December 17, 1929, Tartu – November 15, 1993, Tallinn
Member of the Estonian Composers' Union since 1955
Composer and pedagogue Jaan Koha started studying music with his father and continued with piano lessons at the Tartu Music School from 1942 to 1949. He studied composition at the Tallinn State Conservatoire with Mart Saar since 1949 and with Heino Eller since 1951, graduating from conservatoire in 1954.
In 1950–1954 and 1958–1966, he worked as a sound engineer at the Estonian Radio and in 1954–1958 as a music theory teacher at the Tartu Music School. He was a consultant at the Estonian Composers’ Union in Tartu in 1957–58 and a secretary at the Estonian Composers’ Union in 1966–1980. From 1979 to 1993 Koha was teaching music theory at the Tallinn Pedagogical University.
The most numerous part of his compositions is formed by songs and choral works. His compositions also include many works for stage, symphonic pieces and music for film, plays and radio drama. His works are mainly optimistical, figurative and rhythmical, including epical moods and cheerful images. His style of expression is sparing, thereat valuating the proper dosage of the means of expressions. Musical figures are colourful, themes are full of contrast, texture is clear and connection to Estonian folklore is noticeable.
Among all choral works one finds patriotic, lyrical, dramatic and humorous songs. Koha bears in mind the abilities and interests of children. He prefers texts of his contemporary poets. With his three symphonies, he is rightfully a considerable symphonist.
Jaan Koha has received prizes in composition competitions. His Piano Concerto No 1 was played successfully all over the Soviet Union, the song cycle Five Birds (dedicated to Tiit Kuusik) received acknowledgement as well. His works have been recorded at the Estonian Radio and published in Tallinn, Moscow and St. Petersburg. Koha was given the honorary title of Estonian SSR Honoured Worker in Arts (1970), the Estonian SSR Prize (1975) and the Estonian SSR Annual Music Prize (1974).
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