Music written by Estonian composers has found admirers all over the world. Since 1979, the Estonian Composers’ Union has organized the festival Estonian Music Days (EMD), the visiting card of contemporary Estonian music. An abundant amount of new commissions each year has made it the most established festival focusing on Estonian contemporary music.
The artistic directors of the festival are internationally renowned Estonian composers Helena Tulve and Timo Steiner. Composer Märt-Matis Lill is the artistic director of the Tartu programme. Helena Tulve explains the nature of the festival: “The festival’s programme gives an overview of the current state of Estonian music. The entire festival is a surprise. As most pieces have been written especially for the festival, we don’t know what to expect and the best idea is to be open to the unexpected.”
Back in 1979, legendary Estonian composer Eino Tamberg commented on the first festival to journalists:
“In my opinion, the festival serves two objectives. Firstly, we wish to give an overview of Estonian music to our audience and guests. Their participation certainly contributes to distributing our music in case they find some of it interesting. Secondly, when we have listened to our music in so many performances, that it helps us to shape a better overview, what kind of positive sides our oeuvre has and where we have gaps. It is nice that the festival has also included music from previous periods, for example, top works that have been undeservedly and seldomly performed. … At the same time, these works can be considered as comparison material for evaluating contemporary music. Planning the festival so extensively shows that we probably do have something to share in that kind of capacity.”