Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, hosted, and edited by Fred Flaxman
©2011 by Fred Flaxman

Program 187
"Artur Lemba"

MUSIC: excerpt from the opening of the third movement of Artur Lemba’s Symphony in C-Sharp Minor, performed by the Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi [Chandos 241-26, CD-1, Track 4] [under the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman, and I’m going to devote the next hour to the beautiful but relatively unknown music of the Estonian Romantic composer, Artur Lemba. This is the beginning of the third movement of his Symphony in C-Sharp Minor. We’ll listen to three movements from that symphony later in the program, as well as a complete performance of his melodious Piano Concerto Number 1.

MUSIC: Fades out

Artur Lemba was born in Tallinn, Estonia, in 1885. He died there in 1963. He learned to play the piano from his brother and followed in his brother’s footsteps to enroll in the St. Petersburg Conservatory. There he studied piano and composition.

Lemba graduated in 1908, receiving a gold medal in piano and a silver medal in composition, as well as the Anton Rubinstein prize, which was a grand piano. Two years later he participated in the Anton Rubinstein Piano Competition, where he placed among the eight finalists. They included Arthur Rubinstein and Edwin Fischer.

Lemba became a piano teacher at the St. Petersburg Conservatory after his graduation. He taught and gave concerts in St. Petersburg until 1920. Then he returned to Estonia, where he worked as a piano teacher, eventually becoming the head of the piano department at the Tallinn Conservatory. He also gave concerts in Estonia, St. Petersburg, Riga, Moscow, Odessa, Budapest, Helsinki, and Stockholm. In addition, Lemba composed music in almost every genre.

Very little of this music seems to be available on CDs, which seems a pity to me considering how beautiful his music is that I have heard. My Parisian friend, Jean Hadas-Lebel, not only introduced me to this music, but was kind enough to supply me with the recording you are about to hear of his first piano concerto. The only recording currently available of this work in the U.S. contains only the second movement, and that is part of a collection of “Piano Adagios” on the Erato label, which I found at ArkivMusic.com.

Let’s hear that three-movement concerto now as performed by pianist Lauri Väinmaa with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arvo Volmer.

MUSIC: Lemba: Piano Concerto No. 1, performed by Lauri Väinmaa with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arvo Volmer [Finlandia, Track 13]

Artur Lemba’s Piano Concerto No. 1, performed by Lauri Väinmaa with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arvo Volmer.

You are listening to the music of the Romantic Estonian composer Artur Lemba on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the total timing]

Artur Lemba's 1905 opera Sabina was the first opera composed by an Estonian. And his Symphony No. 1 in 1908 was the first symphony composed by an Estonian. That symphony is 40 minutes long, so I don’t have time to play it all for you. But if you like what you hear, I think you will enjoy the entire symphony, which is available on a superb two-CD Chandos collection of “Music from Estonia.”

All the performances on these two compact discs feature the Scottish National Orchestra under the direction of the world-famous Estonian-born conductor Neeme Järvi.

MUSIC: Lemba: the first, third and fourth movements of his Symphony in C-sharp Minor, performed by the Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi [Chandos CHAN 241-26, CD 1, Tracks 2, 4 and 5] [the following is spoken over the ending of the final movement]

The first, third, and final movements of Artur Lemba’s 1908 Symphony in C-sharp Minor. Neeme Järvi conducted the Scottish National Orchestra on this Chandos compact disc from ArkivMusic.com.

And that concludes this hour devoted to the music of the Romantic Estonian composer Artur Lemba. Thanks for listening and for supporting your local public broadcasting station. This is your guide, Fred Flaxman, inviting you to join me again next time for more Compact Discoveries!

ANNOUNCER (Steve Jencks): Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz, and an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida. And by contributions to local public radio stations by listeners like you. Thank you.

Total Program Timing: 59:00