Heimar Ilves

September 15, 1914 Domnino village, Orjoli Government, Russia – February 5, 2002 Tallinn
Member of the Estonian Composers' Union since 1945

Composer and pedagogue Heimar Ilves had a phenomenal memory, he was a philosopher with very deep and individual vision of world, and who highly evaluated the writings of Lev Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The number of his works with religious cognition is small – the six symphonies and two string quartets form the significant part of it.

Ilves’s works haven’t been much performed. Thanks to the activity of the conductor Roman Matsov, the Symphony No 2 (1964) reached most frequently the concert stages in the countries of the former Soviet Union and in the German Democratic Republic. Matsov considered Ilves as one of the greatest Estonian symphonists. The composing method of Ilves is notable – due to his unusual memory, Ilves simply wrote down music that was already completed in his head.

Heimar Ilves’s family came to Estonia in 1916. From 1932–1937, he studied piano with Theodor Lemba in Tallinn Conservatory and in 1937–1949, he continued his studies in composition at first with Artur Kapp and later with Prof. Heino Eller. In 1943, Ilves became the first one who received Evald Aav scholarship. In 1945, Ilves followed his mother, repressed by Soviet regine, to Urals, Russia, where he stayed till 1948.

In the years 1944–1945 and 1950–1965, Heimar Ilves worked as a music history pedagogue at the Tallinn State Conservatory. In his lectures, he put into practise his absolute memory and deep philosophical world vision. While speaking about cultural history and compositions, Ilves did not get influenced by the prescriptions of that time. This led to the dismissal of Ilves in 1965 by the political power. But in his home, so called "enlightening evenings" took place, where for example Arvo Pärt, Andres Mustonen, Jaan Rääts among others participated.

Since 2000, the Heimar Ilves Fund examines and promotes the heritage of the composer (chairman Arvo Purga).

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