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Music that Changed Time: The Baltic Outburst of Creativity after 1970 [Classical / Contemporary]

43rd International Baltic Musicological Conference and Festival, dedicated to the 80th anniversary of Lithuanian composer Bronius Kutavičius


12–14 September 2012, Vilnius


The Lithuanian Composer’s Union is delighted to announce the 43rd International Baltic Musicological Conference and Festival Music That Changed Time that is being dedicated this year to the 80th anniversary of Bronius Kutavičius, one of the most seminal Lithuanian composers. The conference will feature a host of presenters including Vytautas Landsbergis, Ramūnas Motiekaitis (Lithuania), Krzysztof Droba (Poland), Urve Lippus (Estonia), Martin Anderson (UK), Vitězslaw Mikeš (Czech Republic), Valdis Muktupavels (Latvia), as well as musicologists from the Baltic countries, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. The festival programme held throughout the conference will highlight the key and new works by the great Lithuanian master of historical reconstructions (for the programme click here).


In the music of the Baltic countries, the period between the end of World War II and the fall of the ‘Iron Curtain’ is inseparable from totalitarian regime and attempts to circumvent its constraints. Compositions of the first post-war decades were infused with the Soviet and pseudo-folkloric aesthetic. It is only in the 1960s that the music of the Baltic countries experienced a sudden leap of modernisation, when the political climate had ‘thawed,’ contacts had been made with the musical communities existing in other Eastern bloc countries, and the whole cultural paradigm had changed. The young composers of the time became besotted with ideas of the avant-garde. Yet it is not until the beginning of the 1970s that the more profound renewal commenced in the music of Lithuania and other countries of the Baltic region, with the increasing importance of the ideas of cultural resistance, national identity and creative freedom.


The 1970s and 1980s were marked with the search for national identity, distinct for each Baltic country. On the one hand, the composers of that generation sought ways to form their own musical language and individual expression; but on the other, there was a growing necessity to develop ideas and values that would consolidate artistic communities in different countries. The official Soviet authorities then proclaimed the doctrine of ‘developed socialism;’ meanwhile, individual voices emerged in the arts who heralded national awakening and thereby gradually undermined the foundations of the system, arousing the sense of longing for sincerity, partnership, national traditions, spirituality, religious and personal freedom. These values were encapsulated in the powerful, sensuous and uncompromising musical works by Estonians Veljo Tormis and Arvo Pärt; Latvians Pēteris Vasks and Pēteris Plakidis; Lithuanians Feliksas Bajoras, Osvaldas Balakauskas and Vytautas Barkauskas.


Photo: Arūnas Baltėnas

In Lithuania, works by Bronius Kutavičius (b. 1932) provoked something of a cultural shock in the public of the time. After trying out various avant-garde techniques, in the beginning of the 1970s, Kutavičius turned towards more ascetic, repetitive style (later defined as Baltic minimalism) and themes related to historical, religious and cultural identity. The first performances of his Pantheistic oratorio (1970), Dzukian Variations (1974), The Small Spectacle (1975), Last Pagan Rites, Two Birds in the Shadows of the Woods (both written in 1978), Anno cum tettigonia (1980) became exceptional events in Lithuanian music of the time.


Similar to an anthropologist, Kutavičius endeavoured to reconstruct the rituals, values, identities and feelings supposedly characteristic of archaic cultures, as well as to reform the very notion of a musical work, as a structured configuration of sounds, by giving a new lease of life to narrativity that has been so adamantly denounced by the avant-garde. Deeply affecting and communicative, the music of Kutavičius did overcome the barrier of mistrust and intolerance, surrounding contemporary music on the side of the public. It not only mustered members of the musical community, attracted poets, writers, artists, theatre people, diverse intellectuals, but also inspired new reflections which lead to the exploration of more suggestive and sensitive forms of rhetoric, on the one hand, and to the analysis of the cultural context of music, on the other.


The conference and the festival are organised by the Lithuanian Composers’ Union and the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, in association with the Latvian Composers’ Union, the Estonian Musicological Society, the Lithuanian Ensemble Network and St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra. It has been supported by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture and the Research Council of Lithuania. The languages of the conference are English and German.


For more information please contact Jūratė Katinaitė, Chair of the Musicological Section of the Lithuanian Composers’ Union by e-mail or telephone +370 687 74158.


For more info about Bronius Kutavičius click here.


Musicological Section of the Lithuanian Composers' Union info

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