It’s been more than three years since I introduced you to the Lithuanian composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis! I presented two symphonic poems, a few organ works and briefly mentioned his string quartets. It’s time for my readers to catch up with my exploration of his works then. Ciurlionis’ biography taken for itself is remarkable enough to fill a whole series of post. He was a painter, a composer, an essayist and he lived in an interesting time. He witnessed the end of the Russian Empire, of which Lithuania was a part, and he missed by a few years the rebirth of Lithuania as an independent country. The national awakening during the 19th century was nurtured to a great deal by Lithuania’s intellectual elite, of which Ciurlionis was a part.
In 1992, just a few months after Lithuania had regained its independence from the Soviet Union, I visited my longtime penfriend Jolita Grizickaite in that Baltic republic, heir to the now forgotten but once mighty Polish-Lithuanian kingdom.
If Pyotr Tchaikovsky is my all time favourite composer, Claude Monet is my all time favourite painter. He and others of his time from the school of the “Impressionists”, who tried to render in their paintings the immediate and ephemerous effects of light: shadows, reflections by the sun, flickering of waves, distortion by fog etc. While other painters had a political or religious message or tried to express an artistic ideal (romanticism for example), Monet and his friends painted nature as they saw it and when they saw it, that is, outdoor and on the spot, a recurrent subject being the sea.