Alo Põldmäe

b. May 22, 1945, Tartu
Member of the Estonian Composers' Union since 1971
Member of the Estonian Musicological Society since 1998

Alo Põldmäe is a composer with intimate, lyrical and colorful mode of expression, in whose music can be come across with exciting timbres, warm melodies and constant energy of movement. Central part of his oeuvre is formed by instrumental chamber music in which he pays special attention to wind intruments. He has written also stage music, orchestral music, incidental music and music for children. He has often used nontraditional intrumentations considering the time – he was among the first ones who brought guitar works into Estonian music, also he is the author of Estonian first oboe concerto and percussion concerto. His early works are influenced by avant-gardism, later ones are simpler and more well sounding that are often characterised by continuous diving into a single status. Pervasive features in his works are nature impressions and everything of Estonian character (folk tunes, history, poetry).

Alo Põldmäe graduated from Tartu Music School in oboe performance with Jaan Hargel (1964) and Tallinn State Conservatory in composition as a student of Heino Eller (1970). He has worked as an editor of Estonian Radio music programme and oboe player in Estonian TV and Radio Symphony Orchestra (1968–1970), music coder in Estonian Radio computation centre (1970–1972) and music editor in studio "Tallinnfilm" (1972–1980).1980–1993, he was secretary in chief and vice-chairman of the Estonian Composers’ Union and 1993–2009, held the position of director and scientist of music deparment of Estonian Theatre and Music Museum. In 2009, Põldmäe founded Estonian National Piano Museum, and is its board member (from 2011). He has sung in ensemble Collage and Tallinn Chamber Choir.

From 1983, he has been active as a composition teacher at the Tallinn Music High School, later at the Georg Ots Tallinn Music School and Nõmme Music School as well, 2009–2015 he taught at the Heino Eller Tartu Music School. Many of his students are outstanding composers at present day: Tõnu Kõrvits, Helena Tulve, Mari Vihmand, Kristjan Kõrver, Ülo Krigul, Aare Kruusimäe, Liis Jürgens. He has given elementary teaching in composition for over 100 young musicians. He has published numerous articles, made broadcast series in Klassikaraadio, compiled songbooks, catalogues and albums. In 2016, publisher SE&JS gave out the album "Estonian Pianos" compiled and written by Alo Põldmäe.

A number of his works are written in cooperation with interpreters like Heiki Mätlik, Mati Kärmas, Jaan Õun, Lemmo Erendy, Kalle Randalu, Boris Björn Bagger, Heli Lääts, Villu Valdmaa, Tiiu Levald and Tallinn Piano Duo. Ballets are created in close collaboration with the director Ülo Vilimaa, chamber operas have been directed by Arne Mikk, Toomas Hussar and Hardi Volmer. Important foreign performances have been in Finland, Denmark and Germany.

Alo Põldmäe has been awarded the Annual Prize of the Endowment for Music of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia for longlasting fruitful pedagogical activity and remarkable contribution to research of music history (2005) and Heino Eller Music Prize for the outstanding longtime activity in keeping and introducing musical heritage of Heino Eller (2007). In 2022, Põldmäe was given the Order of the White Star 5th Class. His works have been published by Edition 49, Eres and SP Muusikaprojekt.

© EMIK 2008
Updated in October 2017

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