Bronius Kutavičius

A prolific composer and long-standing dominant figure in new Lithuanian music, Bronius Kutavičius is considered the harbinger of minimalism in Lithuanian music. The way the composer uses many-layered repetitions and reduces the musical material to rather elementary archetypal patterns, may resemble American or early European minimalism, but it sounds quite different. Kutavičius' special kind of minimalism is his own invention, and is rooted deeply in archaic forms of Lithuanian folk music. On the other hand, he is able to develop such an intense drama ouf of minimalist repetitions that the audience is sometimes left almost 'bowled over with sounds'. Kutavičius admits that he started following his own creative vision and writing some of his valuable compositions quite late, towards the end of his thirties. Among them was Pantheistic Oratorio (1970) - now often considered the take-off point of genuinely modern Lithuanian music, and especially oratorio Last Pagan Rites (1978), valued as one of the most important and influential Lithuanian contemporary music works.


Bronius Kutavičius (b. 1932) entered the Lithuanian State Conservatory (presently the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre) in 1959, where, until 1964, he studied composition with Prof. Antanas Račiūnas. In 1987 he was honoured with the Lithuanian State Prize, in 1995 - with the Lithuanian National Arts and Culture Prize. In 1996 Bronius Kutavičius received the prize of the "Probaltica" Festival in Toruń, Poland, for his lifetime artistic achievements. In 1999 he was honoured with the 4th Class Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas and the Officers Cross Order for his merits to the Republic of Poland, in 2003 - with the order "For Merits to Lithuania". He is a winner of prizes of the composers' competitions organized by the Lithuanian Composers' Union: best stage work (stage diptych "Ignis et fides", 2003), best chamber work (cello octet "Andata e ritorno", 2008), best stage work again (music for silent film by Carl Theodor Dreyer, "The Passion of Joan of Arc", 2010). His compositions "The 10th of April, Saturday..." for soprano and symphony orchestra, and "Winter Cares" for choir and orchestra were among the laureates of the same competition in 2011 and 2012, as well. The composer was also awarded the prize of the World Intellectual Property Organization (2003) and the "Author of the Year" prize established by the Agency of Lithuanian Copyright Protection Association (2004).

His music is regularly performed at various festivals in Lithuania and abroad: Warsaw Autumn (1978, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2002), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (1990, Great Britain), Festival International des Musiques d'Aujourdhui de Strasbourg 'Musica' (1992), Mare Balticum (1992, Finland), De Suite Muziekweek (1995, The Netherlands), Wratislavia Cantans (1995, Poland), Vale of Glamorgan Festival (1996, Great Britain), Baltic Arts'96 (Great Britain), Probaltica'96 (Poland), Spitalfields Festival (2002, Great Britain), MaerzMusik (2003, Germany), Icebreaker II: Baltic Voices (2004, USA), ISCM World Music Days in Vilnius (2008). In 1998 Bronius Kutavičius was a guest composer at the Music Harvest Festival in Odense, Denmark.

Bronius Kutavičius' work is dealt with in three books: 'Bronius Kutavičius. A Music of Signs and Changes' by Raminta Lampsatis (Vilnius, 1998; in English), 'Pagan Avant-Garde. Theoretical aspects of music by Bronius Kutavičius' by Inga Jasinskaitė-Jankauskienė (Vilnius, 2001; in Lithuanian), and 'Music of Bronius Kutavičius. Passing Time' by the same author (Vilnius, 2008; in Lithuanian). To date, Bronius Kutavičius' discography includes 7 portrait CDs.

The name of the composer is first of all associated with the revealing impact on the local intellectual society by his works such as Pantheistic Oratorio (1970), Last Pagan Rites (1978) and From the Jatvingian Stone (1983). These monumental opuses best represent the concept and style of the author:

The world of Kutavičius' oratorios is governed by unique temporal-spatial relationships and characterised by a prominent visual aspect;

The theatrical effect of his work and resemblance to a ritual lends Kutavičius work exceptional magic;

The constantly pulsating rhythm magnetises the audience who soon find themselves involved in the musical action;

Kutavičius' music is stripped of any academic restrictions; quite often rough or intentionally "pure" and "bare" textures are utilized;

A highly concentrated idea by the author is brought forth by spare vehicles;

Still his biggest asset is his insight into the core of Lithuanian folk music, lying much deeper than any tangible sound structures.

The work by Bronius Kutavičius transcends the sphere of pure music to enter much wider cultural domains. It uncovers centuries-old layers of history and reaches back to prehistoric times to speak in archetypes of mythical and religious consciousness. At the same time, Kutavičius' music is contemporary enough; it speaks to the modern audience in a novel language. Kutavičius is fluent in modern techniques such as serialism, sonorism, aleatoric, collage, repetitive minimalism (the last corresponds to the basic principles of ancient folk music), spatial organization of music and, consequently, innovative notation. The archaic and primeval in character music by Bronius Kutavičius, a composer on a mission of "cultural archaeology", is also no less rationalistic and mathematically exact. His precise and sometimes sophisticated sound systems are always full of life and strong emotions.