During his lonely years as a young traveling performer and teacher in northern Germany, Ferruccio Busoni adopted a Newfoundland for companionship; he named the huge black dog Lesko. When he sailed to Helsinki to begin his first steady teaching position in 1888, of course Lesko came along.
Busoni’s lively personality and prodigious performing skills soon attracted a group of artists who gathered regularly at bars and restaurants. Since his dog always attended these meetings, they declared Lesko the honorary convener and dubbed themselves the Leskovites. This group included Jean Sibelius, the writer Adolf Paul, the conductor Armas Järnefelt, and his brother, the painter Eero Järnefelt.
In 1890 Busoni expressed his regard for the Leskovites with his Geharnischte suite, op. 34a; each movement is dedicated to one of “the four friends of Lesko in Helsinki.”
This according to “The friends of Lesko, the dog: Sibelius, Busoni, Armas and Eero Järnefelt, Adolf Paul” by Barbara Blanchard Hong, an essay included in Sibelius in the old and new world: Aspects of his music, its interpretation, and reception (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2010, pp. 57–68).
Below, Busoni’s suite dedicated to the Leskovites.
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