“Resounding Sea of Colour. Debussy and Čiurlionis”

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) Three Sketches for Symphony Orchestra “The Sea” 

Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875 – 1911) Symphonic poem “The Sea”

Transcriptions for piano four hands

Duo Zubovas: Sonata Zubovienė and Rokas Zubovas, piano

The program “Resounding Sea of Colours. Debussy and Čiurlionis” unites two symphonic masterpieces from the early twentieth century adapted for one piano four hands.

Debussy and Čiurlionis started composing their majestic marinist opuses in the same year, 1903. Debussy completed The Three Sketches for Symphony Orchestra “La Mer” in 1905. In the same year, the work was performed in Paris, but without much success – the language of the work was too modern for the listenner. In order to make the work accessible to wider audience, the composer also prepared and published an adaptation of the work for one piano four hands in 1905.

Čiurlionis completed his monumental symphonic poem “The Sea” in 1907, but the work was performed only in 1936, twenty-five years after composer’s death. The adaptation of Čiurlionis’ “The Sea” for piano four hands was prepared by the composer’s youngest sister Jadvyga Čiurlionytė around 1925. The adaptation, which until now remained only in manuscript format, is currently being restored and edited for the first public performance.

In 2022, these two monumental seminal early twentieth-century works will be performed for the first time in one program, revealing the kinship between the creative aspirations and ideas of two early twentieth- century geniuses, as well as highlighting the surrounding cultural context.. The program will also present for the first time a version of Čiurlionis’ symphonic poem “The Sea” for piano four hands.

In 2022, Duo Zubovas celebrates the 25th anniversary of their creative career. The Duo’s debut concert took place in Chicago in 1997. The Duo has performed in major American and Canadian cities, Argentina and Uruguay, many European countries (Great Britain, Ireland, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Latvia, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Ukraine), as well as Russia, Belarus, and Iran.

Duo Zubovas is regularly invited to participate in international festivals: France (Berlioz, 2003), Italy (Cita di Castello, 2004), Norway (Norskmusikfestucke, 2001), Slovenia (Ljubljana, 2010), Russia (Bachosluzheniye, 2009), Germany (Usedom, 2011 ), Finland (Rauma, 2013), Belarus (Piano Duo Festival, 2017), Ukraine (Kiev Easter Music Festival, 2018), the Netherlands (Festival Vocallis, 2021), and Lithuania (“Pažaislis”, “Marių klavyrai”,“ Klaipėdos pavasaris”, “Jauna muzika”,“Permainų muzika”,“ Gaida ”, Šiauliai Piano Duo Festival”, etc.). Pianists carry out educational programs in Lithuanian cities, in 2005-2019 they organized the annual international music and ecology festival “Land of the Disobedient” in Neringa.

Zubovas Duo has performed with the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, the Belarusian State Symphony Orchestra, the Kherson Symphony Orchestra, the Kaunas Symphony Orchestra, Šiauliai, Klaipėda, St. Christopher and Kaliningrad Philharmonic chamber orchestras, Vilnius String Quartet, Čiurlionis Quartet, as well as “Aukuras”, “Aidija”, Vilnius University, “Jauna muzika”, and “Dainava” (Chicago) choirs. The Duo performed world premieres of works written for it by more than 10 different composers.

For more information: Impetus musicus


Dulwich Picture Gallery Announces M.K. Čiurlionis: Between Worlds Exhibition

The exhibition is set to go on display at the gallery from the 21st September.

M.K. Čiurlionis, Angels (Paradise), 1909. Tempera on paper, 47 x 61.8 cm. Courtesy M.K. Čiurlionis Museum of Art, Kaunas.

The Dulwich Picture Gallery has announced details of its upcoming Autumn exhibition, which will be the first UK exhibition of work by the Lithuanian artist and celebrated composer  M.K. Čiurlionis. 

This new display will bring together over 100 pieces by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911), widely credited as Lithuania’s greatest artist. The exhibition will feature paintings created throughout his short but prolific career, with most travelling to the UK for the first time.

On display in chronological order, M.K. Čiurlionis: Between Worlds will explore how he used tructure and colour to create works that sit between mythology and reality. The exhibition will highlight the breadth of Čiurlionis’ interests, with a focus on humankind’s relationship to the universe, and examine the themes and motifs that aligned his art to European Symbolism. This will be seen through works such as Creation of the World (1905/1906), The Zodiac (1906/1907) and Rex (1909). 

This exhibition will also oreground Čiurlionis’ cycles: the groupings of works he created where scenes and narrative evolve over time. Highlights will include Creation of the World (1905/1906), a series of 13 paintings in which Čiurlionis manifests his own visions of the creation story, and Winter (1907), a cycle of eight paintings, which illustrates his move towards abstraction.

But it will also highlight his musical compositions through an immersive aural experience that will introduce visitors to Čiurlionis’ first art form, to help develop understanding of his creative world. 

The exhibition is curated by Kathleen Soriano, independent curator and broadcaster. Soriano said: “In 1866, the writer Emile Zola defined a work of art as ‘a corner of creation seen through a temperament’, and via Čiurlionis’ aesthetic and sensitive yet powerful work, we see glimpses of the man whose intense and passionate creativity was cruelly cut short at the age of 35. In this exhibition Čiurlionis invites us all to travel with him between worlds – from the celestial to the earthly, the physical to the spiritual, from music to painting, the fantastical to the real, and from the figurative to the abstract.

M.K. Čiurlionis: Between Worlds will be on display at the Dulwich Picture Gallery from the 21st September until the 19th March 2023.

Source: Love London Love Culture


Concert recording. Dialogues with Čiurlionis. Dmitry Mayboroda (piano)

“Dialogues with Čiurlionis”
Dmitry Mayboroda – piano (Russia-Germany)

2021 November 29
National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

Organizer – M. K. Čiurlionis House in Vilnius
Partner – National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
The project was financed by the Lithuanian Council of Culture

A unique, romantic concert program “Dialogues with Čiurlionis” performed by Dmitry Mayboroda (Germany, Russia), one of the best pianists of the young generation. The program evokes a creative dialogue between three composers and pianists of the early twentieth century – Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Nikolai Medtner. It consisted preludes and variations by M. K. Čiurlionis framed by Medtner’s poetic and nostalgic Sonata “Reminiscenza”, op. 38 Nr. 1, composed in 1918, and the thunderous Second piano Sonata in B minor op. 36, by Rachmaninov, composed in 1913 and revised in 1931.

Dmitry Mayboroda introduced the program by saying: “Thinking about this program, I really wanted to show the difference between Čiurlionis’ music genres, as well as to compare very frequently performed works like Nocturne op. 6, and very rarely performed variations of ‘Sefaa Esec’.”

This concert is a part of M. K. Čiurlionis House project “Čiurlionis Dialogues”. Which the main aim is to represent Čiurlionis legacy and its diversity through the cultural contexts of others by showing Lithuanian culture lovers’ interpretations of Čiurlionis’ works born in other countries of the world and played by well known, international recognition gained performers.

Playlist – Here.

M. K. Čiurlionis House info.


Kerem and Zubovas premiere Čiurlionis’ ‘Without Saying Goodbye’

VILNIUS, December 8th — This Wednesday, Estonian composer and violinist Mihkel Kerem and Lithuanian pianist Rokas Zubovas organised an important concert at the Vilnius Town Hall in occasion of the Vilnius 700 project, a long-term project to celebrate the 700th anniversary of Vilnius which will take place in 2023. The concert brought together around 150 people at Vilniaus Rotušė.

After playing pieces from well-known composers from the 19th and 20th century, such as Béla Bartók, Heino Eller, Leoš Janáček and Jean Sibelius, the two musicians played the composition ‘Without Saying Goodbye’ („Neatsisveikinęs“ in Lithuanian) that Mihkel Kerem, who has already composed over 160 pieces, created over lost musical sketches of the famed Lithuanian composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis who died in 1911.

The musician and painter M.K. Čiurlionis has been an important symbol of Lithuanian music and art, having participated in organising the first Exhibition of Lithuanian Art of 1907, among other events. He was also one of the 19 founders of the Lithuanian Art Society. Nowadays, Čiurlionis is regarded as a national artist and is a symbolic figure of Lithuanian art.

In a small side room of Vilnius Town Hall (Vilniaus Rotušė), Kerem and Zubovas get ready for their concert and discuss the event’s meaning.

Why was Vilniaus Rotušė chosen?

Indeed, the Town Hall was first mentioned in 1432; since then, it was rebuilt many times. The current building dates back to 1799. Today, it’s a representative monument of Lithuania, which is often visited by foreign officials, such as George W. Bush or Queen Elizabeth II.

“We’re back in this center where so much of history of Vilnius and Lithuania has happened and keeps happening,” added Kerem.

An exceptional concert

“I think this is quite a special concert because we also play other nationalist composers.  All of them were trying to create their own unique musical language based on very specific national idioms, nature and dances. The whole program is, in a way, a map of Europe in the early 20thcentury,” remarked Rokas Zubovas.

The two musicians played various music from Hungary, Estonia, Czech Republic and Finland, covering most of Eastern Europe from the North to the South.

“Not only in their own language, with Czech music of course there was a huge musical culture before. But let’s look at Lithuania, Estonia or Finland as well; we didn’t have any musical culture — it was a national awakening,” continued Mihkel Kerem.

After so many years, the legacy persists

“It’s exceptional in a sense that still, after more than 110 years after Čiurlionis died, there is still new material that surfaces and new music compositions that are written on-top of it,” pondered Zubovas, the great-grandson of M.K. Čiurlionis. The pianist is very active in making a name for his great-grandfather.

Čiurlionis died on the 10th of April 1911 of pneumonia, at the age of 35 years old.

“About 15 years ago, a manuscript of Čiurlionis’ “Sonata for violin” was uncovered among papers of his younger sister Jadvyga Čiurlionytė. These sketches of Čiurlionis’ work were just sitting, waiting for someone to touch them. I then suggested to Mihkel to look at them because he was both a violinist and composer. So, I thought that maybe these sketches should be looked at by a composer who’s also a violinist,” explained Zubovas.

‘Without Saying Goodbye’: a complicated piece to rebuild

“The sketches are very sparse and clearly were being written as a piece. It feels like he had written a lot of it and that quite a large chunk of it was missing… such as the beginning. There is no kind of basic material to really complete the piece, and I had to do something else with it, to mature this wonderful music, so it could come out somehow,” the Estonian composer described ‘Without Saying Goodbye’.

Since 2012, this project was on the back of Mihkel Kerem’s mind, having met and played with Rokas Zubovas at a concert in Estonia.

“In this work that I created, I made it into like a little ‘pedestal’ to bring these bits of genius out from the page. Because to play them as they are there really feels like you’re playing the composer’s rough thoughts and can’t present it like this. Some of it is great, some of it is really complete and… a lot of it is just two notes, four chords, something messed up, something missing. But I used all of it, and so I wrote kind of my own piece around it as like a cushion to support his work,” clarified Mihkel Kerem.

A piece with historical value

“Here we’re talking about something that was written in the late 19th century: approximately around 1897-1898, nobody knows exactly, because small sketches are all we have. Which historically would make it the very first Lithuanian chamber-sonata,” explained the Lithuanian pianist.

Historically, the first Lithuanian chamber-sonata, a musical composition usually comprised of four movements and is commonly played at secular events, was composed by Juozas Gruodis with his ‘Sonata for violin and piano in D minor’ written in 1922. If completed 25 years earlier, this piece made by Čiurlionis, would have been the first.

“I suppose that makes Čiurlionis very special, a piece that- if it would have been completed -would have been the first, is premiered 125 years later,” concluded Kerem.

‘Without Saying Goodbye’ — living beyond the grave as an artist

“I imagine this as a link between his youth because the piece was written when he was very young. But also it is the very end of his life, because it feels that there are bits that you just remember from his earlier life; it’s still a very tragic way he died, it’s a problematic thing isn’t it? So it represents his life that was cut short and also that he couldn’t say ‘goodbye’ or even ‘hello’ to his little daughter that he never saw,” said Kerem justifying the name of the piece.

Unfortunately, Čiurlionis never saw his daughter Danutė, who was born on June 12th1910. At the time, he was held at the “Czerwony Dwór” (Red Manor) hospital near Warsaw, where he caught a cold and died shortly after of pneumonia, on the April 10th 1911.

“People or composers and artists like Čiurlionis really don’t plan to die, and leave quite a lot to finish for the future generations. So, it is as if they’re never saying ‘goodbye’. You’re still finding things as if he just left the room and came back. His musical list of compositions becomes fuller and fuller even though he’s been dead for more than a hundred years,” wrapped up Rokas Zubovas.

—for The Lithuania Tribune by Lukas BARBIER (



On Wednesday 8 December, 2021, at 6 p.m. composer and violinist Mihkel Kerem (Estonia), together with pianist Rokas Zubovas, will present his new work, “Without Saying Goodbye”, based on sketches from Čiurlionis’ “Sonata for Violin and Piano”, at Vilnius Town Hall. In the last concert of the 2021 in M. K. Čiurlionis House project “Čiurlionis Dialogues”, alongside this new work, the audience will also hear works by Čiurlionis’ contemporaries Bela Bartók, Hein Eller, Leoš Janáček and Jan Sibelius. Critic Robert Maxham has written in Fanfare as follows: “Anyone who believes that the traditional tonality can only express timeworn clichés should listen to the music of Kerem.”

Composer and violinist Mihkel Kerem (Estonia)

Mihkel Kerem embodies the tradition of renowned violinists who are not only virtuoso soloists, but also concertmasters of renowned orchestras, versatile chamber music performers, and prominent composers. The Estonian-born violinist focuses on the music of Estonia and the Baltic States, often incorporating works by composers from these countries into his repertoire. Currently Assistant Concertmaster of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (UK) and the Brandenburg Symphony (UK), Mihkel Kerem completed his studies at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and the Royal College of Music in London.

Kerem’s oeuvre currently comprises around 160 works, including 7 symphonies, numerous concertos, orchestral works, 10 string quartets, a string sextet, a string octet, 3 sonatas for violin and piano, 2 wind quintets, sonatas for alto and piano, cello and piano, and a solo piano. Kerem’s works have been performed in the USA, Russia, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and many other European countries. Kerem has been Composer-in-Residence at the renowned Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Germany and the Aurora Chamber Music Festival in Sweden. His works have been performed by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra with Neeme Järvi, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Oulu Sinfonia, Joensuu City Orchestra, Camerata Nordica and Chilingirian String Quartet.

In 2012 Toccata Classics released a CD of Kerem’s 4 violin sonatas. The second CD of Symphony No. 3 for Lamento viola and strings and string sextet was issued in 2013.

Pianist Rokas Zubovas

Pianist Rokas Zubovas is best known to the audience for his interpretations of Čiurlionis. He has recorded all of the composer’s piano works, and even played his famous ancestor in the feature film “Letters to Sofija”. The pianist has also organised the international chamber music and ecology festival “The Land of the Disobedient” for fifteen years, presenting from 7 to 9 thematic chamber music programmes each year.


M. K. Čiurlionis House 


Vilnius Town Hall

Estonian Embassy in Lithuania


Lithuanian Council for Culture

The concert is part of the program.

The concert is free of charge. Only with ‘opportunity passport’ and registration.


Live recording. Poem for Čiurlionis and Scriabin. PETER LAUL (piano)

In September, M. K. Čiurlionis’ House in Vilnius, together with partners “Tytuvėnai Festival” and the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society invited to celebrate M. K. Čiurlionis birthday with the world-renowned pianist Peter Laul (Estonia, Russia). On this special occasion, the pianist performed the program “Poem for Čiurlionis and Scriabin”, in which he juxtaposes two peer innovators active at end of the 19th c. – beginning of the 20th c., the creators who transcended their era. We are delighted that the pianist includes the works of Čiurlionis in his repertoire, thus contributing to the promulgation of Lithuanian composers’ music in the world.

Today, M. K. Čiurlionis’ House invites you to remember or re-hear the recording of this concert on the M. K. Čiurlionis House YouTube channel.


Live recording from Lithuanian National Philharmonic Concert Hall, Vilnius

Organizer: Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society; PI “Tytuvėnų festival”; M.K. Čiurlionis House in Vilnius

Sponsors: Lithuanian Council for Culture, Vilnius City municipality

This concert is a part of M. K. Čiurlionis House project “Čiurlionis Dialogues”, the main goal of which is to create a tradition to celebrate the birthday of the great Lithuanian genius at the National Philharmonic, listening to interpretations of M. K. Čiurlionis’ works performed by international music stars.

Born into a family of musicians, Laul is a graduate of the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. Pianist is a winner of various international competitions. Laul was applaudedby audiences in Paris (Auditorium du Louvre, Salle Gaveau, Théâtre de la Ville, Théâtre du Châtelet, Musée d’Orsay)London (Wigmore Hall), New York (Lincoln Center andSteinway-Hall), St. Petersburg (Philharmonic hall andMariinsky Theatre), Moscow (Tchaikovsky Hall,Conservatory Hall), Amsterdam (Concertgebouw), Utrecht (Vredenburg), Bremen (Die Glocke), Montpellier (Corum), Milan (G. Verdi Conservatory), Tokyo (Opera City Hall), the Luxembourg (Philharmonic hall), Brussels (the Théâtre royal de la monnaie) and other venues.


ROKAS ZUBOVAS & PHIL VON: New album “Eiti ramyben” presentation concert

Rokas & Phil @ EitiRamybėn by Mindaugas Jokubauskas

It is not easy to maintain dignity and spiritual peace in these difficult times of universal uncertainty. Well-educated and sensitive artist Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis found comfort and support in Lithuanian folk music during difficult moments in his life.

In the melodies and consonances polished over the centuries, the classic felt a versatility that is perfect for people of modern times as well. Not only did he enthusiastically create new, very modern music based on folk music at the time, but he also commissioned future artists to continue this work:

This assignment is consistently carried out by one of the world’s most famous music experts and performers of M.K. Čiurlionis, his great-grandson, pianist Rokas Zubovas. He has recorded and released numerous albums with music by M.K. Čiurlionis, including a monumental anthology of six CDs with the book “M.K. Čiurlionis. Pieces for piano”. As a soloist, a member of various chamber ensembles and the piano duo “Duo Zubovas”, the pianist has successfully performed in many countries in Europe, North and South America.

In 2018, Rokas Zubovas got acquainted with the French electronic and theater music creator and actor Phil Von, who has been living in Vilnius for several years.

Phil Von’s previous music, especially that of his band Von Magnet, has a strong influence on flamenco and other styles of folk music, which is why critics have called it electro-flamenco. While living in Vilnius, Phil Von created and often performs live a program of electronic interpretations of Lithuanian folk music and recordings of Lithuanian neo-folk performers. In 2019, he produced the solo album of the composer Algirdas Klova “The Flow of Versmė”.

The duo soon introduced a program in which M.K. Pieces for piano based on Čiurlionis’ Lithuanian folk songs sound in a freer, modern interpretation by Rokas Zubovas. During the concert, Phil Von transforms the sound of the piano with various electronic devices and complements it with the natural sounds of nature and electronic instruments.

Placed in a digital futuristic medium, the electronically transmuted piano chords saturated with folk music sound like a space orchestra. They seem to be looking for ways to find a way to spiritual balance in an extremely intense, aggressive everyday life, which is why the authors of the project called it “Go to Peace”.

Rokas Zubovas & Phil Von will be performing at the Church of St. Catherine, Vilnius on November 8th at 7 P.M. Ticket seller Paysera Tickets

PRE-ORDER Limited Edition 12″ Vinyl + Digital Album “Eiti ramyben” (“Go to Peace”) by Rokas Zubovas & Phil Von HERE

Impetus musicus info.


Composer Ciurlionis showed how Lithuania sounds

Ciurlionis, you say? For the uninitiated in Lithuanian culture: Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis was the greatest composer the country produced, he was also one of the most important visual artists and a more than creditable writer. When Ciurlionis died in 1911, he left behind some 400 pieces of music and 300 paintings – and he was only thirty-five. The Limburg festival Vocallis, which took place on Friday, putted a spotlight on multi-talented Ciurlionis in its opening weekend.

Pianist Rokas Zubovas (1966) knows a handy formula for the specific gravity of Ciurlionis: “Compare it with Norway: suppose you put painter Edvard Munch and composer Edvard Grieg together in one person, then you have a nice idea.” On Friday, Zubovas and his wife, pianist Sonata Deveikyté-Zuboviené, played a ‘narrative concert’ in which Ciurlionis’ music, art and literature came together.

Pianist becomes actor

The life of Zubovas is quite intertwined with that of Ciurlionis. To begin with, he is a great-grandson of the composer-artist. In 1986 he won joint first prize in the Ciurlionis Piano Competition, which he retrospectively calls “the most important event in my life.” As a pianist, Zubovas is one of the foremost performers and advocates of his ancestor, and when he was involved as a musical advisor in the biographical film Letters to Sofija (2013) to his own surprise, he was asked to play the lead role. “I’m not an actor, but I can do things that actors can’t,” says Zubovas. The film was screened in Maastricht on Saturday afternoon.

In retrospect it is easy to say that Zubovas was born to serve as an apostle of Ciurlionis. But it wasn’t like that, he says: „Ciurlionis was not in my family big deal. I am very grateful to them for that. I wasn’t involved with him until I had to play his music at the conservatory – I met him first as a colleague, later as a family. And only during the filming did I delve into his personality. But it is strange if you have been so intensively involved with someone for over thirty years. I feel like I’ve become more and more like him.”

Synesthetic method

On Friday evening, Zubovas and his wife played a quatre-mains version of Ciurlionis’ most famous work, the symphonic poem Mice (‘In the forest’): „That is the symphonic representation of Lithuania, the absolute number 1 in the canon. We know from his letters that Ciurlionis himself played it on the piano for his friends,” explains Zubovas. After that there is “a dialogue between music and literature”, in which paintings are also shown. Zubovas plays piano solo pieces and Sonata reads. In this way visitors can form an image of Ciurlionis’ synaesthetic working method: he saw colors with sounds and vice versa. “He had an antenna for all that was new, and at the same time he was a romantic at heart.”

In the concert they follow Ciurlionis’ style development chronologically. In the beginning, around 1900, he focused on the scenic beauty of Lithuania. His interest then shifted to what Zubovas calls “the fairy tale.” „We end with the piano variations The sea from 1908, which are already very abstract. We show the painting cycle Sonata of the Zee from the same time and there is a literary fragment about the sea.”

The man who would become a national hero did not live to see Lithuania’s independence in 1918. Zubovas: “Ciurlionis led an intense life, smoked a lot, hardly ate and only drank very sweet tea. That lifestyle wrecked his body and in 1910 he collapsed. He spent the last year and a half of his life in a sanatorium, where he died of pneumonia.”

Festival Vocallis, 22/10 to 7/11, at various locations in South Limburg. Inl:

NRC Culture Guide



New colours for Čiurlionis’ music: flute joins piano in the new arrangements

Music Information Centre Lithuania has published Lithuania’s greatest composer and painter of all time Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis works’ arrangements for flute and piano Lakštingala (The Nightingale). The arrangements were made and proposed to be published by the members of the ensemble Duo Flupia – flutist Vilmantė Kaziulytė and pianist Kristina Ivanauskaite-Čiurilienė.

When the pianist Kristina Ivanauskaitė-Čiurilienė and the flutist Vilmantė Kaziulytė launched a chamber ensemble Duo FluPia, a natural desire to approach the music of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis born very naturally, as both Kristina and Vilmantė had been familiar with the composer’s music since childhood. 

The initial inspiration arrived in 2015 when Kristina’s ear caught the song of a nightingale through an open window during a live performance of one of Čiurlionis’ piano miniatures titled, aptly, The Nightingale. The dialogue between the piano and the real bird eventually prompted the arrangement of a piece for flute and piano. Later, the two musicians arranged seven other piano compositions by Čiurlionis.

The arrangements are originally for flute and piano, but the set may also be performed by violin and piano. It is intended for anyone, from students to professional musicians, who want to include Čiurlionis’ music into their repertoire. 

The arrangements are based on M. K. Čiurlionis’ early pieces. Such as Nocturne in F-sharp minor (VL 178) which include a prevailing pastoral and contemplative mood, subtle shades of harmonic changes. Also, the pieces written in the summer of 1901 in Druskininkai (VL 186, VL 187) which bear many features of Lithuanian folk songs. The remaining arrangements are based on works created after studies at the Leipzig conservatory (VL 239, VL 248, VL 268, VL 270, VL 294). The predominant chromatic harmonic language and intense polyphonic factures reveal a considerably more concentrated set of the composer’s emotions.

While setting up the eight miniatures, Kristina and Vilmantė scrutinised the compilations of the composer’s piano compositions edited by Jadvyga Čiurlionytė, Vytautas Landsbergis and Darius Kučinskas. Broadly speaking, the arrangements by Duo FluPia are based on these publications, yet they feature a number of individual interpretational nuances. Compared to the original pieces, the sound has become more ornate; the new arrangements reveal timbral dialogues between piano and flute, while the aforementioned The Nightingale now features a canon.

The activities and publications of the Music Information Center Lithuania are financed by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.

Translated from the Lithuanian by Darius Krasauskas, edited by Howard Jarvis
Information prepared by the Music Information Centre Lithuania
Photos by Tomas Terekas

New Sheet Music of Čiurlionis Piano Works – Out Now

In collaboration with the musicologist Vytautas Landsbergis and the pianist Rokas Zubovas, who worked as editors, the Music Information Centre Lithuania has released two sheet music compilations of piano works by Lithuania’s greatest composer and painter of all time, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis.

A towering figure in the history of Lithuanian music, Čiurlionis (1875–1911) was an artist who embodied the aspirations of national resurgence and was able to present this within the novel context of European art at the turn of the 20th century. More than anything, he is famous as an original painter whose visionary works often bear musical titles, such as Prelude, Fugue, and Sonata. Later he became known as Lithuania’s first modernist composer. His sets of piano miniatures, written between 1905 and 1909, are examples of late Romanticism adorned with considerable expression. To compose them, he employed motifs of folk music and certain principles of constructivism.

“For Čiurlionis, the piano was the main tool of self-expression in music,” said Rokas Zubovas, the composer’s great-grandson and a passionate promoter of his music. “His piano works might be seen as his creative laboratory, the birthplace of his most daring musical visions that often transcend the boundaries of a single artform. For Čiurlionis, the piano was the means of a physical link to music, an area to pursue improvisation and a search for artistic solutions.”

Editing and publishing piano music by Čiurlionis is, however, by no means an easy task, as he left many of his pieces unfinished, in the form of sketches. An editor, then, has to answer tough questions: should the music be left as it appears in the manuscripts or should the editor attempt to reconstruct the composer’s ideas by speculating on and interpreting the compositional traditions of the day. In other words, the editor faces the dilemma of submitting – in the subtlest form possible – a plausible interpretation of a piece, while not becoming its new author.

The pianist Rokas Zubovas has put together and edited a quite big compilation – almost 100 pages – titled Kūrinių fortepijonui rinktinė (Selected Works for Piano), which contains all of the pieces chosen for the participants of the International Čiurlionis Piano Competition. The volume includes some of the composer’s early and late works (Fugue in B-minorSefaa Esec VariationsBesacas Variations, etc.). It took two years for Zubovas to prepare the publication.

“My aim was to preserve, whenever possible, the authentic notation,” Zubovas said. “Some of the pieces published here had been prepared for performance by Čiurlionis himself. In many instances, his original editorial notes might help pianists understand what kind of interpretation Čiurlionis had in mind.”

In solving this editing puzzle, the musicologist, politician, historian and author Vytautas Landsbergis has offered his vision by adding dynamic signs to Čiurlionis’ piano scores and enriching their facture. Landsbergis, whose many books explore Čiurlionis, was the editor of Mažoji sonata. Mūsų dainelės (The Little Sonata. Our Dear Songs).

The first part of the publication of Mažoji sonata (The Little Sonata) is a compilation that includes four piano works (VL 269-271a), which appear in the form of a sonata and which Landsbergis has played on numerous occasions in Lithuania and beyond. “I have a vision of The Little Sonata becoming part of the repertoire of pianists as a single piece. Moreover, it could be suitable for the International Čiurlionis Piano and Organ Competition,” Landsbergis said.

The second part of the publication, Mūsų dainelės (Our Dear Songs), offers arrangements and small variations of the twelve Lithuanian folk songs expanded, enriched and sometimes rearranged by Landsbergis. “I wanted to turn a song into a larger piece suitable for performance,” he explained. “This is why I have expanded them. These are the versions I have played myself.” One variation, Lietuviška lopšinė (Lithuanian Lullaby), has never been published before. Many years ago, Čiurlionis’ sister, Jadvyga Čiurlionytė, wrote it down from memory.

The activities and releases of the Music Information Center Lithuania are financed by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.

Selected Works for Piano (Kūrinių fortepijonui rinktinė) and Little Sonata. Our Dear Songs (Mažoji sonata. Mūsų dainelės) by Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis are available for purchase at our online shop

Translated from the Lithuanian by Darius Krasauskas, edited by Howard Jarvis
Information prepared by the Music Information Centre Lithuania

Sistema ir dizainas: Jonas Lekevičius