Adalbert Wirkhaus

May 17, 1880 Väägvere village, Sootaga parish, Estonia – December 19, 1961 Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA

Conductor, composer and pedagogue. He finished Tartu City School (Tartu Linnakool) in 1896 and Tallinn Railroad Technical School (Raudtee-tehnikakool) in 1899. In 1908, he graduated from Leipzig Conservatoire in conducting with Artúr Nikisch and composition under Max Reger, being thus the first Estonian professional conductor.

He was active as a music director in Narva Võitleja and Ilmarine Society (1899–1902) and Tartu: he conducted Conradin Kreutzer’s opera The Night Camp in Granada performed in Estonian language (1907), orchestrated and conducted Karl August Hermann’s songplay Uku and Vanemuine in Tartu, Tallinn, Narva and St. Petersburg (1908).

Wirkhaus was a music director in Estonia Theatre (1908–1912) and in Valga Säde Society (1912–1917), in latter he conducted operettas like Johann Strauss’s The Bat, Robert Planquette’s The Bells of Corneville, Leo Fall’s The Merry Farmer, and Christoph Willibald Gluck’s opera Iphigenia in Tauris. He worked also as a music teacher in Valga schools. Wirkhaus was a music teacher in Tartu (1918–1943, mainly in Hugo Treffner Gymnasium), founded Tartu Music School in 1919 together with August Nieländer, conducted youth choirs and orchestras and was general director of wind orchestras at Tartu County Song Celebrtions (I, II and III).

In 1944, he fled to Germany where at first he worked as a teacher in Estonian schools in Würzburg and Miltenberg and then was a choir conductor and music teacher in Geislingen (1947–1948). Since 1949 Wirkhaus lived in Fort Lauderdale in the USA, where he worked as an organist and choir conductor, also revised Estonian Lutheran chorale books.

Adalbert Wirkhaus has written orchestral pieces, works for piano and ensemble, vocal-symphonic works, choir and solo songs. Wirkhaus is an author of three operettas, Jaaniöö (Midsummer Night, 1911) on the libretto by Paul Pinna was the first Estonian operetta. He has published schoolbooks on music theory as well: "Chords and their natural resolution" ("Akkordid ja nende loomulik lahendamine", Tartu, 1925) and "Natural Study of Harmony" ("Loomulik harmooniaõpetus", Geislingen, 1949).

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