On Nov. 25 a rather special event took place in the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallinn. The internationally active Estonian composer René Eespere had recently completed his second ear training textbook for musicians and the follow-up book presentation took place in the “orelisaal” (hall for organ music) in the presence of about 75 music teachers and musicians from all over Estonia (including a visitor from Canada).
The 274-page tome, called “Prima volta?”, with its accompanying 6-CD package, is a monumental achievement in music pedagogy. The book and CD programmes contain exercises and suggestions on methodology that follow up on the composer’s previous textbook, “Prima vista?” (1994), both textbooks being compilations of Eespere’s teaching material over the years.
Eespere (b. 1953), having taught composition and theoretical subjects at the Academy since 1979, has an impressive list of compositions to his credit: opera, ritualistic ballet, oratorio, concertos and many vocal-symphonic works, most of which have been published by Eres, Antes, Edition 49 and Edition Eisenberg and recorded on seven compact discs.
A strong proponent of ear training, prof. Eespere has composed exercises, assignments and dictations to correct deficiencies in organized learning material meant for institutions of higher musical education. His current work focuses on building a link between tonal and post-tonal musical expression.
There is an interesting Canadian connection in “Prima volta?”. The young up-and-coming composer Riho Maimets from Toronto is a participant in the achievement, having produced the necessary translations for the methodology. Maimets, who only recently returned to Canada, spent four years at the Academy, studying with composers such as Eespere and Helena Tulve, and is enrolled in the Master’s programme at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto.
Thanks to the generous support of the European Social Fund Primus and the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, “Prima volta?” is going to be made available to the general public. Musicians and music teachers in North America, particularly those of the Estonian persuasion, would do well to cultivate their connections with the Music Academy in Tallinn in order to acquire this useful tool for musical development.
“Prima volta?” by René Eespere and a special event in Tallinn