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Julius Gaidelis


Composer Julius Gaidelis (1909-1983) is among the foremost Lithuanian musicians in emigration. He started his career in Lithuania several years before the outbreak of the WWII, and spent his mature and productive years in emigration, in the USA. Some of Julius Gaidelis' works were awarded prizes in the USA and performed by American-Lithuanian collectives and soloists in collaboration with foreign performers.

Julius Gaidelis is an exponent of Lithuanian expressionism in music. Like Vytautas Bacevičius and Jeronimas Kačinskas he adopted models of modern European music. Although in his early years Julius Gaidelis followed Lithuanian classical music tradition, his later works exhibit modern stylistic trends prevailing in Western Europe at the time. His Symphony No. 4 (1955) is regarded as the pinnacle of his orchestral music, representing the composer's main stylistic predisposition and its expressionistic essence.

Julius Gaidelis was born in Grigiškė village (Švenčionys district) on April 5, 1909. Becoming an orphan as a child, the future composer grew up with relatives, and in 1921 was accepted to the Child Jesus Society Orphan Home and artisan school in Kaunas. In 1925 Julius Gaidelis entered Juozas Naujalis Music School (later Conservatoire), where he studied piano with Lidija Dauguvietytė-Malko, and from 1931 - composition with Juozas Gruodis. In 1937 for his graduation exam he submitted Symphony No. 1. 1937-1940 taught at the "Žiburio" gymnasium in Prienai, later in Kaunas, and in 1941 settled in Šiauliai, where he taught at the music school, led choirs in Jesuit Church and Art Centre. Near the end of the WWII Julius Gaidelis' family emigrated to Germany, and in 1950 settled in Boston, USA. Here he led Lithuanian male and mixed choirs. In 1952 he entered New England Conservatoire and studied composition with Carl McKinley. In 1954 he earned Master Degree, presenting Symphony No. 3 as a graduation work. The following years are regarded as his most productive and mature period, featuring production of operas and symphonies among other compositions. Julius Gaidelis died in Brockton on January 6, 1983; buried in Kazimieras Cemetery in Chicago.

Julius Gaidelis output includes works of various genres. Even though he has composed a ballet, four operas, two oratorios, four cantatas and a number of chamber works, symphonic works constitute the most significant part of his output. He wrote 6 symphonies, concerto for violin and orchestra among other symphonic works. His early compositions exhibit influence of his teacher Juozas Gruodis, while his later opuses display features of his idiomatic music language: atonality and polytonality, expressive melody often employing elements of Lithuanian melos, contrastive polyphony, and work's general dramaturgy pervaded with main intonations. Aside from instrumental works, Julius Gaidelis wrote romances, solo and choral songs. His vocal music is dominated by elements of Lithuanian romanticism.


© Renata Varanavičiūtė

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