LEPO SUMERA (1950-2000)
The late Lepo Sumera was one of the most brilliant personalities in Estonian music. I am convinced that his symphonic heritage will take its place on concert platforms all over the world. His music, always so multi-layered, dramatic and richly coloured, speaks to listeners in a very intense manner.
Erkki-Sven Tüür (February 2002)
Sumera’s mastery of instrumental colour was already evident in 1972, in his first orchestral score, In memoriam. His later adoption of modal harmony and melodic lines – inspired, in part, by regilaul – combined with his acute awareness of sound-colour to impart a timeless quality to much of his music: it often seems to shimmer, to hover weightlessly in some vast space. Yet it is also capable of surges of primal energy and force. His music is beginning to command an international audience, though it has yet to be given a fair hearing in Britain.
Martin Anderson (The Independent, 11 August 2000)
Depth of emotion beneath a glittering surface, sharp intelligence displayed as playfulness, humorous and yet direct in expression: all of these in music and in person.
William Sweeney (from programme notes for his Remembering Lepo for string quartet, premiered in Glasgow, 1 October 2000 )
There is an abundance of sound poetics in Estonian contemporary music. Sumera's music is distinctive because under the spell of his sounds time does not stop, there is some kind of an indicator light in it. And the intoned imagery which surfaces from this spell seems to resemble something, a style world. Like an aroma which evokes a memory.
Evi Arujärv (Postimees, 9 May 2000)
Lepo Sumera seems to have found a soulmate in John Adams. Although they have never met, each, upon hearing the other’s music, was struck by the similarities, according to [Charles] Amirkhanian.
Margaret M. Barela (Musical America, January 1989)
A critic for a Russian music magazine noted that Sumera's music “has an imagery that evokes associations with many phenomena of Estonian art – for instance, lyrical landscapes and fine pictures of nature and poetry”.
Sumera's music builds, however, from simple, peaceful initial ideas into episodes of great contrasts, and thoughts of Glass et al. are put to rest.
Stephen Ellis (Fanfare, January/February 1995, Volume 18, Number 3)
For me Lepo Sumera embodied an ideal of a composer – musically highly gifted and highly professional, he had very diverse cultural interests combined with the qualities of a shrewd psychologist to understand people around him. His range of emotions was genuinely Shakespearean – from very tender to subtly mocking to utterly uncompromising. /—/
I don't believe that without these qualities one can become a great composer and write works which in their best moments make people amazed and happy. I consider that Lepo is important to Estonian music, equal in his emotional and intellectual impact and his professionalism to Tubin or Pärt. Depending on one's taste in music one can prefer one or the other, but the magnitude of his achievement is just the same.
Eino Tamberg (Sirp, 9 June 2000)
1950 Born on 8 May in Tallinn, Estonia, son of Ando and Mary Sumera, engineer and textile designer
1957-1964 Studies accordion at the Tallinn Music School
1964-1968 Studies at the Tallinn Music High School, which he graduates in choral conducting (class of Reet Ratassepp) and composition (class of Veljo Tormis)
1968-1973 Studies composition with Heino Eller (1887-1970) and Heino Jürisalu at the Estonian Academy of Music [Tallinn Conservatory until 1993]
1971-1980 Works as a recording engineer and producer at the Estonian Radio, a state-run broadcasting company
1972 Marries pianist Kersti Einasto; two daughters (born in 1977 and 1987), and a son (1984)
1978-2000 Teaches composition and orchestration at the Estonian Academy of Music (Associate Professor since 1989, Professor since 1993)
1979-1982 Post-graduate studies at the Moscow Conservatory with Roman Ledenev
1980-1986 Senior Consultant at the Estonian Composers’ Union
1988 and 1989 Attends and lectures at the Summer Courses of New Music, Darmstadt
1988 Participates in the Composer-to-Composer Forum in Telluride, Colorado
1989 Composer-in-Residence at the festival New Beginnings, Glasgow
1988-1992 (from December 1988 to April 1, 1992) Minister of Culture of Estonia
1992 Lectures in Musikhochschule in Karlsruhe
1993 Featured Composer at the Norrtälje Chamber Music Festival in Sweden and at the Sydney Spring Festival of New Music
1993-2000 Chairman of the Estonian Composers’ Union
1994 Further study in electronic music at the Center for Art and Media (Karlsruhe)
1995-1999 Director of the Studio of Electronic Music at the Estonian Academy of Music
1995-2000 Chairman of the Board of the Estonian Music Information Centre (founded 1995)
2000 Dies from heart failure in Tallinn on 2 June
1977, 1982, 1985, 1989 Annual awards for Estonian music
1978 The 2nd Prize at the All-Soviet Competition of Works by Young Composers for Music Theatre for Anselm's Story
1980, 1983, 1986 Diplomas for the best film scores at the three first Estonian film festivals
1985 The ESSR National Award for Symphony No.1 and for film music 1973-1984
1990 Award for the best film score at the Animated Film Festival in Espinho, Portugal, for The Brides of Death, directed by Tauno Kivihall
1993 Cultural Award of the Republic of Estonia for Symphony No.4 “Serena borealis” and Play for Two
1996 Cultural Award of the Republic of Estonia for Symphony No.5
1996 Symphony No.5 is selected as the first Recommended Work at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris
1996 The annual prize of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Endowment for Music, for Three Sonnets and Songs from Estonian Matrimonial Lyrics
1999 The Great Bear Cultural Award for Estonian music for Amore et igne
1999 The annual prize of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Endowment for Music, for Heart Affairs
COMPOSER IN OFFICE
It is important to note that independence in Estonia was restored in 1991. The years of 1988-1992 when Lepo Sumera was Minister of Culture were not easy. The Minister's task was to help theatres and concert organizations grappling with financial difficulties and it was impossible to reach decisions that would satisfy everyone. However, during the years of his term in office cultural institutions of Estonia were totally reorganised. Let us name a few most radical changes which took place when Sumera was the Minister and in which he actively participated:
– censorship was abolished;
– copyright law was made and passed (became law in 1993);
– cultural cooperation agreements with other countries were renewed or concluded;
– Estonia became a fully-fledged member of the UNESCO;
– statutes for cultural awards and scholarships of the Republic of Estonia were written.
Sumera was also instrumental in organizing the 10th European Cultural Days in Karlsruhe, Germany (4 April – 31 May, 1992), which were devoted to Estonian culture and aptly called as the greatest export of Estonian culture to date.
LEPO SUMERA (excerpts from interviews):
When I worked as the Minister I also wrote an incredible amount of music. I worked at night, mostly. Instead of organizing bureaucracy, I organized music which yielded much more easily at my will. For me composing is a good source of energy. And I have a feeling that this energy will be stored in between the notes, inside the score. (1997)
The gradual change of different musical landscapes – textures, their slow fusion or "dissolution" in each other is a way of musical thinking. /—/. The fusion of the sonorities, in which the freedom of organization varies – aleatoric and precisely notated sections – associates with musical magma, a substance in which all the potential developments are hidden, in which the spinning of musical atoms – the notes – around their nuclei – harmonies and melodies – has not yet been organized in the traditional sense. This is something absolutely metaphysical! (1998)
There is a diversity of music and art and fiction that is based on different worldviews and different perceptions of the world, completely different rational ideas or emotions. Icelanders view their country and the world through the prism of their own country, which totally differs from the way I do. This is what inspires. Until now I always try to cross the road with my eyes and ears open. So that I wouldn't go from point A to point B without seeing or hearing anything. I'm trying to take in whatever I can. You never know what the next moment will bring. And very often the next moment – oh, but this is what inspiration is all about! (April 2000)
Anselmi lugu / Anselm's Story, ballet in three acts (1977/78)
Libretto: Mai Murdmaa after E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Golden Pot
FP: Tallinn, Estonian National Opera, choreography by Mai Murdmaa, conducted by Vallo Järvi; March 2, 1978
Yashcheritsa / The Lizard / Sisalik, ballet in two acts (1987/93)
Libretto: Andrei Petrov after Alexander Volodin’s play of the same title
Commissioned by the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow; not staged
Pantomiim / Pantomime (1981) 25'
Staged as The Ballad of the Wreath
Libretto and production: Kalle Kurg; the early music consort Hortus Musicus (music from tape), Tartu, Vanemuine Theatre, November 14, 1981
Kaleva, music in three parts for a multimedia dance drama by Bonnie Sue Stein and Marika Blossfeldt (1988)
I The Island Maiden, II Linda Buries Kalev, III Linda Turns Into a Stone
Libretto: Marika Blossfeldt after the Estonian epic poem Kalevipoeg
FP (music from tape): New Haven Artists’ Theatre, New Haven, December 2,1988
Journey, music for one-act ballet by Bonnie Sue Stein (1989)
FP (music from tape): New Haven Artists’ Theatre, New Haven, November 16, 1989, as Part One of Walking to America [music for Part Two was written by Laurie Spiegel]
Olivia meistriklass / Olivia’s Master Class, one-act multimedia chamber opera (1997)
Libretto: Peeter Jalakas after a novel of the same title by Ervin Õunapuu
FP: Tallinn, Von Krahl Theatre, conducted by Olari Elts, directed by Peeter Jalakas; November 24, 25, 26, 1997
Confined Spaces / Piiratud ruumiga, music for one-act ballet by choreographer Mai Murdmaa (1999) 30'
Videotape: December 1999
FP (staged): Tallinn, Estonian National Opera, June 9, 2001
In memoriam, In memory of Heino Eller for symphony orchestra (1972) 10'
FP (broadcast): Estonian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Roman Matsov, Estonian Radio, 1972
FP (concert): Estonian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Neeme Järvi, Tallinn, November 25 1974
Olümpiamuusika I ja II / Olympic Music I and II for symphony orchestra and tape (1980) 5'; 5'
FP (tape): Estonian National Symphony Orchestra [ERSO] / Peeter Lilje, Tallinn, July 20 (I) and July 30, 1980 (II), at the Opening and the Closing Ceremonies of the Yachting Regatta of the 22nd Olympic Games, resp.
FP (concert): Olympic Music I – Atlanta SO / Eri Klas, Atlanta, February 1, 2, 3, 1996
Symphony No.1 (1981) 28'
FP: ERSO / Vitali Katayev, Tallinn, 10 October, 1981
Muusika kammerorkestrile / Music for Chamber Orchestra (1977) 14'30
FP: Chamber Orchestra of the Estonian National Opera / Eri Klas, Tallinn, June 30, 1977
Pikseloits /Thunder Incantation (1983) for symphony orchestra and reciter ad lib. 7'
FP: ERSO / Peeter Lilje (tape), as music for a dance composition by choreoghapher Helju Mikkel, Tallinn, July 20, 1985
Symphony No.2 (1984) 20'
FP: ERSO / Peeter Lilje, Tallinn, April 2, 1984
Ballet Suite (comprises five fragments from The Lizard) 55'
FP (Movements 1-3): ERSO / Paul Mägi, Tallinn, November 22, 1987
FP (Movements 4-5): ERSO / Peeter Lilje, Tallinn, April 16, 1988
Symphony No.3 (1988) 24'
FP: ERSO / Paul Mägi, Tallinn, October 9, 1988
Open(r)ing for symphony orchestra (1989) 15'
FP: SO of the Finnish National Opera / Eri Klas, Helsinki, October 27, 1989
Symphony No.4 Serena borealis (1992) 24'30
FP: Badische Staatskapelle / Eri Klas, Karlsruhe, April 11, 12, 13, 1992
Hobuste ballett / A Ballet of Horses, suite for chamber orchestra (1992) 18'
Initially – a musical composition for Egon von Neindorff’s Klassische Reitkunst, an evening organized at the Riding School
FP: Karlsruhe, October 9, 1992
Musica tenera for symphony orchestra (1992) 10'
FP: ERSO / Peeter Lilje, Tallinn, October 10,1992
Nostalgilised faktuurid / Nostalgic Textures for symphony orchestra (1994) 6’
Symphony No.5 (1995) 34'
FP: Malmö SO / Paavo Järvi, Malmö, October 26 and 27, 1995
Come cercando for string orchestra (1995) 19'
FP: Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra / Juha Kangas, Kokkola (Finland), November 11, 1995
Musica profana for string orchestra (1997) 11'
FP: Tallinn Baroque Orchestra / Aivo Välja, Tallinn, April 12, 1997
Symphōnē for string orchestra and percussion (1998) 8'30
FP: The Academic Orchestra of Hortus Musicus / Andres Mustonen, Tallinn, April 15, 1998
Symphony No. 6 (2000)
FP: ERSO / Arvo Volmer, Tartu, May 5, Tallinn, May 6, 2000
WORKS FOR SOLO INSTRUMENT(S) AND ORCHESTRA
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1989) 18'
FP: Kalle Randalu, piano, Joensuu SO / Peeter Lilje, Joensuu (Finland) October 11, 1989
Revised version 1997: Lauri Väinmaa, ERSO / Arvo Volmer, CD Finlandia Records 1997
Musik für Karlsruhe im Barockstil for harp and string orchestra (1989) 28'
Initially music for a film about Karlsruhe
FP (concert): Pärnu Chamber Orchestra / Ilmar Tõnisson, Toronto, May 30, l990
To the Harmony for flute and string orchestra (or for 3 or more string quartets; 1993) 9'30
FP: Gunilla von Bahr, flute, Tallinn String Quartet, Stockholm Quartet, Lysellkvartett, Avanti! Quartet / Arvo Volmer, Norrtälje (Sweden), July 6, 1993
Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (1998/99) 30'
FP: David Geringas, cello, Het Residentie Orkest / Paavo Järvi, The Hague, May 14, 1999
Concerto grosso for soprano saxophone, percussion, piano and symphony orchestra (2000) 17'
FP: Anders Paulsson, saxophone, Mark Pekarski, percussion, Rein Rannap, piano, ERSO / Andres Mustonen, Tallinn, April 29, 2000
Kolm maailmaimet / Three Wonders of the World, piano concerto for young musicians for piano and chamber orchestra or piano quintet (1998) 4'
FP: Tallinn, March 19, 1998 (The required new work at the Competition for Young Pianists)
Elust ja surmast / About Life and Death, cantata for mixed chorus and symphony orchestra (1975) 15'
Text (Estonian): Ly Seppel
FP: Choir and orchestra of the Estonian TV and Radio / Neeme Järvi, Tallinn, November 30, 1975
Seenekantaat / Mushroom Cantata in four movements for mixed chorus, flute, piano and percussion (1978/83) 19'
Text (Latin): Henn-Kaarel Hellat
FP: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir / Tõnu Kaljuste:
I Carmen veris / Spring Song (based on Carmen veris for bass and wind quintet, see Other Vocal Works) – Tallinn, August 27, 1979
II Timor / Fear – Tallinn, February 7, 1981
III Carmen autumnus / Autumn Song – Tallinn, April 23, 1982
IV Luxuria – Tartu, February 10, 1996, Tallinn, February 11, 1996; and, at the same time, FP of the whole cantata
Laulupeo tuli / The Song Festival Flame, cantata for boys’ chorus, male chorus and percussion (1985) 5'
Text (Estonian): Mario Kivistik
FP: Choirs of the Estonian National Male Choir / Olev Oja, Tallinn, July 20, 1985
Arranged for mixed choir 1985
Kui tume veel kauaks ka sinu maa / How long will your homeland be in dark for unaccompanied mixed chorus (1985) 3'
Text (Estonian): Juhan Liiv
FP: Finnish Radio Chamber Choir / Tõnu Kaljuste, Helsinki, 1985
Saare piiga laul merest / Island Maiden's Song from the Sea, cantata for mixed chorus (divided into two), speech choir and bass drum (1988) 26'
Text: Estonian epic poem Kalevipoeg
Fragments of the cantata were used in Part One of Kaleva (see Stage Works)
FP (broadcast): Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir / Tõnu Kaljuste, Estonian Radio, March 1988
FP (concert): Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir / Tõnu Kaljuste, Tallinn, February 23, 2001
Linda matab Kalevit / Linda Buries Kalev for mezzo-soprano, vocal quintet or chamber choir and early music ensemble (1988/96) 16'
Text: Estonian epic poem
Revised version of Part Two of Kaleva (see Stage Works)
FP: Kadri Hunt, mezzo-soprano, ensemble Linnamuusikud / Taivo Niitvägi, Tallinn, April 12, 1996
Kolm sonetti / Three Sonnets for soprano, reciter, boys’ chorus and symphony orchestra (1996) 24'
Text (English / Estonian): Shakespeare
I To me, my friend (No.104.); II Then hate me when thou wilt (No.90.); III Why lov'st thou that which thou receiv'st not gladly? (No.8.)
FP: Pirjo Levandi, soprano, Mikk Mikiver, reciter, Boys’ Choir of the Estonian National Male Choir, ERSO; I, II conducted by Paul Mägi, Tallinn, October 13, 1996; III conducted by Ravil Martynov, Tallinn, December 12, 1996
Concerto per voci e strumenti for mixed chorus and string orchestra (1997) 14'
Text: (Estonian / absurd): Doris Kareva
FP: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and Tallinn Chamber Orchestra / Tõnu Kaljuste, Tallinn, September 20, 1997
Armastuse ja tulega / Amore et igne / With Love and Fire for narrator, mixed chorus and symphony orchestra (1997) 32'
Text: (Estonian; Latin) Linnar Priimägi and Lepo Sumera after The Chronicle of Henricus de Lettis (13th century)
FP: Ain Lutsepp, narrator, Choir of the Estonian National Opera, ERSO / Arvo Volmer, Tallinn, February 24, 1998
OTHER VOCAL WORKS
Seenekantaat / Mushroom Cantata Carmen veris / Spring Song for bass and wind quintet (1978) 5'
Text (Latin): Henn-Kaarel Hellat
FP: Mati Palm, bass, Wind quintet of ERSO, Tallinn, November 12, 1978
Laulud eesti abielulüürikast / Songs from Estonian Matrimonial Lyrics for bass (baritone) and piano (1996) 14'
FP: Villu Valdmaa, baritone, Martti Raide, piano, Tallinn, April 4, 1996
Kaks Shakespeare’i sonetti / Two Sonnets of Shakespeare for voice and piano (1999) 4'; 3'
My Music (No. 128), ‘Tis better to be vile (No. 121)
Text in English
FP: Pille Lill, soprano, Marje Lohuaru, piano, Tartu, June 28, Tallinn, June 29, 1999
Arranged for soprano and saxophone quartet, 2000
FP: Pille Lill and Tallinn Saxophone Quartet, Tallinn, January 18, 2000
Tähed / Stars for soprano and piano (2000) 5'
Text (Estonian): Marie Under
FP: Pille Lill, soprano, Heili Vaus-Tamm, piano, Haapsalu (Estonia), February 23, 2000
Ostinato-variatsioonid / Ostinato Variations (1967) 5'
FP: Lepo Sumera, Tallinn, June 29, 1968
Fugett ja postlüüd / Fughetta and Postlude (1973) 3'
FP: Kersti Sumera, Tallinn, May 25, 1973
Pianissimo (1976) 7'
FP: Kersti Sumera, Tallinn, February 28, 1976
Kaks pala aastast 1981 / Two Pieces from the Year 1981 (1981) 7'; 6'30
FP: I 1981 (The Piece from the Year 1981) – Kersti Sumera, Tallinn, March 15, 1981
FP: II Pardon, Fryderyk! – Kersti Sumera, Tallinn, September 1981
Autogramm Reinule / Autograph for Rein (1999) 2'30
FP: Rein Rannap, Tallinn, March 26, 1999
WORKS FOR TWO PIANOS
In Es (1978) 6'30
FP: Nata-Ly Sakkos and Toivo Peäske, Tallinn, April 25, 1978;
Nora Novik and Raffi Kharajanyan, Baku, April 25, 1978
Kümme kaanonit / Ten Canons (1985) 8'
FP: Nata-Ly Sakkos and Toivo Peäske, Tallinn, May 19,1985
Variatsioon Nora ja Raffi duo juubeli puhul / Variation written on the jubilee of Nora and Raffi duo (1987) 3'
Part of Vernissage, a work consisting of 20 variations by 20 composers, written on a theme of a Latvian folk tune
FP: Nora Novik and Raffi Kharajanyan, Riga, October 23, 1987
FP of the whole Vernissage: Nora Novik and Raffi Kharajanyan, Riga, April 30, 1988 (at the 20th anniversary of the duo)
One Without Two (1993) 6'
FP: Nata-Ly Sakkos and Toivo Peäske, Jyväskylä (Finland), June 21, 1993
PIANO PIECES FOR CHILDREN
Liblikas, kes ärkas talvel üles / The Butterfly Who Woke Up In Winter (1982) 3'
FP: at the competition of new piano pieces for children, Tallinn, April 2, 1982
Nukker toreadoor / The Sad Toreador (1984) 5'
FP: at the competition of new piano pieces for children, Tallinn, March 4, 1984
Targem annab järele / The One Who Is Wiser Concedes (1984) 1'30
FP: at the competition of new piano pieces for children, Tallinn, March 4, 1984
Ruumiheli / Space Sound for bowed piano (1997) 14'
FP: The Bowed Piano Ensemble / Timo Steiner, Tartu, November 24, Tallinn, November 25, 1997
WORKS FOR OTHER SOLO INSTRUMENTS AND CHAMBER MUSIC
Mäng puhkpillidele / Play for Wind Instruments for wind quintet (1976) 14'
FP: Wind quintet of ERSO, Tallinn, March 30, l976
Kaks pala sooloviiulile / Two Pieces for Solo Violin (1977) 5'
FP (broadcast): Niina Murdvee, Estonian TV, September 27, 1977
Malera Kasuku Trio / Trio by Malera Kasuku for piano trio (1977) 20'
A collaborative composition by Mati Kuulberg, Lepo Sumera and Raimo Kangro
FP: Jüri Gerretz, violin, Toomas Velmet, cello, Valdur Roots, piano, Tallinn, November 2, 1977
Sarvelugu / A Horn Piece for French horn solo (1977) 4'
FP: Tallinn, March 13, 1978 (The required new piece for horn players at the all-Estonian competition for young players of wind instruments
Pantomiim / Pantomine for early music consort (1981) 25' (see Stage Works)
FP (concert): Hortus Musicus / Andres Mustonen, Tallinn, November 11, 1993
Quasi improvisata (I) for violin and piano or other keyboard instrument (1983) 5'30
FP (initial title: Improvisation): Mari Tampere, violin, Ivo Sillamaa, piano, Tallinn, November 9, 1983
1983/93 – versions for other instruments with keyboard: flute; viola (or bassoon); cello; clarinet, et al.
Valss / Waltz for violin and piano (1984) 3'
FP (broadcast): Niina Murdvee, violin, Nata-Ly Sakkos, piano, Estonian TV, June 5, 1984
FP (concert): Niina Murdvee, Kersti Sumera, Tallinn, February 9, 1986
Kaks capriccio't sooloklarnetile / Two Capriccios for Solo Clarinet (1984) 3'
FP: Vello Sakkos, Tallinn, February 11, 1984
Senza metro per clarinetto A e pianoforte (1986) 9'
FP: Tallinn, November 24, 1986 (The required piece for clarinet players at the all-Estonian competition for young performers of wind and percussion instruments)
Quasi improvisata II for guitar (or electric guitar or 12-stringed guitar) and keyboard instrument (piano, harpsichord, organ or synthesizer) (1988) 10'
FP: Boris Björn Bagger, guitar, Kalle Randalu, piano, Tallinn, February 9, 1988
Versions for other instruments
Boris Björn Baggerile ja tema sõbrale / For BBB And His Friend for melody instrument (flute, recorder or mandoline) and guitar (or electric guitar or 12-stringed guitar) (1988) 10'30
FP: Boris Björn Bagger, guitar, Jaan Õun, flute, Tallinn, February 9, 1988
1989: version for flute, cello and piano
FP: Dita Krenberga, flute, Inga Suta, cello, Ventis Zilberts, piano, Riga, May 24, 1989
1991: version for cello (or bassoon or viola) and guitar
To Reach Yesterday for cello and piano (1993) 12'
FP: Georg Pedersen, cello, Tanel Joamets, piano, Sydney, October 24, 1993
Lisapala / Encore for flute, clarinet and two pianos (1993) 3'30
FP: Mihkel Peäske, flute, Toomas Vavilov, clarinet, Jana Peäske and Tanel Joamets, pianos, Sydney, October 24, 1993
1996: version for string orchestra
String Quartet (1995) 11'
FP: Tallinn String Quartet, Viljandi, March 24, Haapsalu, March 25, Tallinn, March 26, 1995
Spiel für 10 / Play for 10 Canone terribile, alla diavola for 10 instruments (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass) (1995) 20'
FP: Ensemble Villa Musica, Neuwied-Engers, May 21, 1995
Scenario for flute, bass clarinet and piano (1995) 12'
FP: HET-Trio, Tallinn, November 26, 1995
Eesti Raadio 70 for large ensemble (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, percussion, violin, viola, cello, double bass) and 4 pianists (1996) 10'
FP: Nata-Ly Sakkos and Toivo Peäske, pianos (with 2 pre-recorded piano parts), NYYD Ensemble / Olari Elts, Tallinn, December 20, 1996
Con anima for saxophone quartet (1997) 10'
FP: Tallinn Saxophone Quartet, Tallinn, March 4, 1997
Odaliskid / Odalisques (1997/99)
Vaikiv odalisk / Silent Odalisque for flute solo (1997) 4'
FP: Janika Lentsius, Saku, April 8, Tallinn, April 9, 1997
Tantsiv odalisk / Dancing Odalisque for flute, guitar and cello (1999) 4';
Laulev Odalisk / Singing Odalisque for flute, guitar and cello (1999) 3';
Nukker odalisk / Sorrowful Odalisque for flute, guitar and cello (1999) 3'
FP of the three new pieces and of the entire cycle: Janika Lentsius, flute, Heiki Mätlik, guitar, Henry-David Varema, cello, Tallinn, March 27, 1999
Lupus in fabula for 4 saxophones (1998) 16'
FP: Tallinn Saxophone Quartet, Tallinn, December 15, 1998
Maa, kus ei kasva puid / The Land Where Trees Don’t Grow for saxophone, accordion, keyboard and vibraphone (1998) 5'
FP: Villu Veski, saxophone, Tiit Kalluste, accordion, Eduard Akulin, synthesizer, Madis Metsamart, vibraphone, Tallinn, April 22, 1999
Avakaanon / Opening Canon for 4 or more saxophones (1999) 8'30
FP: Tallinn Saxophone Quartet, Riga Saxophone Quartet, Nic Gotham, Raivo Tafenau, Meelis Vind, Tallinn, April 21, 1999
Meie! / We! for 4 percussionists (2000) 5'
FP: Vambola Krigul, Anto Õnnis, Rein Roos, Kaspar Eisel, Tartu, May 8, Tallinn, May 10, 2000
ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC AND MULTIMEDIA WORKS
From 29 to 49 for guitar or lute, cello (ad lib.) and tape (1989) 9'
FP: Boris Björn Bagger, guitar, Martin Ostertag, cello, Karlsruhe, October 31, 1989
Version for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion and live-electronics (1993)
FP: Ensemble Hortus Musicus / Andres Mustonen, Tallinn, November 11, 1993
Music for Glasgow for chamber orchestra, computer and synthesizer, a collaborative work (the result of a teaching project) with Strathclyde School children, Glasgow (1989) 15'
FP: Paragon Ensemble and Students of Douglas Academy / David Davies, Glasgow, November 26, 1989
The Borders for acoustic and amplified instruments (bassoon, soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone, piano, synthesizer, violin) and live-electronics (1990)
Ja nii tagasi ja nii edasi / And Back And Forth for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, vibraphone, computers and live-electronics (1991) 25'
FP: Peeter Malkov, Toomas Vavilov, Ulrika Kristian, Leho Karin, Terje Terasmaa, Lepo Sumera, sound, Tallinn, February 21, 1991
Revised version 1993
FP: 25.11.1993 Mihkel Peäske, Toomas Vavilov, Kaido Välja, Leho Karin, Madis Metsamart, Lepo Sumera, Tallinn, November 25, 1993
Mäng kahele / Play for Two for violin, percussion and live-electronics (1992) 20'
FP: Toomas Nestor, violin, Madis Metsamart, percussion, Lepo Sumera sound, Tallinn, November 26, 1992
Version 1998: Play for Two with Stockholm Extension (with string quartet and vocal ensemble)
FP: Stockholm, June 9, 1998
Space and Time for piano and live-electronics (1993)11'
FP: Tanel Joamets, piano, Lepo Sumera, sound, Sydney, October 24, 1993
Dracula ja Zombie laps / Dracula and Zombie’s Child for Renaissance instruments and live-electronics (1993) 25'
FP: Hortus Musicus / Andres Mustonen, Lepo Sumera, sound, Tallinn, November 11, 1993
Klaveri hääl / Voice of the Piano for piano(s) and live-electronics (1997)
FP: Patrick Scheyder, Mati Mikalai, piano improvisations, Lepo Sumera, sound, Pärnu, August 10, 1997; Tallinn, August 11, 1997
Raul Meele juhtumus / The Case of Raul Meel, cantata for tape (14')
Text: Peeter Sauter
Initially – music for the exhibition Vita Aborigenum by the graphic artist Raul Meel, Tallinn 1997
FP of the concert version: Tallinn, December 2, 1998
Olivia meistriklass / Olivia’s Master Class, multimedia chamber opera for soprano, 2 male actors, instrumental ensemble (flute, clarinet, 2 trumpets, percussion, synthesizer, violin, cello), videotape and live video (1997) 55'
FP: Pirjo Levandi, soprano, Guido Kangur, Jüri Peetson, actors, NYYD Ensemble / Olari Elts (see Stage Works)
Südameasjad / Heart Affairs, multimedia work for flute, soprano saxophone, cello, percussion, audiotape, videotape, live video and live-electronics (1999) 32' – 35'
Preliminary FP: Neeme Punder, Villu Veski, Aare Tammesalu, Madis Metsamart, Lepo Sumera (sound), Artur Talvik and Jüri Shestakov (video), Tallinn, May 31, 1999
FP: Janika Lentsius, Villu Veski, Aare Tammesalu, Madis Metsamart, Lepo Sumera, Artur Talvik, Jüri Shestakov, Tallinn, November 24, 1999
FILM SCORES AND MUSIC FOR DRAMA THEATRE (more than 70)
Lepo Sumera’s music is published by:
edition 49 – principal publisher
Albstr. 59, Ettlingen D-76275, Germany
Lauteri 7c, 10145 Tallinn, Estonia
Music for Chamber Orchestra, Symphonies No. 1-3, Piano Concerto, The Lizard, and Ballet Suite are published by
Fennica Gehrman Oy Ab
Lönnrotinkatu 20 B, PO Box 158, FIN-00121 Helsinki, Finland
ERSO (Estonian National Symphony Orchestra) / Eri Klas
Melodyia C10 09239-40 (LP; 1977)
Symphony No.1; Pantomime
ERSO / Vitali Katayev; Ensemble Hortus Musicus /Andres Mustonen
Melodiya C10 17833-4 (LP; 1982)
Nata-Ly Sakkos and Toivo Peäske, pianos
Melodiya C10-18907 (LP; 1983)
Music for Chamber Orchestra; Olympic Music I; Symphony No. 2
ERSO / Peeter Lilje
Melodiya C10 24357 007 (LP; 1986)
Piece from the Year 1981
Melodiya C10 24111 007 (LP; 1986)
Two pieces from the Year 1981: 1. — ; 2. Pardon, Fryderyk!
Melodiya C10 27379 008 (LP; 1988)
From 29 to 49
Boris Björn Bagger, guitar; Martin Ostertag, cello; tape
Erdenklang CD 29612 (1992)
Piece from the Year 1981
Finlandia Records CD 4509-95704 (1994)
For B.B.B. and His Friend
Jaan Õun, flute; Heiki Mätlik, guitar
Finlandia Records CD 4509-95705-2 (1994)
For B.B.B. and His Friend
Jean Claude Gérard, flute; Boris Björn Bagger, guitar
Signum CD SIGX51-00 (1994)
Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3
Malmö SO / Paavo Järvi
BIS-CD 660 (1994)
Piano Concerto; Symphony No. 4 Serena borealis; Musica tenera
Kalle Randalu, piano; Malmö SO / Paavo Järvi
BIS-CD 690 (1994)
Piano Piece from 1981
Proprius Music PRCD 9113 (1995)
In memoriam; Music for Chamber Orchestra; Symphony No. 5
Malmö SO / Paavo Järvi
BIS-CD 770 (1996)
Symphony No. 2
ERSO / Peeter Lilje
Eesti Raadio CD 006/007 (1996)
Lauri Väinmaa, piano; ERSO / Arvo Volmer
Finlandia Records CD 3984-20684-2 (1997)
Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra / Juha Kangas
Finlandia Records CD 3984-21448-2 (1998)
Waltz (1995) from music to Lermontov’s drama Masquerade, arranged by Lepo Sumera in 1998
Henry-David Varema, cello; Heiki Mätlik, guitar; Cornelia Lootsman, harp
© H.-D. Varema / H. Mätlik (CD1998)
ERSO / Eri Klas
ERCD 019 (from the sound archives of the Estonian Radio; recorded 1977, CD 1998)
The Land Where Trees Don’t Grow (arranged by Villu Veski)
Villu Veski, saxophone; Tiit Kalluste, accordion
Orbital Vox Studios OVRCD 002 (1998)
Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra / Juha Kangas
Finlandia Records CD 3984-29718-2 (2000)
Janika Lentsius, flute; Henry-David Varema cello; Heiki Mätlik, guitar
Eesti Raadio – ERCD 030 (2000)
Film Music by Lepo Sumera
Fragments of music for the feature films Dr Stockmann, The Stolen Meeting, The Bird Watcher, and However, Smile!; for the animation films The Hell, The Beggar, The Spring Fly, The City, The War
Antes Edition BM-CD 31.9155 (2001)
Piece from the Year 1981; Come cercando; Piano Concerto; For B.B.B. And His Friend
Lauri Väinmaa, piano; ERSO /Arvo Volmer
Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra / Juha Kangas
Jaan Õun, flute; Heiki Mätlik, guitar
Finlandia Records CD 8573-82186-2 (2001; original recordings at FR 1994-2000, compiled 2001)
Symphony No. 2
SO of Norrlands Opera / Kristjan Järvi
CCn’C Records 01912 SACD (2001)
From Three Sonnets (Shakespeare): Music to hear, No. 8; Then hate me when thou wilt, No. 90
Pirjo Levandi, soprano; Mikk Mikiver, reciter; Estonian Boys’ Choir; ERSO / Paul Mägi
Eesti Raadio ERCD031 (2001)
Play for 10 Canone terribile, alla diavola
Absolute Ensemble / Kristjan Järvi
Enja Nova: ENJ-9394 2 (CD 2001)
Songs from Estonian Matrimonial Lyrics
Villu Valdmaa, baritone; Martti Raide, piano
ARM Music ARMCD004 (2002)
Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 5
ERSO / Peeter Lilje; ERSO /Arvo Volmer
Eesti Raadio – Lepo Sumera Society (CD 2002)
Quasi improvisata, For BBB and His Friend; Two Pieces for Violin Solo; Waltz; Two Capriccios; Odalisques; Senza metrum per clarinetto A e pianoforte; The Sad Toreador; Lupus in Fabula
Niina Murdvee, violin; Kadri-Ann Sumera, Peep Lassmann, pianos; Jaan Õun, Janika Lentsius, flutes; Boris Björn Bagger, guitar; Toomas Vavilov, Meelis Vind, clarinets; Henry-David Varema, cello; Heiki Mätlik, guitar; Tallinn Saxophone Quartet
Antes Edition BM-CD 31.9185 (2002)
Musica profana; Cello Concerto; Symphony No. 6
David Geringas, cello; ERSO / Paavo Järvi
BIS-CD 1360 (2003)
For B.B.B. And His Friend
Detlef Tewes, mandolin; Boris Björn Bagger, guitar
hänssler Classic CD 98.453 (2003)
Con Anima; Lupus in Fabula
Tallinn Saxophone Quartet (Olavi Kasemaa, Villu Veski, Valdur Neumann, Hendrik Nagla)
edition 49.0349 (CD 2003)
Scenario; Two Pieces from the Year 1981 (1. — ; 2. Pardon, Fryderyk!); The Silent Odalisque; To Reach Yesterday; Two Sonnets of Shakespeare (My Music, No. 128, ‘Tis better to be vile, No. 121); Stars
Reval Ensemble (Neeme Punder, flute; Meelis Vind, bass clarinet; Lea Leiten, piano; Aare Tammesalu, cello); Alexander Ivashkevitch, tap dance; Pille Lill, soprano; Marje Lohuaru, piano
Megadisc CD MDC 7814 (2003)
Pantomime; Dracula and Zombie’s Child
Ensemble Hortus Musicus / Andres Mustonen
Eesti Raadio ERCD 045 (2003)
LEPO SUMERA was one of the most gifted and versatile composers in Estonia. An admired symphonist and a pioneer in electro-acoustic and computer music, he was also much sought after as a chamber music composer and the musicians frequently asked him to write new pieces for them. Film directors appreciated his skill to create the atmosphere and delineate the character. Lepo Sumera’s music has been performed in most European countries as well as in the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia.
The symphony orchestra was Sumera’s favourite medium, and the symphony became the major genre in his output. As a genre, it matches Sumera's individual talents, his ability to ‘dive’ into the musical material, to create extensive formal arches. His use of orchestral colours displays remarkable subtlety and a power of imagination. At the same time, timbre has an important dramatic function in his music.
From the stylistic point of view, the first two symphonies (1981; 1984) are closely related; diatonic modes, long sections of motivic repetition and variation that appear in complex polyrhythmic and tonally ambiguous textures are characteristic of his works written in 1981-86. Since the late 1980s he preferred chromatic synthetic modes, some of them created by him, and paid special attention to the variety of harmonic colours. In that period he wrote his Third Symphony (1988) and Fourth Symphony “Serena Borealis” (1992). The complex textures in the anxious, explosive Fifth Symphony (1995) are based on an extensive use of aleatoric counterpoint (determined aleatorics).
With the Third Symphony, ‘endless’ meditative sonic fields and melodic lines appeared in Sumera’s music. In his translucent Sixth Symphony (2000), which remained his last work, we find the most fascinating, enigmatic, and tragic meditative music he ever wrote.
His symphonies reflect his most serious and painful experience. Many of his choral and chamber music compositions reveal the person with a vivid sense of humour behind them. The amazingly witty and original ideas in some of his works – Mushroom Cantata (with its text consisting of Latin names of mushrooms), Play for Ten, Songs from Estonian Matrimonial Lyrics, for instance, seem to have sprung from a momentary flash of a sunny mood.
What is the ‘niche’ for Sumera’s music in the universe of contemporary music? Judging him on the basis of a work or two, and departing from the paradigm of a ’pedigree’ style of modern music, the critic might call him a chameleon; some have done so. Incidentally, in his music for films or dramas he really liked to ‘assume new roles’: he enjoyed writing a lovely old-fashioned waltz or a piece of funky rock music, if it was required.
In his works for concert stage he would employ new stylistic means if his vision of a new work required them. With each new work, he started from scratch.
The truth is that from the very beginning his musical language demonstrates an individual approach to contemporary composition techniques. For example, in the late 1960s he studied Schoenberg’s counterpoint, and wrote some neat pieces in a strict 12-tone system. In a few years he was convinced that they would not enter his worklist. He admired Messiaen (and studied his composition technique too) and Berio’s Sinfonia, but copied neither of them in his own Fughetta and Postlude, In memoriam, or Play for the Wind Instruments. He would use a particular technique in a particular section as a means for certain musical characters, contrasted with other means and characters (and in some of his works the ironic, postmodern attitude emerges). Yet the texture is always coherent and different devices employed in the work are parts of the whole.
A larger picture of Sumera’s music reveals that the seemingly controversial elements are integrated in his idiom in a highly idiosyncratic way, the essentials of which never changed: the acoustic sensibility; the ambiguity of musical characters; the autonomous expressive power of the overall form.
He retained these essentials in electro-acoustic music, which became increasingly important during the last decade of his life. In his film scores he had been using electronic means since the mid-1970s when the cultural ideology refused to acknowledge that there was electronic music for concert stages, and there were no electronic music studios in Estonia (the composers interested in that area used the limited possibilities of recording technology).
The situation changed in the 1990s. Sumera was particularly fascinated by live electronics. As a composer with a lot of experience with film directors, he naturally got interested in multimedia. Alongside the Cello Concerto and the Sixth Symphony, the multimedia composition Heart Affairs is the top achievement of his last years.
The technological side of the work is most complicated and its origin is perhaps the most amazing example of the composer's imagination combined with a shrewd analytical mind.
Lepo Sumera had his heart examined for the first time in 1997. He saw the echocardiogram of his heart and was given the chance to listen to its sounds and rhythms. And he immediately recognized the artistic qualities of the ‘image’! Both audio and video material of his Heart Affairs are derived from a human heart – not from the composer’s heart, as the legend goes, but from a perfectly healthy one. But the work is more than a picture of a single heart: it depicts the fragility and beauty of human existence.
LEPO SUMERA SOCIETY
On 21 October 2000, before the concert in memory of Lepo Sumera at the Estonian Academy of Music, his friends and colleagues gathered to establish Lepo Sumera Society with an aim to publish and publicize his life-work. The seventeen founding members were:
Eino Tamberg, composer, Head of the Composition Department of the Estonian Academy of Music
Erkki-Sven Tüür, composer
Alo Põldmäe, composer, Head of the Music Department of the Estonian Museum of Theatre and Music
Peep Lassmann, pianist, Rector of the Estonian Academy of Music
Olari Elts, Paavo Järvi and Tõnu Kaljuste, conductors
Arvo Iho, film director and producer
Artur Talvik, film director and producer
Mikk Mikiver, stage director
Madis Kolk, Producer at the Eesti Kontsert, Estonian National Concert Agency
Martin Anderson, music critic (London)
Tonio Tamra, Vice Rector in Administrative Affairs at the Estonian Academy of Music; former composition student of Lepo Sumera
Daiva Parulskiene, Director of the Lithuanian Music Information and Publishing Centre
Mare Põldmäe (1955-2002), Director of the Estonian Music Information Centre
Reet Remmel, Head of the Department of International Relations and European Integration, Ministry of Culture of Estonia
Kersti Sumera, wife of the late composer
LSS has organized
– concerts of Lepo Sumera's works in cooperation with the Eesti Kontsert, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Estonian National Opera
– launches of new CDs featuring Lepo Sumera’s music
– press conferences
LSS has initiated
– a CD featuring Lepo Sumera's chamber music (Reval Ensemble, Megadisc Co.; to be released in 2003)
– a CD featuring Sumera's choral compositions (the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir under the direction of Tõnu Kaljuste)
– the arrangement of Lepo Sumera's archives at the Estonian Museum of Theatre and Music
– the International Lepo Sumera Composition Contest for Young Composers in which the LSS was the chief organizer.
The International Lepo Sumera Composition Contest for Young Composers 2003 was announced in February 2002. The entries which had arrived in Tallinn by late December 2002 – 92 scores for new symphonic works (of duration 9'-13') – surpassed all the organizers' expectations. The entries were anonymous; judging by the postage stamps there were participants from 27 countries: the USA (19), Italy, Russia (7 from each), Germany, Poland (5), Argentina, Estonia, Finland, Japan, UK (4), Australia, France and Spain (3), Azerbaijan, China, Holland, Israel, Lithuania, New Zealand (2), Albania, Brasilia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, and Switzerland (1).
The 2003 Composition Contest Jury:
Anders Hillborg, composer (Sweden)
Roman Ledenev, composer (Russia)
Eino Tamberg, composer (Estonia)
Olari Elts, conductor (Estonia)
Erkki-Sven Tüür, composer, Chairman of the Board of the LSS (Tüür replaced Peter-Jan Wagemans from Holland who resigned in December 2002)
In January 2003 the jury selected five compositions to enter the second round. The five best works that were selected through vote turned out to be the works by composers from five different countries. On 5 April 2003 the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Olari Elts performed the five best works. After the concert three winners were pronounced.
Alberto Colla (Italy) –– Starlights (the 1st prize).
Naomi Sekiya (Japan) –– Undulation (the 2nd prize)
Tõnu Kõrvits (Estonia) –– Eldorado (the 3rd prize)
Nicolas Gilbert (Canada) –– Tchal-Kouyrouk et la septième face du cube
Evrim Demirel (Turkey) –– Evolution
Lepo Sumera's Symphony No. 1 (1981) was also be performed at the final concert.
At a general meeting the LSS took a decision that the competition should become a regular event featuring works in different musical genres. It was also decided that Lepo Sumera's music will be performed at the final concert alongside the winning compositions.
The LSS has established partnership links with the Estonian Authors’ Society, the Eesti Kontsert, the Estonian National Opera, the Estonian Composers’ Union, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, the Estonian Academy of Music, the Estonian Music Information Centre, and the Estonian State Broadcasting Company.
The LSS activities have been supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, the Estonian National Culture Foundation, the Ministry of Culture of Estonia, and the Tallinn Municipality.
Editor: Merike Vaitmaa
Language editor: Krista Mits
Lepo Sumera Ühing / Lepo Sumera Society
Phone: (+372) 6605 007
© Lepo Sumera Society, 2003