In the 1990s, Tormis also began to receive commissions from some of the pre-eminent a cappella groups in the West such as the King's Singers and the Hilliard Ensemble. Tormis has famously said of his settings of traditional melodies and verse: "It is not I who makes use of folk music, it is folk music that makes use of me." His work demonstrates his conviction that traditional Estonian and other Balto-Finnic music represents a treasure which must be guarded and nourished, and that culture may be kept alive through the medium of song. Born in Kuusalu in 1930, Tormis had a profound experience with choral music starting at an early age. His father was a choral director, organist, and music teacher. His delight in the contrasting timbres provided by the organ stops may also be connected to his later orchestration of choral textures, a hallmark of his mature style. Tormis began his formal musical education in 1943 at the Tallinn Music School, but was interrupted by World War II and illness. In 1949, he entered the Tallinn Conservatory and continued his studies at the Moscow Conservatory (1951–1956).
He quickly acquired teaching positions at the Tallinn Music School (1955–60) and the Tallinn Music High School (1962–66), but by 1969 was supporting himself exclusively as a freelance composer. From his student days until his retirement from composition in 2000, Tormis composed over 500 individual choral songs, as well as other vocal and instrumental pieces, 35 film scores, and an opera. Despite the censorship of several of his more politically provocative works in the late 1970s and the 1980s, he remained an incredibly celebrated composer whose works were performed throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In Eastern Europe, he is regarded as one of the great contributors to the 20th century repertory of choral music. Dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 has allowed increased access to the Soviet censored compositional output.
The music of Tormis, along with other composers in the region, is experiencing increased rates of programing and publishing, allowing for increased appreciation of the choral and vocal music traditions. Selected works Kihnu pulmalaulud (Kihnu Island Wedding Songs), 1959 Overture No. 2, 1959 Sügismaastikud (Autumn Landscapes), 1964 Luigelend (opera), 1965 Eesti kalendrilaulud (Estonian Calendar Songs), 1966–67 Maarjamaa ballaad (Ballad of Mary's Land), 1967 Raua needmine (Curse Upon Iron), 1972 Pikse litaania (Litany To Thunder), 1974 Eesti ballaadid (Estonian Ballads), 1980 Laulusild (Bridge of Song), 1981 Varjele, Jumalan soasta (God, Protect us from War), 1984 Unustatud rahvad (Forgotten People's), 1970–89 Piispa ja pakana (The Bishop And The Pagan), 1992 Incantatio maris aestuosi (Incantation for a Stormy Sea), 1996 Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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