Aleksander Läte

12.01.1860 Pikasilla village, Aakre parish – 08.09.1948 Tartu
Member of the Estonian Composers' Union since 1945

Composer Alexander Läte, Rudolf Tobias’s contemporary, was a multi-active figure in Estonian music life in the beginning of the 20th century. His activities as choir and orchestra conductor, pianist, concert organizer and music critic contributed significantly the advancing of music life in Estonia.

Alexander Läte was born in 1860 in Pikasilla village, Aakre parish, in an innkeeper’s family. In 1879, he graduated from the Valga Seminar, worked thereafter as a schoolteacher in Puhja (1879-1883) and as a parish clerk and schoolteacher in Nõo (1883-1992 and 1897-1900). In 1895, he joined the Dresden Conservatoire, graduating in the field of choir composition with Felix Draeseke.
On his initiative, the first Estonian symphony orchestra was founded in 1900 in Tartu. Also, a male and female choir was set up and under conducting of Aleksander Läte, many popular symphony concerts were given. Together with Rudolf Tobias, Läte prepared performances of a number of large-scale vocal and symphonic works, including J. Haydn's Creation, G. F. Händel's Judas Makabeus and more. As an active choir conductor, Läte was founder of a number of smaller choirs, he was also one of the general conductors in the 4th Song Festival.

Läte was also the first Estonian professional music critic. In the years 1899–1917, he was occupied as music critic at Tartu newspaper Postimees. Also, he created and issued a number of books and treatises about singing technics and piano construction. Since 1932, he led Tartu piano factory Sprenk-Läte, where he among other things worked on improvements in design of piano construction.

The most important part of Läte’s creation consist of about 200 choir works. His best-known songs – Pilvedele [To the Clouds], Kuldrannake [Golden Shore], Laul rõõmule [Song to the Joy], Malemäng [Chess Game] – belong still to the repertoire of many choirs and they are often sung in most of Estonian Song Celebrations. Läte is one of the first solo song writers in Estonian music (songs Mälestus [Memory], Primula veris, Alpi lill [Alpine flower]), he has also written 5 cantatas (including Millal? [When?], Rändaja ja tähed [Wanderer and Stars]) and instrumental works.

© EMIC 2010

The texts on the EMIC's homepage are protected by the copyright law. They can be used for non-commercial purposes referring to the author (when specified) and source (Estonian Music Information Centre).