International Society of Artur Kapp International Society of Artur Kapp International Society of Artur Kapp International Society of Artur Kapp
Artur Kapp  
Artur Kapp

ARTUR KAPP (1878-1952) is one of the conspicuous persons in Estonian music history; he and Rudolf Tobias (1873-1918) are the founders of Estonian symphonic music. One of his first symphonic compositions is overture “Don Carlos” in 1899 (Fr. Schiller’s drama). His music principles he acquired at father’s home and they based on German classical music. At Peterburg’s Conservatory his creation was influenced by Russian music. So influenced two different trends on the individual powerful expression-mode of Artur Kapp. His main expression-mode was counterpoint and polyphonic elaboration. His favourite composer was J. S. Bach, Artur Kapp valued and liked his work very much, and this sympathy can be noticed in Artur Kapp’s music. As the wonderful organist and improviser Artur Kapp wrote many important pieces of organ music- they belong to the outstanding achievements of Estonian classical music. At Conservatory of Peterburg he majored in organ and became the famous organist- virtuoso, who often performed with different organ concerts and was well known as a splendid improviser. In symphonic music his examples were L. v. Beethoven and P. Tsaikovski; they influenced his treatment of orchestra and musical figurativeness. For a long time he worked as a conductor and contacted many compositions of those composers who had essential matter in his creative biography.
Artur Kapp wasn’t only composer, organist and conductor - he was also an excellent teacher. He educated many Estonian famous composers like R. Päts, E. Aav, E. Võrk, E. Kapp, G. Ernesaks, J. Hiob and V. Reimann. H. Eller at the Higher Music School of Tartu was more interested in new currents, that effect appeared in his creation and in works of his students. The pedagogical job of Artur

Kapp at the Conservatory in Tallinn resulted from classical and religious traditions. So formed Artur Kapp to famous person who had great influence on development of Estonian music culture in the beginning of this century.
Artur Kapp was born on the 28 of February 1878 in Suure-Jaani in the family of sexton. He had many brothers and sisters. His father Joosep Kapp (1833-1894) got musical education in Zimse’s seminar in Valga, attention to musical education of young Artur. Working in Suure-Jaani as a sexton Joosep Kapp was well-known with his national enlightening activity. In fact of the musical atmosphere at home, the child was early interested in music and when he was 7 years old, he began his studying under fathers supervise. Besides playing piano his father teaches him playing organ, that was later his favourite instrument. As young boy he often stayed in church with father and sometimes replaced him by religious rites. He was rapt from music evenings of song company “Ilmatar” in Suure-Jaani, founded from his father. In these evenings he also took part the mixed choir “Ilmatar”. Once in that concert was performed “Halleluuja” from Händel’s oratorio “Messias” and young Artur played the organ parting. In that time he was 11 years old and already performed as a soloist. Very important event in his life was organ concert introduced by Miina Härma in Suure-Jaani church in August 1891. If Miina Härma heard Artur’s playing, she suggested the father to send his boy to the Conservatory of Peterburg. In this year they started his studies in Peterburg and lived at Artur’s uncle’s place (Feliks Martens). The boy couldn’t speak in Russian, but learned quickly and had good advances. By entrance examination to the Conservatory of Peterburg he had to play one choral prelude from J.S.Bach and five-voice “Fantaasia” c-moll (Fantasy c-moll). If Louis Homilius asked him to improvise something, the father doubted if Artur could. When Artur had finished, professor Homilius said to the father: ”Dear colleague you don’t know what your son can.”
Studies at the Conservatory of Peterburg were successful, he also hadn’t any economical problems and he also lived at his relative place in Peterburg. Artur Kapp was a talented student and soon he got the grant. At first he studied in the organ class of L.Homilius, but later he also studied in the piano class of professor Tiron. Last school year he studied piano by Professor F. Cerny, who paid attention on classical music. Music theory he studied by Professor A. Ljadov and harmony and counterpoint by Professor Bernhardt. Here he first familiarised with Rudolf Tobias, who was 5 years older than him. Tobias started his studying there 1893 and majored in composition and organ. Artur Kapp followed Tobias´ suit and began with composing; in 1896 was completed his first grandiose work - “Orelisonaat f-moll” (Sonata f-minor key). Although it isn’t enough personality in the music, it distinguishes because of his wonderful technical accomplishment.
In 1897 before the last course Artur Kapp performed this music on the exam, on consequence of that N. Rimski-Korsakov propositioned Artur Kapp to study by himself special composition. In 1898 Artur Kapp finished his organ studying at the conservatory and gave many concerts in Peterburg, Moskva and Tartu. He started his studying in composition class in the same year when Tobias finished. In spite of that they often met because Tobias worked as choir leader and organist by congregation of Jaani in Peterburg. Loving music, especially organ music connected them and they both were very talented improvisers. Many music and creative problems were discussed together. With his music erudition and artistic believes had Tobias great influence on Artur Kapp. Exactly at the same time Artur Kapp wrote “I Viiulisonaat” (The first Violin sonata), some solo songs and his first symphonic composition – overture “Don Carlos”. This overture got ready in 1899 as an exam work and received later attention not only in Kapp’s creation, but also in all Estonian music. Together with Tobias` overture “Julius Caesar” belong they to golden fund of Estonian music because of outstanding technical realization and bright musical material.
As final work of conservatory Artur Kapp wrote in 1901 cantata “Paradiis ja Peri” (Paradise and Peri), but unfortunately it has got lost. After graduation he often performed in different cities of Russia and gave many concerts, became there famous as a wonderful organist and improviser.
In 1903 the headmaster of conservatory in Moscow and the chairman of Music Company of Russia V. Safonov propounded to Artur Kapp to begin working as a principal of Music School in Astrakhan and in 1904 he started. Driving with steam-ship on river Volga at the same year he familiarized and in autumn 1904 married to German Marie Lichtenwald. Artur Kapp`s mother also was a German. In the family there were three children: son Konstantin (1906), Eugen (1908) and daughter Elisabet. In Astrakhan Artur Kapp had besides practical activity in music school to conduct symphonic music and he also organized regular concerts. He often performed in Astrakhan and in other cities. He hadn’t enough time for composition. Still he wrote in 1905 one of his authoritative compositions “Viimne piht” (The Last Confess) for organ and violin, very attractive because of religious feelings. Later Artur Kapp used this music in his oratorio “Hiiob”. Living in Astrakhan Artur Kapp didn´t rupture connections with homeland, he visited it repetitively. So he conducted the symphonic concert during the music days of Tartu in 1909. Next summer he was invited to contact symphonic concerts, devoted to the VII song festival of Tallinn.
One of the best works of those years was cantata “Päikesele” (To Sun); it was realized in 1913 to the inauguration festivities of theatre “Estonia”.
After seize power of communists his life became very complicated in Astrakhan. Because of red terror and executions in masses Kapp lost many friends and acquaintances. It was hunger and chaos everywhere. Besides the family disagreements deepened - the wife with elder son Konstantin left, but younger son Eugen and daughter Elisabet stayed with father. In these circumstances Kapp had to do some reorganizations in his music school.
Artur Kapp reminded circumstances: ”The transition of music school to commissariat of communistic education took place. I was left a chairman of music school and nominated emissary. It was organized by “Rabis”- “Rabotniki Isskustva” (Workers of art). To the organization belonged actors, musicians, dancers, employees of theatre, even acrobats and clowns. The leading of music department was “trusted” to me I have to conduct symphonic concerts and organize evening of chamber music. I have to explain to people content of performed music work. Also I have to conduct orchestra on the meeting. Each person got a half pound of sausages as a fee. Money became unvaluable; nothing was to buy; from Co-operative society we got something on the basis of card. To not spend the last pair of boots, I walked in shoes made of bass. My little 8-years old daughter was housewife at home. Our bred ration was daily three- quarter of pound for daughter and one pound for me as for leading person.
At the time of Bolsheviks (2,5 years) I lost weight 2,5 KGs. They thought me a real red because I organized concerts in church.
Some people even asked me to bring dancers into the church. I evaded: will we later see! Big crowd visited the church, they looked for peace of mind after the attack of communists. The citizens of Astrakhan have to stand a lot of. The sad life around influenced me to write symphonic poem “Hauad” (The Graves). At that time got ready his “Keelpillide kvintett” cis-moll (Quintet of String Instruments) - very remarkable work because of his intensive evolution and thronging.
After premiere in 1918 wrote one critic: “This composition is full of emotions. There are gloomy desperation, then sighs of relief, total hopelessness again.” Certainly it was the exponent of the age problems. In the period Artur Kapp wrote most of his choir songs and the patriotic cantata “Ärka rahvas” (Wake Up People), he got inspiration from publishing of Estonian independence in 1918. Brilliants in Kapp´s creation are also his solo songs - expressive and straight. Unfortunately vocal music of Artur Kapp has stayed in forgetfulness and is worthy of more attention.
After Peace Treaty of Tartu with Russia in 1920, to Artur Kapp was made a proposal from representative of Estonia in Moscow to turn back to home country. The conductor of the theatre “Estonia” Raimond Kull had left abroad and Artur Kapp was invited to the new conductor, he worked there until 1924. He also conducted lot of symphonic concerts and began his pedagogical working at the Higher Music School of Tallinn. If the school was reorganized to conservatory in 1925 Artur Kapp got the title of professor. In 1927 he got married repeatedly - with Gertrud Ruckteschell, who also finished Conservatory of Peterburg as a pianist. Working in the theatre considerably disturbed his creation activity and he gave up as a conductor devoting to music. At that time he wrote his magnificent and successful compositions. Teaching at the conservatory took lot of time and he couldn’t deepen so properly, so he wrote mostly on summer holydays. In summer 1924 in Liivamäe he wrote “Sümfoonia Nr.1 A-moll” (Symphonic the first A minor) devoting to 100th jubilee of 9th Symphonic of Beethoven. 1926-1929 the main work of his creation got ready - oratorio “Hiiob”; the premier in 1931 was great event in Estonian music life. The President of Estonia Konstantin Päts was at this concert and to Artur Kapp was given the bust of Artur Kapp himself made by sculptor H. Halliste, and the big laurel wreath. In summer 1934 staying in the beautiful countryside of Toila, he wrote “The organ concert Nr. 1” dedicated to EAHS - Eesti Akadeemiline Helikunsti Selts (Estonian Academic Music Society). The best works, written in next years were “Andante ja fugaato” (Andante and Fugato) to string orchestra (1935), symphonic poem “Saatus” (The Fate) (1939), “Fantasy” to violin and organ (orchestra) - theme BACH (1942) etc. With these works Artur Kapp arose to the front ranks of Estonian composers. The great event in creative biography of him was in 1938 the music season of the name of Artur Kapp, celebrating his 60th birthday. On a large scale it formed to the festival of Artur Kapp’s music, during the season were performed the compositions of Artur Kapp and of his students E. Aav, R. Päts, G. Ernesaks, E. Kapp. In the season the music of Artur Kapp was performed not only in Tallinn, but all over Estonia. At the time of music celebration rang his most famous masterpiece - oratorio “Hiiob”. By jubilee concert of the composer in ”Estonia” with great success was performed his cantata “To Sun”. This concert was the culmination of his creative activity, so was expressed honour and respect to the excellent Estonian composer, who had big influence on the development of Estonian music.
After second occupation of Estonia from the Soviet Army Artur Kapp was fired of his post as a professor at the conservatory and he moved to his birthplace to Suure-Jaani, where he died on 14. of January 1952.
The composition work of Artur Kapp is very abundant and diverse. The most considerable in his creation are symphonic works: an overture Don Carlos (1899), a symphonic poem “Hauad” (The Graves, 1917) prelude for cello and orchestra (1918) Symphony Number 1 f-minor(1924) symphonic poem “Saatus” (The Fate) (1939) a cantata To Sun (1912) patriotic cantata “Ärka rahvas” (Wake Up People, 1919), instrumentalconcerts such as Organ Concerto No 1
(1934) Fantasy on theme BACH for violin and orchestra (1942) Concert-rhapsody for piano and orchestra (1943) Important place in Artur Kapp’s creature there are large-scale works for Organ Sonata f-minor key (1896) Hymn Variations (1902), Tokkata (1932), Six Preludes For Organ (1932), Fantasy Of Organ (1932) and many others. In addition to numerous organ works Artur Kapp has written several pieces of chamber music as Violin Sonata (1898), “Viimne piht” (The Last Confess) for organ and violin(1905), Quintet of String Instruments (1918) numerically romances for solo voices “Metsateel”, (On A Road Through The Woods), “Kütkes” (Fascinated), “Hei tuul, mis lendab” (Hey Flying Wind), “Ärge võtke” (Don`t Take), “Mets kohises” (The Rushing Wood), “Latvade kõne” (The Speech of Tops), “Sa oled mu südame suvi”(You Are The Summer of My Heart), and so on. Numerous choral songs are written; “Mu süda”(My Heart), “Palumine”(Requesting), “Sügisene mets”(The Wood in Autumn), “Ääretasa täis on mu süda”(My Heart is Almost Full), “Pühendan Sind looks ja lauluks” (I Dedicate You in Song And Tale), “Püha paik”(The Blessed Place), “Üles, üles hellad vennad” (Go Up Tender Brothers), “Sa püha eluallikas” (The Blessed Life Source).
First of all Kapp was an author of monumental masterpieces like Hiiob [Job], an oratorio (1929) which has had a great success in recent years. There is a lot of works in Kapp’s output worthy to be rediscovered, large-scale works included.
Although the composition of Artur Kapp stayed to the background under difficult soviet conditions, have many of his masterpieces the outstanding place in Estonian music history.

Vardo Rumessen

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