In the autumn of 1885, Sibelius moved to Helsinki, to study law at the University. At the same time, he enrolled in the Helsinki Music Institute, the present Sibelius Academy. Sibelius abandoned his legal studies, when music took up all his time - initially by the violin and then increasingly by composition. The oeuvre from this time at the music institute, culminated in Sibelius's first masterpiece, the String Quartet in A minor, performed for the first time on the 29th of May, 1889. During 1889-90 he continued his studies in Berlin, and 1890-91 in Vienna, where he made the first sketches of Kullervo.
Before composing became his main aspiration, Sibelius dreamt of career as a violin virtuoso. His violin tutor at the music institute was Mitrofan Wasileff(center), surrounded here by his pupils, Sibelius on the far left.
At the music institute, Sibelius became well acquainted with one of the teachers, the pianist and composer Ferruccio Busoni. The friendship lasted until Busoni's death in 1924.
Sibelius in Berlin in 1889, where under the guidance of his teacher Albert Becker, he laboured with contrapuntal studies. "What a bore, not being allowed to do anything else". In the spring of 1892 Sibelius conducted his extensive five-movement Kullervo for soloists, choir, and orchestra in Helsinki. With it began his career as an orchestral composer. It was also the occasion for his debut as a conductor. The following year he finished the orchestral work En Saga, and in 1895 the Lemminkäinen suite. Sibelius led a frenzied life: he composed, taught, conducted, played chamber music - and made merry !