Who was Maj Lind?
Maj Lind lived surrounded by different languages and cultures. She would undoubtedly have delighted in the medley of languages that the piano competition bearing her name will be bringing to the Helsinki Music Centre in August 2017.
Maj Lind (née Kopjeff) was born on March 1, 1876 – in other words, 141 years ago – in the town of Kuopio in the Autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland. The language spoken in the home was Russian.
Maria’s grandfather was Konstantin Kopjev (Kopjeff), Dean of Kuopio Orthodox Church. Her father, Ilja (1848–1921), was the adopted son of the Dean and his wife, and they had no other children. Ilja was the son of a baron and born in Reval (nowadays Tallinn). Maria’s mother was Anna Stepanovna Kakurjukij (1854–1918), niece of the Dean’s wife.
The Governor of the province of Kuopio when Maria was a child was Alexander Järnefelt. Cultural circles gathered in the home of the writer Minna Canth, and concerts were given in the town by artists such as Ida Basilier-Magelssen, Oskar Merikanto and Maikki Pakarinen. People went to photographer Victor Barsokevitsch to have a studio portrait taken, as did Maria and her brother Konstantin (Kostya).
The family had strong ties with Imperial Russia, to which the Grand Duchy belonged until 1917, and especially St. Petersburg. Maria’s mother, Anna, had been born there, and it was there that her father, Ilja, had trained as a telegrapher. This is also where they were married. Maria would sometimes accompany her mother to St. Petersburg, to visit relatives and for music lessons.
Kuopio had a Swedish-speaking girls’ school which Maria attended from the ages of 10 to 15. She also studied the piano.
In 1895, Maria was 19 years old and living in Helsinki. That autumn, she placed advertisements in two Swedish-language newspapers offering not only piano lessons but also school coaching in Finnish, Swedish and Russian. At the time, she was living at Abrahaminkatu 8, an approximately 20-minute walk from the present Helsinki Music Centre.
Two years later, Maria married Arvid Lind (1871–1932), a businessman, in Helsinki. Arvid sat on various local councils and his interests also included bicycle racing, motoring and hunting. Maria’s parents-in-law were Major Anders Knut and Ebba (née Sevén) Lind.
The Linds lived in what is nowadays the Oulunkylä suburb of Helsinki, where they had a large wooden house built in 1899. Named Villa Lindebo, it had two storeys and a tower. A train service ran between Oulunkylä and the centre of Helsinki, and the station was only a short distance away by horse and cart.
When Finland gained political independence in 1917, Maria was already 41 years old. The newspapers reported that she sang at the annual meeting of the Oulunkylä Voluntary Fire Brigade in 1920. After the Linds left their house, it served as a comprehensive school from the 1920s onwards and later as a home for members of the Finnish Artists’ Association, until it was pulled down. The present address is Mikkolantie 1.
Maj Lind was widowed after 35 years of marriage. She made her home at Ilmarinkatu 4, near the centre of Helsinki, and a plaque commemorating this was eventually placed on the wall.
Maj Lind went to concerts and travelled abroad. In 1938, she went to Italy with her friend Martta Linnala (sister of Eino Linnala the composer), and they are known to have visited Venice and Rome at least. Maj Lind was particularly fond of Paris.
Maria (Maj) Lind died on October 24, 1942, at the age of 66. Her funeral ceremony was held at the Orthodox Holy Trinity Church at Unioninkatu 31, and she was buried in Hietaniemi Cemetery, alongside her husband, who had died ten years earlier.
Arvid Lind left his wife a considerable fortune, which she then bequeathed in her will ten years later, a couple of months before she died. In addition to pianists at the Sibelius Academy she made bequests to the elderly and the poor.