Curios and Obscurities

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Skapad den: 30 sep 2008
An old-fashioned cabinet of curiosities, featuring oddities, rarities and all things bizarre from the world of music.

Limited to interesting artists with less than 1000 listeners.

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The Estonian New Wave
Contemporary Classical Composers

Veljo Tormis

Veljo Tormis (born August 7, 1930) is an Estonian composer, regarded to be one of the greatest living choral composers and one of the most important composers of the 20th century in Estonia. Internationally, his fame arises chiefly from his extensive body of choral music, which exceeds 500 individual choral songs, most of it a cappella. The great majority of these pieces are based on traditional ancient Estonian folksongs (regilaulud), either textually, melodically, or merely stylistically.

His composition most often performed outside of Estonia, Curse Upon Iron (Raua needmine) (1972), invokes ancient Shamanistic traditions to construct an allegory about the evils of war. This piece was banned by the Soviet government, along with many other controversial works by Tormis.

More recently, Tormis's works have been lionized in worldwide performances and several recordings by Tõnu Kaljuste and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. In the 1990s, Tormis also began to receive commissions from some of the pre-eminent a cappella choruses in the West such as the King's Singers, the Holst Singers and the Hilliard Ensemble.

Tormis has famously said of his settings of traditional melodies and verse: "It is not I who make use of folk music, it is folk music that makes use of me." His work demonstrates his conviction that traditional Estonian and other Balto-Finnic music represents a treasure which must be guarded and nourished, and that culture may be kept alive through the medium of song.

Erkki-Sven Tüür

Erkki-Sven Tüür (born 16 October 1959) is an Estonian composer. Tüür (pronounced /ty:r/) was born in Kärdla on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa. He studied flute and percussion at the Tallinn Music School from 1976 to 1980 and composition with Jaan Rääts at the Tallinn Academy of Music and privately with Lepo Sumera from 1980 to 1984. From 1979 to 1984 he headed the rock group In Spe, which quickly became one of the most popular in Estonia.

Tüür left In Spe to concentrate on composition, and with the advent of perestroika soon found an audience in the west. The Helsinki Philharmonic, the Hilliard Ensemble, the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra are among those who have commissioned works from him. He was awarded the Cultural Prize of Estonia in 1991 and 1996.

Urmas Sisask

Urmas Sisask (born September 9, 1960) is an Estonian composer. One of the major inspirations for his music is astronomy. Based on the trajectories of the planets in the solar system, he created the planetal scale, a mode consisting of the notes C#, D, F#, G#, and A. Later, he discovered to his surprise that this was exactly the same as the Japanese Kumayoshi mode. He is a Roman Catholic, and a large part of what he writes is sacred music.

Lepo Sumera

Lepo Sumera (8 May 1950 - 2 June 2000) was an Estonian composer and teacher. Considered one of Estonia's most renowned composers along with Heino Eller and Arvo Pärt, he was also his country's Minister of Culture from 1988 to 1992 during the days of the Singing Revolution.

Sumera first came to notice in 1972 with In Memoriam, an orchestral tribute to Eller. He went on to compose five symphonies and numerous chamber and vocal works which have been played by orchestras throughout North America and Europe as well as in Australia and Cuba.

In the late 1980s, Sumera became increasingly interested in electro-acoustic music. He founded the Electronic Music Studio at the Estonian Academy of Music in 1995 and served as its Director until 1999. One of his best known works in this genre is the multi-media Heart Affairs (1999) which used human heart sounds that were electronically transformed during performance accompanied by echocardiograph images, some from his own heart.

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