Symphonic Overture “Kęstutis”

Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, perhaps the most famous Lithuanian artist of all time, dedicated his life to two muses: painting and music. Čiurlionis’ creative legacy includes some 300 paintings and graphic works, as well as more than 300 works for choir, piano, organ, string ensembles and orchestra. His symphonic music output consists of two symphonic poems, In the Forest and The Sea, the symphonic overture Kęstutis, and the cantata De Profundis; only sketches of other symphonic works remain.

The symphonic overture Kęstutis was written in 1901–1902, while the composer was studying at the Leipzig Conservatory. It is believed that Čiurlionis himself did not admire this work, writing in a letter to his best friend and colleague Eugeniusz Morawski: “I have now written an overture of 300 bars, of which only seven are beautiful”. Unfortunately, the symphonic score of the work was lost, and only the piano score survived, which was re- orchestrated by composer Jurgis Juozapaitis in 1995. The overture Kęstutis has features of late Romanticism, is powerfully expressive; the influence of Wagner and Strauss can be heard in the music.

The Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Modestas Pitrėnas, offers this rarely performed score by Čiurlionis.

Under the Maestro’s baton, the LNSO recorded this overture together with the symphonic poems In the Forest and The Sea at the Vilnius Record Studio in 2019, and a year later the recording was released by the Finnish music label Ondine.

PUBLISHED: 2021-12-04