Helena Tulve

b. 1972



Born in 1972, Helena Tulve studied composition with Alo Põldmäe and Erkki-Sven Tüür at the Estonian Academy of Music in Tallinn from 1989-92 and with Jacques Charpentier at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris from 1992-94, where she earned a premier prix. She also studied Gregorian chant and traditional music in Paris from 1993-96. She attended the annual Cursus de Composition et Informatique Musicale at IRCAM in 2001 and has taken masterclasses led by György Ligeti and Marco Stroppa.


Helena Tulve is an Estonian composer whose music is characterised by constant change and continuous processes. Her music grows out from simple primary impulses, being influenced by natural patterns, organics and synchronicity. No sound can be excluded from Tulve’s music: each timbre can always find its meaningful time and place. Besides composition, she has studied Gregorian chant thoroughly, and various oral musical traditions are still her subject of interest. Helena Tulve has been commissioned by the NYYD Ensemble, Ensemble U:, ensemble diferencias, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Uppsala Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Courage, Ensemble Aleph, Seattle Chamber Players, Deutschlandradio, Schumannfest Düsseldorf, Fondation Prince Pierre of Monaco, Nieuw Ensemble, Stockholm Saxophone Quartet, and Gaudeamus Music Week, among others. Helena Tulve served as Composer-in-Residence with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in the 2001/02 concert season. Commissioned by the choir, her chamber opera "It Is Getting So Dark", based on the 10th century Japanese female writer Sei Shonagon’s diary-like work "Pillow Book", premiered in 2004.

In 2006, Helena Tulve was the featured composer at the Estonian Music Days Festival. In 2012, she was the Composer-in-Residence at the International Pärnu Music Festival Järvi Academy. During the season 2012/13, she served as Composer-in-Residence with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra.