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Osvaldas Balakauskas
1937 -
O. Balakauskas
Osvaldas (Jonas) Balakauskas (19/12/1937), a Lithuanian composer (born in Miliunai). He trained in the Music Faculty of the Vilnius Pedagogical Institute (1957-1961), and, later, studied composition with Boris Lyatoshinsky at the Kiev Conservatoire (1964-1969). Since 1972 he has lived in Vilnius. From 1988 to 1992 he was a member of the council of the "Sajudis" (Lithuanian independence movement). From 1992 to 1994 he was Lithuanian ambassador - the first after 50 years of foreign rule - to France, Spain and Portugal (residing in Paris). At the present time he is Head of the Composition Department of the Lithuanian Academy of Music. In 1996 Balakauskas was honoured with the Lithuanian National Prize, in 1998 with the Order of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas (3rd level).
Requiem in memoriam Stasys Lozoraitis
Composed in:1995
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
In memory of:Stasys Lozoraitis
Label(s):Naxos 8.557604
This requiem is for soprano solo, mixed choir and orchestra. Duration: 53'.
Contributor:Arye Kendi
The composition of a requiem mass is always a special event in the life of a major composer, largely because of the distinguished and perhaps even overwhelming tradition of which the work will be a part. Osvaldas Balakauskas' Lozoraitis Requiem is for mezzo-soprano, mixed choir, and chamber orchestra consisting of flute, oboe, bass-clarinet, trombone, synthesizer, and strings. In a letter to me of 11 November 1996, Balakauskas wrote the following about his requiem: "The work was composed in 1995. Five movements were per-formed at the festival of cantatas and oratorios Vratislavia Cantans (September 1995, Wroclaw, Poland). The whole work was performed in Vilnius and Kaunas in March 1996, then Klaipėda and Šiauliai. The performers were Judita Leitaitė (mezzo), the Aidija choir led by Romas Gražinis and the St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra conducted by Donatas Katkus.
Stasys Lozoraitis (1924-1994) was a Lithuanian diplomat when it was occupied by the Red army and annexed to the Soviet Union in 1940. He remained in the diplomatic service in exile until Lithuania's independence was restored in 1990. During these years he was ambassador to the United States and the Vatican; thus Lozoraitis syrnbolized Lithuania's freedom during the 50 year Russian occupation. In 1993 he became a candidate for the Lithuanian presidency. Although he did not win, he will remain in Lithuanian memory as a champion of liberty and an example of honor and nobility.
The requiem was composed keeping in mind the Medieval tradition of Christian music, from Gregorian chant, organum, to the motets of the Ars Nova. Although there are no direct quotations from this repertory, its melodic-harmonic principles are echoed in my composition. At times, these principles are altered in a modern manner, such as the polytonality of the "Confutatis," but the general atmosphere is marked by consonant serenity. The canonical text was used, but its order was somewhat modified.
Balakauskas' requiem represents a major change in the composer's style. From the 1960s on, Balakauskas was deeply involved in a personal brand of atonality. Complex rhythms and textures abound in such a work as the Symphony No. l (1973) In addition, references to jazz and Lithuanian folk material confer a special energy and expressivity that have made Balakauskas one of Lithuania's leading composers. The requiem, on the other hand, is tonal and seemingly quite simple, especially as compared with the work just cited. The composer himself once told me, "it (the requiem) is even more old-fashioned than Palestrina." Although, as, we will see this is not completely true, the impact of the requiem is immediate and profound, and the work came as a surprise to many listeners familiar with Balakauskas' previous compositions. In order to understand the reasons for this, I wish to put the work in a general as well as specific perspective.
S. Lozoraitis