26.04.–05.05.2024 / Tartu
Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis

Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875–1911) was a Lithuanian composer and painter. Čiurlionis contributed to symbolism and art nouveau, and was representative of the fin de siècle epoch. He has been considered one of the pioneers of abstract art in Europe. During his short life, he composed about 400 pieces of music and created about 300 paintings, as well as many literary works and poems. His works have had a profound influence on modern Lithuanian culture.

He’s father was an organist and the son’s, who was a musical prodigy, first teacher. Afterwards M. K. Čiurlionis studied in the Plungė Palace Orchestra School from 1889 to 1893 and supported by Prince Ogiński’ scholarship Čiurlionis studied piano and composition at Warsaw Institute of Music from 1894 to 1899, and in 1901 M. K. Čiurlionis joined the Leipzig Conservatory, where he was taught composition by Carl Reinecke. After that, he continued his painting studies in Warsaw School of Fine Arts from 1904 to 1906. In 1906, M. K. Čiurlionis wrote to his brother Povilas: “I am going to dedicate all of my previous and future work to Lithuania”. He received the invitation to participate in the First Exhibition of Lithuanian Art in 1907 at Vileišis Palace, Vilnius, where he sent his paintings and also helped organizing it. Soon after this event, the Lithuanian Art Society was founded, and Čiurlionis was one of its 19 founding members. In 1907 M. K. Čiurlionis moved to Vilnius and actively involved himself in the cultural life: he was elected to the board of Lithuanian Art Society, was the choirmaster of choir “Vilniaus kanklės”.

M. K. Čiurlionis is the originator of Lithuanian professional music. The precise number of his musical compositions is not known – a substantial part of his manuscripts did not survive, including those that perished in the fire during the war. The major part of his music are works for piano.