Kronos’ Fifty for the Future Composers

Onutė Narbutaitė - Lithuania


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About Onutė Narbutaitė

Onutė Narbutaitė is one of Lithuania’s best-known composers. She learned the basics of composition from Bronius Kutavičius, graduating in 1979 from the Lithuanian State Conservatory (now the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre) where she studied composition under Prof. Julius Juzeliūnas. From 1979 to 1982, she taught music theory and history at the Klaipėda Faculty of the Lithuanian State Conservatory. Sine then, she has concentrated solely on her creative work and lives in Vilnius.

In 1997, the Narbutaitė was awarded the Lithuanian National Prize for her oratorio Centones meae urbi. The cycle of symphonies Tres Dei Matris Symphoniae and the symphonic composition La barca were recognized as the best symphonic works in the 2004 and 2005 competitions organized by the Lithuanian Composers’ Union. This same competition chose her as Composer of the Year in 2015 for her opera Kornetas (The Cornet) and the chamber work Was There a Butterfly?. Narbutaitė is also the recipient of the Lithuanian Association of Artists prize (2005); the St Christopher statue awarded by the Vilnius City Municipality, the highest honor it can bestow, for depicting Vilnius in her music (2008); the Gold Star awarded by the Lithuanian Copyright Protection Association (2015); among many other prizes.

As early as the 1980s, Onutė Narbutaitė enjoyed the reputation of a composer of subtle chamber music. Her early opuses were suffused with depictions of night, silence, and oblivion; her compositions, unhurried in their flow, with their transparent textures and nostalgic in mood, not infrequently would remind one of the pages of a diary written with sounds. In the years following Lithuania’s independence the composer’s music underwent a significant transformation—Narbutaitė began devoting herself to large-scale symphonic and symphonic-vocal works. In maintaining her undeniably creative independence, Narbutaitė has developed an expressive musical language, characterized by intellectualism and structural thinking, expressive instrumentation, and a haunting melodic quality, sounds stacked vertically one on top of the other, and an intense musical flow. The subtle sonic imagination in her music is in harmony with the rich cultural references to be found there.

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