Known for over thirty years in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the music of Estonian composer Veljo Tormis (born 1930) was not heard in the West until the 1990s. Tormis has written more than 200 choral works, an opera, a ballet/cantata, thirty film scores,vocal and instrumental chamber music, solo songs, and several orchestral pieces. Educated at the Tallinn and Moscow Conservatories, Tormis has integrated the techniques of 20th-century art music with the melodies of the regilaul or ancient Estonian folksong.
Ancient Song Recovered: The Life and Music of Veljo Tormis is the first book in a Western language about a master of 20th-century choral music. The book includes chapters on Estonian history (Tormis's music helped inspire the national independence movement), the regilaul, and the Estonian choral tradition, followed by the biography and discussion of major works. Also included is an article by a leading Estonian scholar as well as an article by and an interview with Tormis, all of which appear for the first time in English. A works list, CD discography, glossary of names, and CD of sound examples conclude this volume by musicologist and choral conductor Mimi S. Daitz. It will interest scholars of contemporary music, the general music public, and persons concerned with Soviet cultural history.
Mimi S. Daitz:
Active as both a choral conductor and musicologist. She retired from the Music Dept. of The City College/City University of New York to direct a community chorus and to complete her book, Ancient Song Recovered: The Life and Music of Veljo Tormis (Pendragon, 2004). The year it was published her chorus was invited to participate in the Estonian United Song Festival.
In addition to numerous articles about Estonian music and French song, Prof. Daitz recently published, with co-editor Jean-Michel Nectoux, volume I of a complete critical edition of the songs of Gabriel Fauré. Now also retired from her conducting position, she is presently singing with the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York. Her current writing project is a book on the National Committee for Refugee Musicians, created by the composer Mark Brunswick, which helped save some 1,000 European musicians from the Nazis and found them work in the United States as teachers and performers.
Among the most recent papers on Tormis and Estonian music that Prof. Daitz has presented are:
___“Integral vs. Derivative Use of Balto-Finnic Traditional Song in the Choral Compositions of Veljo Tormis,” IAML, Tallinn, 2003.
___”The Singing Revolution, A Documentary Film by James and Maureen Tusty,” The Phenomenon of Singing International Symposium VII, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, 2009.
___”Rethinking ‘arrangement’ and ‘composition’ in the music of Tormis,” “Baltic Musics and Musicologies,” Canterbury Christ Church University, 2011.
__”Texted Music that Transcends Language: A Contradiction in the Music of Veljo Tormis,” International Association of Philosophy and Literature, “Archeologies of the Future: Tracing Memories, Imagining Spaces, “ Tallinn, 2012.