The Estonian composer Eduard Tubin, who spent most of his life in Sweden, did not become famous when he was alive. Appreciated only after his death, he could not have imagined that his birthday would be commemorated in a country for away from his native one or that of his exile. Yet, as his son lives in Kaş, a seaside town near Antalya, for the second time his birthday has been commemorated with a concert.
Despite the stormy weather, a multinational string orchestra on stage in Kaş amphitheatre last Wednesday performed to commemorate the composer’s 105th birthday. Actually, the musicians, conducted by violinist Dr. Orhan Ahıskal, started the concert a bit earlier than scheduled due to the unfavorable weather conditions. Though it was totally unusual for Kaş in this season, dark bulky clouds, as if implying an ascending tornado, gathered over the sea with lightning and thunder and spraying raindrops. The music stands were hardly kept upright, and the scores flew around.
In this unbelievably extraordinary setting, the musicians went on playing enthusiastically, and the audience did not move a bit out of appreciation for the artists’ sense of devotion and purpose. As Petra Vahle, a viola player, said after the concert, “The orchestra wished to perform this concert so much that we decided to start a bit early to be able to play at least a few pieces before the probable heavy rainfall.”
The music went on, and fortunately, toward the mid of the performance, the wind changed direction and the colossal clouds slowly turned back to the sea nearly from the edge of the amphitheater, and the blue night sky became slowly visible just after sunset. The audience was relieved to enjoy the music and the enchanting setting of the amphitheater while viewing the sparkling sea under the moonlight.
The first “Edward Tubin Memorial Night” at Kaş Amphitheatre took place last year on June 20. This year a soprano, Angela Ahıskal from the United States, took the stage and sang two songs. Eduard Tubin’s “Prelude” (1928), the only piece from the master, was played by Peter Winterton from the United Kingdom as a piano solo.
The performance deserved all the applause it got from the faithful audience, which included the mayor of Kaş and the Estonian ambassador, expats, tourists and locals. “But unfortunately Eduard Tubin did not receive the appreciation he deserved throughout his lifetime,” said music director and conducting violinist Dr. Ahıskal after the performance.
The life story of Eduard Tubin, who is considered one of the most important composers of symphonic music of the 20th century, conforms to this general acceptance.
Tubin was born in 1905 in Estonia and was interested in music since his early childhood. He was admitted to the Tartu College of Music at the age of 19, and soon after his graduation, he was appointed as conductor of the Tartu City Theater.
“When he fled to Sweden with his family in 1944 after the Soviet occupation, he had been intensively conducting the orchestra for 14 years,” as confirmed by his son Eino Tubin. “After fleeing to Sweden as a refugee, he accepted a modest job of rewriting and restoring baroque operas in the archive of the museum of the Royal Theater outside Stockholm,” Eino said. Though it was not a glittering job and he was little paid, he was fortunately able to devote half of his working days for composing his own pieces.
For years he went on composing great works silently without being noticed either in Sweden or in Estonia, his homeland. Just five years before his death, his adopted country Sweden awarded him with the “Atterberg Fellowship” in 1977. By the nearly end of his life, he began to be recognized internationally when Neeme Järvi, an Estonian conductor, fled to the United States in 1980. Neeme Järvi conducted his Symphony No.10 with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra in the presence of the composer in 1981. This was the last great event in Tubin's life.
“After his death in 1982, Neeme Järvi recorded all his music, and afterwards, my father became widely recognized throughout the world. His symphonies were conducted in major cities, including Tokyo, New York and London. Especially when Estonia gained independence in 1991, a kind of cultural renaissance emerged, and Eduard Tubin was adopted as a national value of the country,” said Eino. He is also proud that in 2005 for the celebration of his 100th birthday, all of his works were played intensively in two months in Talinn, the Estonian capital, and Tartu. Also, the same year his statue was erected in Tartu.
Eino Tubin, the only living child of the composer moved to Kaş years ago with his Turkish wife Beyhan Tubin after quitting his regular job as a journalist in Sweden and devoting his time to writing books.
Beyhan Tubin, the daughter-in-law of Tubin, remembers well the years they passed together with him as a happy family. She yearns for these years, remembering her guiding him during visits to Turkey together. She remembered the moment when the late Tubin stopped and listened to the call to prayer and later asked for copies of it. “He was also interested in Turkish folk music and collected many records. Later on, some claimed that in his Symphony No.9 there were slight influences of Turkish folk music.
Eduard Tubin’s belongings to travel from Kaş to Estonia
Tubin’s family in Kaş hosted the musicians, who voluntarily came together for the occasion from various part of the world, in their house. Besides musicians, there were other guests, including Aivo and Mare Orav, the Estonian ambassador and his wife.
Ambassador Orav came to Kaş not only to watch the concert. He was in Kaş for the official duty of taking over Tubin’s belongings, which were donated by the family to the Eduard Tubin Museum, which will be opened next year on the occasion of Tallinn’s becoming the 2011 European Culture Capital.
There have been other cultural activities that have taken place between Turkey and Estonia, Oray told Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
He mentioned a concert that took place in Istanbul on June 7. Turkish and Estonian presidents were in attendance, and a special piece of music, “Adam’s Lament,” was played, which was composed by Arvo Part, an Estonian composer for Istanbul as paertr of the 2010 Capital of Culture events. He also told of an open-air party in Bolu, north of Ankara, which hosted approximately 1,000 guests and took place on the occasion of their day of independence. The party was combined with a cross-country skiing race, which is a very popular sport in Estonia.
Vahur Luhtsalu, who played cello in the concert, is the former deputy head of mission in the Estionian Embassy in Ankara. Currently he is the coordinator of the Estonian Cultural Season in Istanbul.
Music brings people and countries together, the Ambassador Orav pointed out after the concert.
Eduard Tubin had never been to Kaş, but his music was a part of the memories of many in Kaş. One of these people, Uğur Eken, a senior architect, said after last year’s concert he started to listen to Tubin’s music and greatly appreciated it. But, like Bart Ville, a Belgian living in Kaş, he still wonders why more pieces from Tubin have not been played in both concerts. Orhan Ahıskal, who selected the pieces for the concerts, replied to HDN’s questions on the issue with a sigh of yearning. “To play a Tubin symphony requires at least an orchestra of 60 to 70 musicians. We need the sponsors to support it. If the source were provided, we could conduct such a concert, even in Aspendos.”