Estonian Music Days

Tallinn / Tartu

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Jaan Rääts

In the 1960s, a remarkably anti-Romantic, active and playful style was brought into Estonian music by Jaan Rääts (b. 1932), a composer of neo-classicist orientation. His youthful and rhythmic Concerto for Chamber Orchestra from 1961 became a landmark achievement in Estonian new music.

Rääts studied the piano at Tartu Music School and graduated in 1957 as a composition student of professors Mart Saar and Heino Eller from Tallinn Conservatory. He has worked as a recording engineer at the Estonian Radio, chief editor of music programmes and chief director and music director of the Estonian Television. From 1974 to 1993, he served as chairman of the Estonian Composers’ Union. Rääts has taught composition at the Estonian Academy of Music, among his many students were Raimo Kangro, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Rauno Remme, Tõnu Kõrvits, Tõnis Kaumann and Timo Steiner.

Jaan Rääts is a composer with a fairly constant sound and style. The bulk of his work is made up of instrumental music. From 1957–1993, Rääts completed ten symphonies. He has also written 24 concertos for orchestra and soloist(s) and two concertos for chamber orchestra, symphonic pieces and plenty of chamber music.

Rääts’ rhythm-centred idiom, developed in the 1960s, was exerting an influence on Estonian music as a whole as late as in the end of the 1980s. Although he started as a composer during the era of (re)discovering modernism and avant-garde compositional techniques, his mosaic-like, playful personal style signified the advent of postmodernist thought in Estonian music. (Based on Estonian Music Information Centre)