TALLINN PIANO FESTIVAL is the biggest piano festival in the Baltic and Nordic area being organised by the Estonian State Concert Institution Eesti Kontsert. The festival started in 1998, on the initiative of its founder and artistic director pianist Lauri Väinmaa who wished to introduce exceptional pianists to the Estonian music audience, as well as to familiarise the locals with new trends on the global music arena. Another idea was to honour the format of a traditional piano recital practised for as many as 150 years.
The Tallinn International Piano Festival is a unique piano week. The festival attracts the greatest number of visitors of any festival of classics in Estonia, making it a prestigious event to perform at. The festival has a special aura – an attraction that draws a large audience from many neighbouring countries.Tallinn is an enchanting historic city, its mediaeval Old Town listed in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Between concert visits, one can gleefully roam the medieval streets, relax in cafeterias, and gaze at the stunning panorama of the city from the slopes of Toompea.
After the great success of the first Tallinn Piano Festival in 1998, it has developed in many directions. On the one hand, historic instruments have been introduced, like the clavichord, harpsichord and fortepiano. On the other hand, concerts of contemporary music take place: on prepared piano (Cage, Estonian pianist Kerikmäe), with the help of electronics (Stockhausen), and by incorporating human speech (Rzewski). There have been concerts of large piano ensembles, like those of the Estonian Piano Orchestra, where 8 pianists perform on four pianos. The festival is often opened and ended with orchestral concerts, where the sounds of piano concerts and piano music-inspired orchestral pieces are heard. The festival takes place every two years during the last week of October in the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn, the most important one in Estonia, featuring excellent acoustics and first-class pianos.
Instruments available at Estonia Concert Hall
are 2 Grand concert pianos
Steinway & Sons model: D (Concert Grand)
no:597429 (2014, Hamburg) /no: 542946 (1997, Hamburg)
At some fifteen concerts that take place over the course of a week, grand international stars, young emerging talents, and crème de la crème of Estonian pianists perform. Many of them have become and remain favourites of our audiences: Nelson Freire, Stephen Kovacevich, Cyprien Katsaris, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Marc-André Hamelin, Angela Hewitt, Stephen Hough, Paul Lewis, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Piotr Anderszewski, Mihhail Pletnjov, Arcadi Volodos, Nikolai Luganski, Louis Lortie and Eliso Virsaladze. The artists listed are but a small portion of the more than 150 pianists who have performed at the festival. The festival has commissioned more than 10 new pieces from the following Estonian composers: Jaan Rääts, Jüri Reinvere, Tõnu Kõrvits, Peeter Vähi, Urmas Sisask, Helena Tulve, Mari Vihmand, Margo Kõlar, René Eespere and Ülo Krigul.
Exhibitions of piano and the history of piano music are an integral part of the festival. Since the exhibition of models by Yamaha and Estonia of the first festival, the production of different Estonian piano manufacturers over time have been displayed, as well as an exhibition of square pianos. The subjects of panel exhibitions have been The Development of Keyboard Instruments Through the Ages, The Piano Recital Through the Ages, World-class Pianists in Estonia, Chopin in Paris (an exhibit by Cité de la musique), Charles Rosen – a Musician and Thinker, Composers-Virtuosos Over the Ages, etc
Music education is an objective of the festival. Thematic concerts of students - rendition of the Goldberg Variations by J. S. Bach or Liszt's Etudes op. 1 by a group of young pianists take pace. Workshops by visiting artists play an important role. We support the participation of piano students and teachers as listeners from all over Estonia. The number of students and teachers gathered from all ends of Estonia has been around a few hundred people. Students and teachers can purchase discount tickets and passes of the festival.
LAURI VÄINMAA, the Artistic Director of the Festival is held in high regard as a pianist, a teacher and an organiser of music life. His repertoire includes music from baroque to contemporary; with almost all of Beethoven’s creation for the piano in the heart of it (Väinmaa has performed 32 of the composer’s sonatas and 5 concertos in the form of concert cycles). Väinmaa is also a remarkable performer of modern music. His repertoire comprises all of the music for the piano by the New Vienna School, Alfred Schnittke and Arvo Pärt; he was first in Estonia to play Ligeti’s etudes and Boulez’s second Piano Sonata. Väinmaa has been the first to perform the music of Estonian composers Eino Tamberg, Jaan Rääts, Toivo Tulev, Urmas Sisask, Peeter Vähi, Mari Vihmand, and Ülo Krigul.
Lauri Väinmaa has recorded 4 CDs for the company Warner Brothers, including piano concertos by Tubin, Sumera and Lemba in cooperation with ERSO, and solo piano music by Estonian composers. He has also recorded solo pieces and chamber music for other companies and for several radio stations, among which, the recording complete piano music by Arvo Pärt for BBC3 could be highlighted. Väinmaa has performed in the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, China, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Russia and elsewhere. He has worked with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, with the Netherlands, Latvian and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestras and other orchestras. Conductors Eri Klas, Arvo Volmer, Andrei Boreiko and Nikolai Aleksejev are among the pianist’s cooperation partners.
Since 2001, Lauri Väinmaa has been playing in a piano duo with Piret Väinmaa. He is the founder and head of the Estonian Piano Orchestra consisting of 8 pianists. Väinmaa has been teaching at the Estonian Academy for Music and Theatre for over 25 years and is regularly giving master courses in various countries. From 2001 to 2010 he has been the Head of the Piano Faculty at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences in Finland. He is a regular member in the juries of international competitions.
Lauri Väinmaa has graduated from the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, where he studied with Mihhail Pletnev and Lev Vlassenko. He has studied under Christopher Elton at the Royal Academy of Music in London and under Bruno Lukk at the Tallinn National Conservatory. He is the winner of the third National Competition for Pianists in Estonia and the Minsk International Piano Competition. He has won special prizes in the Scottish International Piano Competition and in the William Kapell International Piano Competition in the United States.