Olev Sau

b. August 10, 1929, Kaunispäe village, Torgu parish – d. September 20, 2015
Member of the Estonian Composers' Union since 1969

Composer, choral conductor and pedagogue Olev Sau has written mainly choral songs (over 300) for all types of choirs. Several of them have been performed at the national song celebrations ("Homestead", "I knit a homely coat", "That I knew", "Finding the song", "Midsummer night’s fire", "Children of the land of sun", wind orchestra piece Festival Day). Songs of composer with roots of Saaremaa island often reflect topics of Saaremaa, the sea, the beach and the life of fishermen. Sau has taken plenteosly folk tunes as the basis of his instumental and vocal pieces, the most voluminous of them is "Folk tune arrangements after counties for female choir" (1985–2001). Sau’s oeuvre includes also few orchestral works, cantatas, 4 string quartets, sonatas and nearly 50 solo songs. Both choral and solo songs are often collocated into cycles and are written, with few exceptions, on texts by Estonian poets. His music is primarily lyrical, the mode of expression is polyphonical.

In 1954, Olev Sau graduated from Tallinn Music Scool in singing in Aleksander Arder’s class and Tallinn State Conservatory in choral conducting in Jüri Variste’s class in 1960 and composition under Heino Eller in 1967.

Sau was a singer (baritone) in State Academic Male Choir (1951–1961), worked as a teacher of choral conducting and music theory subjects in Tallinn Music School (1961–1971) and Tallinn Music High School (1965–1971) and as a pedagogue of music theory subjects in Tallinn State Conservatory (1971–1986). In 1960ies, he directed several choirs, Academic Male Choir of Tallinn Polytechnic Institute and mixed choir Laulik among others. He has compiled educational materials of solfeggio and harmony and made researches about Estonian music. Lately Sau has colored Estonian music story with books of verses with portraits of Estonian musicians (I Can’t Be Silent ["Ei saa mitte vaiki olla"] I-VI, 2005–2008).

For his songs, Sau has gained several prizes. "To singers", "Pine wood" and "Titmouse" got consolation prizes at the competiton for mixed choir songs held within Estonian Music Days Festival 1998, "Abyssus abyssum" got consolation prize at the competition for male choir songs held within Estonian Music Days Festival 1996. David’s Song No. 13 and David’s Song No. 83 (1991) achieved the 3rd place at the male choir song contest organised by Estonian Male Song Society. Cantata "School day" (1967) was ascribed consolation prize at the competition for children’s and youth songs.

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