Juozas Gruodis (1884-1948) was the most significant figure in the interwar Lithuania. He was the first Lithuanian composer to regularly write symphonic music, in which he continued the rich tradition of the late programmatic romanticism. Even though he served as a local church organist until he was thirty, he later studied at the conservatories in Moscow and Leipzig, and when he came back to Kaunas, he acted as a conductor at the National Opera and in 1933 established the Kaunas Conservatoire - the first university-level music school in Lithuania, became its director and the first professor of composition. Gruodis was greatly interested in the old Lithuanian folk music - the monodies and the polyphonic sutartinės, often made their arrangements, and eventually developed his own individual style merging moderate modernism and elements of Lithuanian folk music, in its aesthetic principles similar to that of Béla Bartók and Leoš Janáček. Gruodis' attitudes were a strong influence for many Lithuanian composers for a long time.