Leo Normet

September 17, 1922 Pärnu – December 27, 1995 Tallinn
Member of the Estonian Composers’ Union since 1945

Estonian musicologist, essay writer, pedagogue and composer Leo Normet’s oeuvre includes some successful operettas (e. g. Rummu Jüri and Lights in the Home Port) written together with Edgar Arro, that have reached a wide audience. In the works of the late art period the trivial character (operettas, songs) is replaced by the more intellectual expression (chamber music, opera Pear Tree). In it’s day a song "Holiday in Viljandi" from the operetta At Hermes’s Heels was more than popular. Well-known was also a children song Hello, Sun that sounded at the jubilee Song Festival in 1969.

Leo Normet took his first composition lessons from Eugen Kapp in Yaroslavl, where they both acted in the State Artistic Ensembles of the Estonian SSR during the 2nd World War. In 1950 Normet graduated from the Tallinn Conservatory in composition under Heino Eller. From 1948 to 1957 Normet worked as pedagogue at the Tallinn Music School, between 1949–1950 he was an executive of the Government of the Arts, 1950–1951, he worked as art director of the State Philharmonic Society of ESSR. Since 1954, Normet was music history pedagogue at the Tallinn State Conservatory, where he became an assistant professor in 1970 and a professor in 1991. Among his students there were Helju Tauk, Raili Sule, Tiina Õun, Andres Pung, Kaia Lattikas, Anneli Remme and Ilvi Rauna.

As a musicologist Normet was most known as a researcher of Jean Sibelius, he earned his PhD with a thesis Symphonies of Sibelius in Moscow in 1969. Beside Sibelius he studied Estonian and 20th century compositions and was interested in oriental music. Normet lectured as well at home as abroad, including in Helsingi, Vienna, Toronto, Sorbonne and Baltics. He participated in numerous international musicological seminars, collaborated with books of reference (ENE, “Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart”) and hosted the music shows in Estonian Radio and Television.

For his diverse activity, Leo Normet has been given the title of Estonian SSR Honoured Worker in Arts (1989), he was one of the founders and the first chairman of the Estonian Music Council (1992) and a holder of the honorary membership of Estonian Oriental Society (1983) as well. During the years 1984–1995 Normet lived in Viljandi, in 2004 a memorial tablet was placed on the wall of his house.

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