Erkki-Sven Tüür was born in 1959 on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa. One of the most remarkable composers of his generation, Tüür is primarily commissioned by world-renowned performers and his music is played worldwide by outstanding soloists and leading symphony orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonia Orchestra and Wiener Symphoniker. As a composer, Tüür wishes to stimulate the creative energy of the listener: “Music has to have everything – overwhelming power, illuminating light, endless gentleness and the deepest darkness. Fury, pain, remorse. Everything that makes us human. And the tender touch of redeeming love.”
Erkki-Sven Tüür studied percussion and flute at the Tallinn Georg Ots Music High School (1976–1980) and composition with Prof. Jaan Rääts at the Tallinn Conservatoire (1980–1984). He also took private lessons from Prof. Lepo Sumera in Tallinn and developed his skills in the field of electronic music in Karlsruhe. In 1979, Tüür founded the progressive rock ensemble In Spe, where he was engaged as composer, flautist, keyboardist and frontman (vocalist) until 1983. Since 1992, Tüür is a freelance composer, his works are primarily commissioned by world-renowned performers and are frequently premiered abroad before reaching the home public. His music is being played regularly by the best symphony orchestras and outstanding soloists worldwide in the most prestigious concert halls. Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestrede Paris, Philharmonia Orchestra, Wiener Symphoniker and many other renowned orchestras and ensembles have commissioned him to compose new works.
The main characteristic feature of Tüür’s music is an intense energetic transformative dimension. The intuitive and rational approach is synthesized into a complete organic system. Instrumental music makes up the main body of Tüür’s work. He is the author of ten symphonies, a number of works for symphony and string orchestra, thirteen instrumental concertos, a wide variety of chamber music and an opera.
As a composer, Tüür wishes to stimulate the creative energy of the listener. “Music has to have everything - overwhelming power, illuminating light, endless gentleness and the deepest darkness. Fury, pain, remorse. Everything that makes us human. And the tender touch of redeeming love.”
In September 2007, Tüür was the composer-in-residence of Auftakt Festival organized by the Frankfurt Alte Oper in Germany, in which a symposium on Erkki-Sven Tüür’s music was held. The symposium lectures were published in 2008 when the German publisher Schott Music released the book Schwarze Milch und bunte Steine (edited by Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich). Tüür was the featured composer of 1998 Musica Nova Helsinki, 2002 Vale of Glamorgan Festival (UK) and 2003 Klangspuren Schwaz (Austria). In July 2008, Tüür was the composer-in-residence of the Davos Festival in Switzerland, and in October 2015, Tüür was the composer-in-residence of the Brno International Music Festival Moravian Autumn. In August 2016 he was the composer-in-residence of Moritzburg Festival, in June 2017 of Spannungen Festival in Heimbach and in July 2019 of Fjord Classics in Norway. 2019/2020 he held the position of Creative Chair of Tonhalle Orchester Zürich.
From 1991 to 2011, Erkki-Sven Tüür was one of the artistic directors of the International New Music Festival NYYD, he also holds an honorary doctorate from the Estonian Academy of Music. He has received the annual Estonian Music Prize (1987, 1988), the Estonian Culture Prize (1997), the Great Bear Prize (1996, 1997), the Baltic Assembly Culture Prize (1998), the Order of the White Star - 2nd Class (2000), the Annual Prize of the Estonian Music Council (2003) and the Annual Prize of the Endowment for Music of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia thrice: in 2003 for the CD "Exodus"; in 2005 for the artistic direction of the NYYD international contemporary music festivals and in 2007 for an outstandingly creative year. In 2009, Erkki-Sven Tüür received the title of Citizen of the Year. In 2014, Tüür was awarded the Culture Prize of the Republic of Estonia for his Clarinet Concerto Peregrinus ecstaticus and the orchestral work De Profundis. Peregrinus Ecstaticus was also awarded prize "The Young Musicians Favorite Choice" of the Foundation of Prince Pierre of Monaco in 2015. In the same year, Tüür was given the Christoph und Stephan Kaske Stiftung's prize in Munich. In 2018, SolastalaZgia for piccolo and symphony orchestra was awarded the new composition award Au-tasu by LHV Bank. In 2019, Tüür received Annual Award of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia for the fruitful creative year 2018 (Symphony No. 9 Mythos, Violin Concerto No. 2 and Solastalgia). Erkki-Sven Tüür was given the title of Choral Composer of the Year 2020 by Estonian Choral Association.
Albums with music by Erkki-Sven Tüür have been released by ECM, Ondine, Warner, and EMI Virgin. The albums Magma (Virgin Classics) and Seventh Symphony & Piano Concerto (ECM) have been nominated for the Gramophone Award. Mythos (Alpha Classics) received DIAPASON D'OR DE L'ANNÉE 2020 in France.
Erkki-Sven Tüür’s works are published by Edition Peters and by Fennica Gehrman.
15th December 2023
- YXUS Ensemble, New Wind Jazz Orchestra, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra
- Risto Joost
- Kultuurikatel, Black Box, Tallinn, Estonia
8th March 2024
- Nicolas Altstaedt
- Thomas Dausgaard
- 8pm Konzerthalle (Joseph-Keilberth-Saal), Bamberg, Germany
13th March 2024
- Scottish Chamber Orchestra
- Pekka Kuusisto
- Holy Trinity Churc, St Andrews, United Kingdom
14th March 2024
- Vanemuine Theatre Symphony Orchestra, Tartu
- Tallinn, Estonia
15th March 2024
- Vanemuine Theatre Symphony Orchestra, Tartu
- Pärnu, Estonia