Estonian Composers in St. Petersburg: Tobias, Kapp, Lemba, Eller

Nicholas L. Wallin (Lake Forest College)

The earliest compositions in the Estonian symphonic tradition can be traced to the composer Rudolf Tobias (1873-1918), as well as to his near contemporaries Artur Kapp (1878-1952), Artur Lemba (1885-1963), and Heino Eller (1887-1970). These four are credited with the first-ever Estonian symphonic work (Tobias, 1896), the first Estonian piano concerto (Tobias, 1897), the first Estonian cantata (Tobias, 1897), and first Estonian symphony (Lemba, 1908). Eller and Kapp were also among the founding teachers of composition at the Tallinn Conservatory (1919) and Tartu Higher School of Music (1919).

Although these four were among the most influential early Estonian symphonic composers, they were all educated in St. Petersburg. My presentation provides an examination of symphonic works by these pioneering Estonians, relating their works to those of their teachers and contemporaries from the St. Petersburg school, chief among whom was Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. The comparison will provide a framework for delineating a broad incipient style for the first generation of Estonian symphonic composers.

Comments are closed.