Born: June 18, 1905; Kallaste, Estonia
Died: November 17, 1982; Stockholm, Sweden
Estonian-born composer Eduard Tubin remained virtually unknown outside of his homeland for most of his life, despite having fled to Western Europe some 40 years before his death in 1982. It was only during the final years of the twentieth century that Western orchestras and soloists began to explore his rather sizeable, rewarding output. Tubin was born in Kallaste in June 1905. Childhood training at the keyboard earned him admission to TartuRead more College of Music at the age of 19, where he studied both organ and composition with professor Heino Heller. Within months of graduating from the College in 1930 Tubin was hired as conductor of the Tartu City Theater, a post he filled with distinction until 1944. During a trip to Budapest during 1938 Tubin had the opportunity to take some informal lessons from Zoltán Kodály, at whose suggestion he began to explore the riches of Estonian folk music. In 1940, Tubin was hired to teach at Tartu College, but his tenure was cut short when he was forced to flee to Sweden in 1944.
The fame Tubin had achieved in his homeland did little for him in his adopted country, and he was forced to prepare music (mostly the German classics) for the Drottningholm Palace Theater in Stockholm for most of his remaining years. Although he became a Swedish citizen in 1967, Tubin had very little contact with Swedish musical society, and it was only with the award of an Atterberg Fellowship in 1977 -- just five years before his death -- that his music began to earn recognition outside of the Soviet Union, where his operas and the ballet Kratt had remained in the musical repertoire.
Tubin, known during his lifetime as a composer for the stage, gained posthumous recognition for his orchestral music. His symphonic output is substantial, comprising ten complete symphonies and an incomplete 11th. Of these, the Fifth Symphony (1947), written shortly after his emigration to Sweden, has been the most frequently performed. This work, like most of Tubin's instrumental compositions, draws heavily on the Estonian folk music tradition, even incorporating an ancient Estonian hymn into the slow movement, while simultaneously adding a Slavic flavor which, however modified by the decades, clearly manifests its debt to the Dvorák tradition. Tubin's knowledge of folk dance tradition (acquired during a period of study at the Museum of Ethnography in Tartu during the Second World War) served him well during the creation of the lighthearted, entertaining Estonian Dance Suite. Read less