Robert Jürjendal

January 10, 1966, Kunda, Estonia
Member of the Estonian Composers' Union since 2012

Robert Jürjendal studied classical guitar at the Georg Ots Tallinn Music College in 1981–1985, taking also composition classes with Anti Marguste.

Between 1992 and 1997, he regularly took part in Guitar Craft Courses led by British guitarist and pedagogue Robert Fripp, leader of the legendary British rock group King Crimson. He has toured with The Berlin Guitar Ensemble in Germany. Since 2000, Jürjendal has been working as a freelance composer, creating music for different instruments, ensembles and choirs, and for films and theatre. In 2013, he obtained a master's degree in educational sciences at the Viljandi Culture Academy of the University of Tartu.

In 1993, Jürjendal together with Mart Soo and Tõnis Leemets formed the group Weekend Guitar Trio, which has performed at jazz and contemporary music festivals all over Europe and won first prize at the Lausanne International Guitar Festival in 1995. Weekend Guitar Trio has collaborated with Gregorian chant ensemble Vox Clamantis and with many foreign artists, among the others Toyah Willcox, Jan Bang and Petras Vishnauskas. In 2005, Weekend Guitar Trio was awarded the Year’s Award of the Estonian Cultural Endowment for their concert activity in Estonia and abroad. Jürjendal has composed and arranged most of WGT’s music.

As a guitarist, Jürjendal has appeared on more than 60 albums and performed at festivals in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia. Over the past 30 years, Jürjendal has written music, recorded and performed together with artists and collectives of various genres ranging from classical to jazz, folk, ambient and electronic music, such as Tõnis Mägi & 777, Weekend Guitar Trio, Fragile, Riho Sibul, Kärt Johanson, Siiri Sisask, Suurõ Pilvõ, UMA, David Rothenberg, Petri Kuljuntausta, Markus Reuter, Madis Metsamart, Liis Viira, Andi Pupato, Iris Oja, Kaido Kirikmäe, Anti Jürjendal, Five Seasons, Jan Bang, Colin Edwin, Sándor Szabó, Jon Durant, Arve Henriksen, Ellerhein Girls Choir, Chamber Choir Head Ööd Vend, K.O.O.R., Estonian National Male Choir, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and many others.

He has written music for various stage plays, nature films, short films and antropology films – Black With Red, Lanswood gardens (dir. Pawel Kuczynski, Poland), Measure Of Man (dir. M. Kõrver), for documentaries (Woman and Glazier, dir. A. Stonys, Come Back Free, dir. K. Okhapkina).

In spring 2007, Robert Jürjendal started a new project called UMA with corno da caccia player Aleksei Saks, with whom he performed at London Jazz Festival in 2009. Ensemble UMA has collaborated and recorded with reputed musicians like Andi Pupato (Nick Bärtsch Ronin), Markus Reuter ( Tuner, Stickmen) and Tim Bowness (No-Man). Since the spring 2012, one of the partners of UMA has been Estonian well-known mezzo-soprano Iris Oja. In 2011, ensemble Slow Electric with British musicians Tim Bowness and Peter Chilvers was founded. Robert Jürjendal has performed at music festivals in the U.S., England, Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Moldova, Russia and elsewhere.

In 2013, Robert Jürjendal started his guitar and live electronics solo project, also collaborating with the clergyman Jaan Tammsalu and the poet Doris Kareva. Robert Jürjendal's first solo album Source Of Joy was released in the same year. The album also features English avant-garde musician and flutist Geoff Leigh (Henry Cow). In addition, the albums Balm Of Light (2015), Simple Past (2016) feat. Andrus Lillepea and Water Finds A Way (2021), featuring Signe Jürjendal (vocals), Anti Jürjendal (cello) and Miguel Noya (piano) were released.

In addition to solo records, Robert Jüjendal has released collaborative albums with Hungarian guitarist Sándor Szabó, American / Venezuelan duo DOGON, American guitarist Jon Durant and English bassist Colin Edwin.

At the present time, Robert Jürjendal is an active free-lance musician and composer.  Robert Jürjendal is a member of Estonian Jazz Union and the Estonian Guitar Society, he also belongs to the work group of Viljandi Guitar Festival. In 2017, he was awarded the title of Musician of the Year by Estonian Public Broadcasting.

Robert Jürjendal: Guitar and electronics have been my long-time means of expression. Despite this, I think that the limitation of the musical thinking of one specific instrument puts obstacles to the development of musical perception. I am more interested in human - what he thinks, feels and worships. Certainly, there is much to do with coincidence that the way into my musical world has found the harpsichord, recorder, trumpet, Corno da Caccia, string quartet, vibraphone and the human voice, and along with these instruments a number of open and bright personalities of musicians.

Look also:
Weekend Guitar Trio

© EMIC 2012
Updated in March 2022

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