Records available

CD canto:). Hortus Musicus

DVD In the Mystical Land of Kaydara. Peeter Vähi

DVD Coppélia. A ballet by Léo Delibes

CD-series Great Maestros. Beethoven, Brahms. Kalle Randalu, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi

CD Quarter of a Century with Friends. Arsis, Rémi Boucher, Oliver Kuusik, Rauno Elp

Super Audio CD Maria Magdalena. Sevara Nazarkhan, Riga Dom Cathedral Boys Choir, State Choir Latvija, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra

CD Jerusalem. Hortus Musicus

LP Contra aut pro? Toomas Velmet, Neeme Järvi, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Arvo Pärt

CD The Soul of Fire. Age Juurikas



Tõnu Kõrvits − music characterised by fine-hued orchestral textures, romantic representation, vivacity, beauty, and passion. Has been performed on festivals in Copenhagen, Katowice, Usedom, Lockenhaus, Montreal, Moscow. Has been awarded Eller Music Prize 2001, Young Artist Prize 2002 by the President’s Cultural Foundation, the State Culture Award (2011 / 2012, Estonia).



Tõnu Kõrvits is a rising star of Estonian contemporary music, more and more frequently performed in Estonia and foreign countries. Beside Veljo Tormis’ shamanistic spells, Erkki-Sven Tüür’s energetic explosions and Arvo Pärt’s religious contemplations, Kõrvits’ sound world stands out as highly poetic, full of visionary fantasies. His music carries the listener along on hypnotic journeys through the landscapes of nature and folk tradition, human soul and subconscious. Calm but suggestive melodies in his works are integrated into rich and refined spectrum of harmony and timbre colours. Figurative titles often reflect romantic allegories or mythological imagery: The Detached Bridge; For You, the Messenger of Night; To My Spiritual Brother; The Sign of Love; River of Gratitude; Eldorado; The Blue Gate, etc. In last decade, Estonian folk song and sometimes also other archaic and exotic song traditions have become important as a substance and source of inspiration for the composer.
Tõnu Kõrvits graduated from the Estonian Academy of Music’s composition department with Raimo Kangro in 1994 and continued the master’s studies with Prof Jaan Rääts. During the studies he also participated in master courses for young arrangers with the Metropole Orchestra and conductor Vince Mendoza (the Netherlands, 1997) and in the master class of composer Stephen Montague (Poland, 1998). Since 2001, he is a lecturer of composition and instrumentation at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
Kõrvits’ plentiful oeuvre includes all traditional genres from orchestral music, instrumental ensembles and works for solo instruments to choral music, solo songs and operas. He started composing in 1990s with works in neo-romantic style including To a Man, In Whose Eyes the Brightness of Polaris Sparkled (1993) for chamber orchestra, Long-Lasting Farewell (1993) for guitar and piano, Rainbird’s Home (1996) for instrumental ensemble, To My Spiritual Brother (1996) for alto flute and guitar, and others. One of the most popular works of this period is the Concerto semplice (1992) for guitar and chamber orchestra. Over time, Kõrvits’ music moved toward more complex textures. Instrumental in this transformation was The Detached Bridge for saxophone quartet and chamber orchestra (1998), inspired by the lyrics of Anna Akhmatova.
In the first half of the 2000nds, orchestral works with elaborated and fluid sound canvas were composed, such as The Sign of Love (2002) and Eldorado (2002, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s poem). Next orchestral work, The Songs of Survivors (2004) for symphony orchestra interweaved Oriental melodic inflections with Estonian folk melodies. Synthesis of archaic and exotic melodies with subtle colouring and harmonic texture is also characteristic to Kõrvits’ following works − In These Gardens (2004) for alto saxophone and string orchestra, inspired by lyrics of Astride Ivask and bird songs and comprising an Estonian folk tune, the oriental-coloured Safra (2005) for piano and string orchestra, and Tsirgutii (Milky Way, 2005) for flute and string orchestra.
In 2000nds, Kõrvits has also composed a series of works reflecting the imagery of the mythical northern land Thule, an archaic prototype of Estonia − such as The Songs from Thule (2002) for flute and piano, and The Songs from Thule II (2004) for trumpet and piano, Pictures of Thule (2006) for piano, Elegies of Thule (2007) for string orchestra, string quartet Thule Patterns (2007), Chorales of Thule (2008) for soprano saxophone and organ, Sketches of Thule (2008) for saxophone quartet and organ, and Helios Helios (2008) for 2 cellos and symphony orchestra. Most of these works are characterized by significant role of Estonian folk song and mythological subtexts.
Kõrvits’ poetic idiom has achieved extreme power of expression in his chamber operas My Swans, My Thoughts (2005, libretto by Maarja Kangro) and Firegarden (2006, libretto by Maarja Kangro). His excellent melodic gift is evident in his numerous and popular works for solo instruments. Last years the composer has been moreover focused on vocal and choral music being still inspired by Estonian and Northern traditional culture. He has composed some remarkable works including Kreek’s Notebook (2007) for mixed choir and string orchestra, based on Estonian sacred folk tunes (collected by noted Estonian choral composer Cyrillus Kreek) and Hymns from the Western Coast (2009) for mixed choir and saxophone quartet, based on Estonian-Swedish folk chorales.
In addition to writing contemporary compositions in the classical idiom, Tõnu Kõrvits is known as an accomplished arranger and orchestrator of popular music. He was a nominee for the Estonian Music Award ’98 in the Best Arranger category. He also has composed soundtracks for documentaries, puppet and animation films; the most popular of the last is Priit Tender’s film Viola, which has won several international prizes. Mati Laas’ puppet film Kings of the Time was named the best Estonian film of 2008.
Besides Estonian festivals (Glasperlenspiel Festival, NYYD Festival, Estonian Music Days, etc), music of Tõnu Kõrvits has been performed at several festivals including ArtGenda (Copenhagen, 1996), Usedomer Musikfestival (Germany, 1999), Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival (Austria, 1999), World Saxophone Congress (Montreal, 2000), Europamusicale (Germany, 2004), Musica nos unit (Poland, 2004), Mänttä Music Festival (Finland, 2005), International Guitar Festival Münster (Germany, 2006), World Music Days (Hong Kong / Macau, 2007), Cellissimo (Adelaide, 2008), Lux Musicae (Finland, 2009), Les Boreales (France, 2009), World New Music Days (Croatia, 2011), and International Music Festival The Seasons (Moscow, 2011).
In 1994, Tõnu Kõrvits’ Concerto Semplice for guitar and chamber orchestra was chosen to represent Estonia at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris. The Sign of Love for symphony orchestra participated at Rostrum in Vienna, 2003. The Days of Glory for two orchestras and percussion represented Estonia in the Millennium Project of the European Broadcasting Union. In 2010, Baltic Elegies for choir and bassoon was premiered by the Bellingham Chamber Chorale and bassoon soloist Martin Kuuskmann in the USA. In 2011, Sung into the Wind received a splendid performance at the studio concert of the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi. In the same year, Hymns to the Nordic Lights was premiered by Britten Sinfonia under the conduction of James MacMillan.
Kõrvits’ works belong to the repertoire of the most important Estonian orchestras and artists including Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta, Nyyd Ensemble, saxophone quartet SaxEst, conductors Neeme Järvi, Olari Elts, Anu Tali, Tõnu Kaljuste, Risto Joost, Arvo Volmer, Paul Mägi, and Vello Pähn, pianists Mihkel Poll, Age Juurikas and Marko Martin, organist Ulla Krigul, saxophonist Virgo Veldi, bassoonist Martin Kuuskmann, etc. In 2003 / 2004 concert season, Kõrvits was a Composer-in-Residence at the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra.
Kõrvits’ music has also been performed by numerous foreign artists, such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Macao Symphony Orchestra, Nordic Symphony Orchestra, Krasnoyarsk Symphony Orchestra, Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Tyrolean Symphony Orchestra Innsbruck, The Seasons Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Ohio Northern University Symphony Orchestra, Ferenz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of Malmö Music Academy, St Christopher Chamber Orchestra Vilnius, St Michel Strings (Finland), mixed choir Cantemus (Hungary), Swedish Radio Choir, Bellingham Chamber Chorale (USA), EU Saxophone Orchestra, etc.
As a talented and prolific creator, Tõnu Kõrvits has gained recognition from the Estonian state and cultural institutions a number of times. He was awarded the Heino Eller Music Prize in 2001, the Young Artist Prize by the Board of the President’s Cultural Foundation in 2002 and the Annual Prize of the Endowment for Music of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia in 2004 and 2014. Kõrvits’ symphonic work Eldorado won the Third Prize at the International Lepo Sumera Composition Contest for Young Composers in Tallinn in 2003. In 2006 he received Cultural Endowment’s Live and Shine grant, in 2007 was awarded the Annual Music Prize of the Estonian Music Council for his contribution to Estonian orchestral music, in 2011, the Cultural Prize of the Republic of Estonia and in 2014, Prize of the Estonian Music Days Festival 2013. Tõnu Kõrvits was recognised by Estonian Choral Association as the Choral Composer of the Year 2014.

Compiled by Estonian Music Information Centre, 2014

the biography in Estonian (PDF)


Selected works:
Awake, My Heart! for handbell ensemble (2003, published by ERP)
player Sleep, Sleep Little Mats, fragm, 1 min 19 sec, mp3
Short pieces for two guitars (1991)
Song for a Distant Friend
A Long-Lasting Farewell for guitar and piano (1993)
Symphony (1994)
player Prelude for guitar, fragm, 1 min 13 sec, mp3
3 Psalms for voice and piano (1996)
To My Spiritual Brother for alto flute and guitar (1996)
Moon and Sea for voice and guitar (1998)
Halo for three electric guitars (1999)
Afterglow for string quintet and harpsichord (2000)
The Spring (La Source) for alto-saxophone and vibraphone (2000)
Longer Than Thousand Summers for solo flute and chamber orchestra (2000)
The Myth for symphony orchestra (2001)
Beyond Solar Fields, concerto for bassoon and symphony orchestra
Teardrop-Fantasy for symphony orchestra (2011)
See also https://soundcloud.com/tonukorvits

Press resonance:

Lisaks Mozartile mitmekesistasid kontserdi kava Tõnu Kõrvitsa uudisteos “Pisarate-fantaasia” sümfooniaorkestrile ja Peeter Vähi noorpõlveteos “Concerto piccolo” klavessiinile ja kammerorkestrile (1975). Kõrvitsa umbes kümneminutine ABA-vormis pala, festivali ainus esiettekanne, rullus kuulaja ees lahti nii vormiliselt kui orkestratsioonilt hästi tasakaalustatuna. Autori sõnul olevat teos inspireeritud John Dowlandi muusika pisarate kujundi lembusest ning kõlaski pigem heakõlaliselt ja  samas nukralt. Puhkpilliosad meenutasid veidi Stravinski neoklassitsistliku perioodi teoseid. (Mart Jaanson, Sirp, 05.08.11, Estonia, whole article)

Nii leiame plaadilt /.../ õnneks ka Tõnu Kõrvitsa seaded eesti rahvalauludest... Tõnu Kõrvitsa detailiküllases helimaailmas on salapära, imepärasust ja haprust. (Ene Pilliroog, Muusika, 2 / 2014, Estonia, whole article)

See Tõnu Kõrvits’ recordings by ERP: Awake, My Heart!, Bassoon Concertos, Nonstop, The Best of Arsis Bells



Eino Tamberg – a unique personality in Estonian music, a constant surprise-maker. In the centre of attention of the musical audience since creating his Concerto grosso that became a new-wave break-through work of Estonian music into the international music life. Mainly the composer of opera Iron Home, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Flight) and orchestra (symphonies, Musica triste, concertos for saxophone, cello, trumpet, bassoon, violin).


Eino Tamberg (May 27th, 1930 / Tallinn, Estonia – Dec 24th, 2010 / Tallinn, Estonia) completed his studies in composition under Prof Eugen Kapp at the Tallinn Conservatory in 1953. From 1953 to 1959 he worked in the Estonian Radio as sound engineer and as artistic consultant in the Estonian Composers’ Union from 1960 to 1969. Since 1968 he teaches composition at the Estonian Academy of Music and from 1978 until now he is the head of the chair of composition. Tamberg has founded a school of composition. His most brilliant students have been Raimo Kangro, Peeter Vähi, Margo Kõlar, Toivo Tulev, Mari Vihmand, Mart Siimer. In 1999 he was awarded the Estonian State Cultural Award.

Tamberg is a great authority in Estonian contemporary music. He has influenced it since the 1950’s being a representative of the new generation of composers then. His Concerto grosso (1956) became the international break-through both for the author himself as well as for the Estonian new music.

The most important part of Tamberg’s output are symphonic works and works for the stage. He is an excellent musical dramatist. His works always fascinate with a clear concept of form and vivid imagination which sometimes leads him to surprising mixtures of styles like in the case of the opera Cyrano de Bergerac. He generally makes use of extended tonality or free atonality combining them in his own original way. High intensity of expression (achieved by melodic and harmonic means as well as by orchestration) typical for his music was strongly revealed in the ballet Joanna tentata. His tendency to combine various artistic forms in the works for the stage emerged in The Moonshine Oratorio.

Most important works

“Raudne kodu” / The Iron Home (1965)
“Lend” / The Flight (1983)
Cyrano de Bergerac (1974, published by Bella Musica and ERP)
player Cyrano de Bergerac, Epilogue, fragm, 4 min 38 sec, mp3, 256 Kbps

Ballett-sümfoonia / Ballet-Symphony (1959)
Joanna tentata (1971)
“Poiss ja liblikas” / The Boy and the Butterfly (1963)

Symphonic works:
4 symphonies (1972, 1982, 1987, 1998)
Trumpet Concerto No 1 (1972)
Violin Concerto (1981)
Saxophone Concerto (1987)
Clarinet Concerto (1996)
“Tundeline teekond klarnetiga” / Sensitive Journey for clarinet and chamber orchestra (1996)
Bassoon Concerto

Vocal music:
Viis romanssi Sandor Petöfi sõnadele / Five Romances to poems by Sandor Petöfi (1955)

Vocal works with orchestra:
“Kuupaisteoratoorium” / The Moonshine Oratorio (1962)
Amores, oratorio (1981)

Chamber music:
Partita for piano (1971)
Musica triste for flute, vibraphone and strings (1991)
Music for Five for 2 flutes, French horn, trombone and tuba (1992)

Dedicated to Eino Tamberg: oratorio Mary Magdalene Gospel by Peeter Vähi


Imagetext Imagetext Imagetext




René Eespere – rather a graphic artist than a painter in music. Exact details and clear figures of melody allow us to compare him with masters of etching.



René Eespere was born on Dec 14th, 1953 in Tallinn. He graduated 1977 from Estonian Academy of Music as a composition student of Anatoli Garšnek, and 1977−1979 advanced his studies as a postgraduate student in Moscow Conservatory under Aram Khachaturian and Aleksey Nikolayev.
Since 1979 René Eespere is a teacher of composition and music theory at the Estonian Academy of Music, since 2002 a professor. Since 1978 he is a member of the Estonian Composers’ Union.

ImagetextRené Eespere became publicly known first by his allegorical short ballets A Man and a Night, The Furies, and Ancient Dwellers that were all staged in the 1970s at the Vanemuine Theatre (Tartu). Of his extensive creation, oratorial works as well as sincere music for children and chamber music of subtle texture have gained the widest acclaim. Since the end of the 1970s tonal mode treatment, ostinato technique and elaborate use of variation have pervaded his idiom, suggesting influences of ancient ritual music, minimalism and Baroque. The dramatic art of his extensive works is characterized by a power of suggestion typical of a ritual.
During the 1980s René Eespere wrote a number of oratorial with an ethical and existential message (Passiones, Mysterium, Mediterium). Simultaneously with that he brought fresh air to the scene of Estonian children’s music with instrumentally accompanied songs and song cycles that were characterized by bright emotions and clear idiom. Two Jubilations, written in 1986, still remains a starting piece for a sequence of choral works with Latin titles (Glorificatio, Invocatio, Sub specie quietatis, De amore aeterno, Festina lente, Ritus, Origo originum, ao), followed by cantatas Mater rosae, Glorificatio and oratorio Passiones.
The list of commissioners and first performers of Eespere’s works includes the Jutland Chamber Choir from Denmark, LRC Chamber Singers from Riga as well as larger organizations such as the Busenbach Male Choirs Association from Germany. Eespere’s patriotic songs have been performed by the choirs of Estonia, Canada, the USA, and Australia. Some of them, like Time of Waking and Estonia I Love You have been repeatedly included in the program of the All-Estonian Song Festivals. Eespere’s Latin songs De amore aeterno, Festina lente and Ritus have resounded in churches and cathedrals of Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, Norway, Croatia and Spain. The major introducers of Eespere’s choral music have been the Jutland Chamber Choir and the Sonnelund Chamber Choir from Denmark, the male choir Orphei Dränger Uppsala, the mixed choirs of Atlanta Choraliens and of Portland University, and Tōkyō Philharmonic Chorus.
During the last 16 years instrumental concertos and chamber pieces have also been born by commissions by performers and chamber ensembles like Jean-Claude Gérard, Eleftheria Kotzia, Maarika Järvi, NYYD Ensemble, Arsis Handbell Ensemble, Klaus Jäckle, Hermann Hudde, Neeme Punder, and Heiki Mätlik, to name a few.
Eespere’s works have won awards at several music contests, eg the 2nd prize at the 6th International Contest of Choral Music in Trentinos (Italy, 1991, Glorificatio), Diplom Opera segnalata at the 21st International Contest of Choral Music in Arezzo (Italy, 1994, Invocatio), the 1st prize at the Contest of New Songs for the Estonian National Male Choir RAM (1996, Sub specie quietatis), the 3rd prize at the Contest of New Instrumental Concertos for an Award from the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (1997, Concerto for Viola and Orchestra), 2nd prize at the Estonian Male Choirs’ Association Contest of New Songs for Male Choirs (2000, Day Of The Seven Sleepers).
Orders and decorations: the Annual Estonian Music Award (1989), the 4th class order of the White Star (2001), the Live and Shine award by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia (2001−2002)

Download: René Eespere, photo by Gert Kelu / Eesti Foto, colour, jpg, RGB, 300 dpi, 1860 KB
Download: René Eespere, photo by Gert Kelu / Eesti Foto, monochrome, jpg, 300 dpi, 1860 KB
Download: René Eespere, photo by Estonian TV, colour, jpg, 300 dpi, 1450 KB

The majority of Eespere’s works have been published (Eres, Antes, Edition 49, Edition Eisenberg, ERP).



There have been 6 CDs of Eespere released in Germany, eg Concentus (Antes Classics, 1995), Neue Chormusik aus Estland (Christophorus, 2000) and Der Morgen der Sculptur (Antes Classics, 2001), Concertatus celatus (Antes Classics 2007). His music has also been included on a number of compilation records.

Respectus107 Double-CD Respectus
Tiit Peterson, Neeme Punder, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Paul Mägi, Heiki Mätlik, Esteban Colucci, Donato D’Antonio, Eleftheria Kotzia, Harry Traksmann...
ERP 7313
Imagetext Der Morgen der Skulptur / Skulptuuri hommik
Heiki Mätlik, Tiit Peterson, Jüri Leiten, Andres Uibo, Neeme Punder
Antes Classics BM-CD 31.9161
Imagetext De spe
François Soulet, Jelena Voznesenskaya, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Risto Joost...
ERP 1909
Imagetext Februa
Kaia Urb, Sauli Tiilikainen, Tiit Peterson, Neeme Punder, Olev Ainomäe, Meelis Vind...
2009 / 2010
ERP 3209
Imagetext Somnium boreale
Maarika Järvi, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Kristjan Järvi
ERP 2009

Eesti portreed / Estonian Portraits
Duo Concertante
Antes Editiojn Classics BM-CD 31.9160


In dies
Toomas Vavilov, Handbell Ensemble Arsis
ERP 100

TheBestOfArsisBells107 The Best of Arsis Bells
Toomas Vavilov, Handbell Ensemble Arsis
ERP 7013-1

player Clarinet Concerto, fragm, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra / Risto Joost, 104 sec, mp3
player Invocatio, fragm, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, 3 min 22 sec, mp3

Press resonance

Artistic quality 10, sound quality 10. ... an Estonian composer who writes like no one you’ve ever heard. Staunchly Romantic, Eespere belongs in the tradition of Arvo Pärt and Heino Eller without sounding derivitave of their style. He employs familiar tricks of the Romanticist’s trade but updates them (or goes retro) when it suits the music. (Paul Cook, Classics Today, whole article)

Nii leiame plaadilt /.../ õnneks ka René Eespere /.../ originaalloomingut. René Eespere teos “In dies” (solist Toomas Vavilov klarnetil) vaatleb justkui läbi luubi meie peidetumaid südamesaladusi, mis on piirideta ja tuhandetähenduslikud. (Ene Pilliroog, Muusika, 2 / 2014, Estonia, whole article)

Eespere muusika puudutab, vahel hellalt ja rõõmsalt, teinekord valusalt. Igal juhul kujundab see tasakaalu elamise ja olemise vahel, mida tema puhul tähistab lõputuna näiv kusagilt tulemise ja kuhugi minemise rada. Eespere muusikas puuduvad lõplikud tõed, üldse millegi lõplikkus või lõpetatus. /.../ “Respectus” on üks selliseid plaate, mis toob kuulaja mõtte- ja tundemaailma rahu ja korra ning loob (suure) maailmaga üksolemise tunde. Respekt! (Ene Pilliroog, Muusika, 3 / 2014, Estonia, whole article)

Works of René Eespere published by ERP:
Cum intervallis
for harpsichord. Dedicated to Imbi Tarum. ERP 2709. Download the 1st page of the score.
Triangulum for violin, cello and piano. Score & parts. ERP 2809.  Download the 1st page of the score.