26.04.–05.05.2024 / Tartu
Mart Saar

Mart Saar (1882–1962) was among the first professional Estonian composers. He received his musical education at the St Petersburg Conservatory, where he studied from 1901–1908 in the organ class of Louis Homilius. He graduated with a silver medal and until 1911, he also studied composition at the conservatory. His oeuvre reflected a boundless fantasy in composing smaller works. His early compositions were very innovative, related to the then modern trends of expressionism and impressionism. One can hear such elements in his solo songs and piano pieces, but also in some choral songs. One of the most exquisite examples of his modern style was the piano piece Skizze (1910), which, in its atonal aspirations, somewhat resembles the quests of Arnold Schönberg, his innovative contemporary in Germany, although Saar knew nothing of his existence. Having been born in the midst of woods and marshes, the Estonian composer soon distanced himself from this style and turned to folk songs which became the main source for his oeuvre. Although Mart Saar has also written many piano pieces and solo songs, it was choral songs that became his main creative niche.