Hugo Lepnurm

October 31, 1914, Tsitre village, Kolga parish, Harjumaa – February 15, 1999, Tallinn
Member of the Estonian Composers' Union since 1944

Composer, church musician and pedagogue Hugo Lepnurm is known first of all as the most notable Estonian organist of the second half of the 20th century. He has composed music in several genres, including works for symphony orchestra, works for choir and orchestra, chamber and choral music. His most important sacral choral works are cantatas Redemption in Christ (1955) and Jehovah’s People (1950). In the Estonian church music culture, also his choral songs and arrangements, solo songs, 32 choral preludes for organ and 4 choral preludes for cello and others are featured. Hugo Lepnurm has written several studies relating to organs and musicology.

Hugo Lepnurm received his music education from the Tallinn Conservatory in organ with August Topman (1928–1934) and in composition with Artur Kapp (1932–1935). He upgraded his skills in organ in 1938–1939 in Paris in Ecole Normale de Musique with organists Marcel Dupré and Joseph Gilles. In 1936, Lepnurm started his pedagogical career at the Tallinn Conservatory as organ and solfeggio teacher, later as music theory and music history teacher. In 1941–1944, Lepnurm was mobilised to a labor battalion of the Soviet Army in the rear area, thereafter he participated in the work of the State Artistic Ensembles of the Estonian SSR in Yaroslavl. In 1945, he was elected as a professor at the Tallinn State Conservatory. In 1950–1958, Lepnurm was constrained to give up the pedagogical work since his religious views and activities were not acceptable by the communistic regime. At this time he was engaged as organist, composer and the head of the church music department of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church. Since 1958 up to the end of his life, he was related to the Estonian Academy of Music (since 1978 professor-consultant, since 1994 professor-emeritus). Many of Hugo Lepnurm’s students became professional organists: Helen Tobias-Duesberg, Rolf Uusväli, Tiit Kiik, Urmas Taniloo, Andres Uibo, Toomas Trass, Ines Maidre, Kadri Ploompuu, Ene Salumäe, Piret Aidulo, Kristel Aer, Aare-Paul Lattik and many others. Due to his constant activity as organist, many Estonian organs were extant. On the initiative and with the fervent participation of Hugo Lepnurm the series of records Estonian Organs were released, and thanks to that, many instuments in Estonian churches were repaired.

Hugo Lepnurm received the Award of the Estonian National Culture Foundation (1994) and has been awarded the Estonian State Cultural Award (1999). In 2005, the Hugo Lepnurm Music Society was founded.

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