Last Pagan Rites, the oratorio with music by Bronius Kutavičius and words by Sigitas Geda composed in 1978, is to this day considered to be one of the most important and distinctive compositions in the history of Lithuanian music. Therefore, it is no coincidence that Music Information Centre Lithuania, constantly made aware of its undying popularity, has decided to publish the score in a newly edited collector’s edition.
Bronius Kutavičius is like a shaman who knows how to cast a spell over an audience and to draw it into his rites. Like an architect he builds precise constructions – scores, often reminiscent of mandalas made up of various geometric figures: circles, squares, crosses and stars. Or perhaps like an archaeologist using today’s tools he reconstructs the forgotten artefacts of an ancient culture.’
A couple of decades back a survey was carried out amongst music professionals according to which Last Pagan Rites came out number one in a list of the most memorable Lithuanian musical opuses. The survey itself has become a museum curiosity, while the composition continues to live an unfading concert life, which, as Bronius Kutavičius himself has admitted, has also surprised him – in writing the oratorio the composer never imagined the success it was to achieve.
The geographical reach of Rites has long since gone beyond the borders of our country, and, in spite of the challenge of the complicated Lithuanian text for foreign performers to pronounce, it is constantly being performed making Baltic culture better known. Nevertheless, even a work of this calibre has only been published just once over the period of its lifetime and that was more than three decades ago, six years after it was composed. Long out of print, it has been available only in public or private music libraries, like a living reproach reminding us of the need and necessity of a new edition.
Music Information Centre Lithuania is grateful to the Lithuanian Council for Culture for its financial support in the publication of this work; to the MO Museum for its kind permission to use the artist Mikalojus Povilas Vilutis’s silk-screen print (kept at the museum) for the cover of this publication of the sheet music and to the artist himself; and to the photographer Algirdas Tarvydas for the photographs in this publication.
Translated from the Lithuanian by Romas Kinka
Information from Music Information Centre Lithuania