MikolajusKonstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911)
PianoWorks Vol. 1
Adistinguished figure in thearts in Lithuania, Mikolajus Konstantinas Čiurlionis was born on 22nd September 1875 in the small southernLithuanian town of Varena. Two years later hisfamily moved to Druskininkai, where he spent his childhood and adolescence. Afew years later another artist, the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, to be stronglyinfluenced by Čiurlionis, was born in the same city. The latter studied pianoand composition at the Warsaw Music Institute, followed by a period of tuitionin composition at the Leipzig Conservatory. On his return to Warsaw in 1902 he enteredfirst the Warsaw School of Drawing, moving, on its opening in 1904, to theWarsaw School of Fine Arts. There followed exhibitions of his paintings in Warsaw, Vilnius and St. Petersburg. At the same time hecontinued his parallel career in music, directing a Lithuanian choir in Warsaw and a choir in Vilnius, where he settled in1907. He was the founder and director of the Union of Lithuanian Painters andinternational recognition of his work as a painter was assured by hismembership of the Russian Mir Iskusstva, World of Art Society in St. Petersburg. His manifoldactivities were brought to an end by his untimely death in 1911 at the age of35.
Thework of Čiurlionis was based on the view that all arts stem essentially fromthe same source, however different they may seem. Several of his paintings werebased on musical structures, classified as cycles of fugues, sonatas, and soon. A poem by Čiurlionis has the form of a sonata, while much of his music ispictorial. His compositions include two symphonic poems, In the Forest and TheSea, a string quartet and a variety of pieces for piano or organ and choralworks. His piano pieces are mostly short and lead from the romanticism of the19th century to a more modern idiom, influenced by expressionism, serialism orneo-classicism, all of which may be found.
Thefirst collection of piano pieces by Čiurlionis includes earlier compositions,representing a more romantic approach. These were written between 1898 and 1902and give a clear indication of his development as a composer. The influence ofthe Warsaw Conservatory is apparent in the Sonata, VL 155, and of Leipzig in the Chansonette, Dainele,VL 199. There is also a constant influence from Lithuania itself, especially in the numerouspieces written in Druskininkai during the happy summer of 1901, when Čiurlioniswas moved to daily composition by the natural beauty of the region and bytraditions of Lithuanian folk-music.
MûzaRubackyté established her reputation as an infant prodigy in her native Lithuania, making her début as apianist at the age of seven. After study at home, she moved in 1976 to the famousTchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow for further study, winning first prize there andsubsequently named laureate in the international piano competitions of Vilnius, Tallinn, the All UnionCompetition of St. Petersburg and the Budapest Liszt-Bartók Competition. Shewas prevented from performing abroad until 1989, when she was able to move to Paris, winning first prizethere in 1990 in the International Grands Maîtres Français Competition. Sincethen she has continued her career as a performer and teacher, at home andabroad, and as a member of the jury in international piano competitions.