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.
René 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.
Tiit Peterson, Neeme Punder, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Paul Mägi, Heiki Mätlik, Esteban Colucci, Donato D’Antonio, Eleftheria Kotzia, Harry Traksmann…
|Der Morgen der Skulptur / Skulptuuri hommik
Heiki Mätlik, Tiit Peterson, Jüri Leiten, Andres Uibo, Neeme Punder
Antes Classics BM-CD 31.9161
François Soulet, Jelena Voznesenskaya, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Risto Joost…
Kaia Urb, Sauli Tiilikainen, Tiit Peterson, Neeme Punder, Olev Ainomäe, Meelis Vind…
2009 / 2010
Maarika Järvi, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Kristjan Järvi
|Eesti portreed / Estonian Portraits
Antes Editiojn Classics BM-CD 31.9160
Toomas Vavilov, Handbell Ensemble Arsis
|The Best of Arsis Bells
Toomas Vavilov, Handbell Ensemble Arsis
Clarinet Concerto, fragm, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra / Risto Joost, 104 sec, mp3
Invocatio, fragm, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, 3 min 22 sec, mp3
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.