment. Being able to sit here at home in the middle of the woods listening to his favourite music.'
The radio and the gramophone were Ainola’s centre. Every time there was a radio concert or Sibelius listened to his records, Ainola’s silence transformed into a pummelling force of music – the tones emptied the room of all elements that could disrupt the listening. Once Sibelius was so immersed in his maximum-volume enjoyment that he missed his guests subtly retreating to the yard, holding their ears. One bold guest, conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, finally had the courage to awaken Sibelius from his cloud of smoke and sound and get him to return to earth from his personal space of music. ‘I want to hear every semiquaver of the composition,’ was Sibelius’s explanation for his gramophone’s maximum volume. He would usually resume his listening session after saying this.