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Lepo Sumera

Lepo Sumera (1950–2000) is one of the most outstanding representatives of his generation, and with six symphonies and other orchestral works, he is considered one of Estonia’s most important orchestral composers. Sumera studied composition at Tallinn Music High School under Veljo Tormis, and then at the Tallinn Conservatoire, first with Heino Eller, and then, after Eller’s death, with Heino Jürisalu. Thereafter, he completed his education in Moscow under Mihhail Ledenjov. Sumera himself was also a well-respected teacher, supervising, among others, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Mari Vihmand, Galina Grigorjeva, Märt-Matis Lill, and many others. Between 1988 and 1992, he served as Estonia’s Minister of Culture, and from 1993 until his death, he was chairman of the Composers’ Union.

In his oeuvre, Sumera’s works include everything from renaissance ensemble and piano works to symphonies, film soundtracks to cantatas, ballets, and multimedia presentations. He was a composer who had many interesting ideas, as well as brightly varied figurative language, and his innovative approach meant that he was the first composer in Estonia to use computers in his compositions. He first used electronic tools in his compositions in the 1980s, with these resources becoming more important over the years (affecting even his acoustic compositions). He was also one of the first composers in Estonia to use live electronic music, since he was charmed as a composer by the opportunity to participate in the performance himself and to contribute to what would happen. He was simultaneously attracted by multimedia.