In memoriam Urmas Sisask

Universe was created with love 13,7 milliards years ago. Stars, galaxies, planets, comets and other cosmic beings, including us, exist happily in great love. Human beings were created here to sense the love. Planet Earth is a magnet to life. Human being is born of stars and becomes to stars as well. Therefore I don't regard myself as a composer, rather transcriber of music. (Urmas Sisask)

Urmas Sisask started his composition studies at the Tallinn Music High School with Anatoli Garshnek, René Eespere and Mati Kuulberg. He continued in the composition class of René Eespere at the Tallinn State Conservtoire, from which he graduated in 1985.

Urmas Sisask’s oeuvre is rich of styles and genres, it is varying from sacred music to popular and even rap-like songs. Sisask has composed numerous works for piano, small- and large-scale choir works, chamber music, orchestral works. He has gained international recognition primarily with his choral music. Sisask has written choir songs, motets, oratorios, cantatas, masses and other sacred works. One of his most beloved choral compositions is Gloria Patri for mixed choir (1988) – cycle of 24 a cappella hymns.

  Urmas Sisask. Photo: Kaupo Kikkas

Sisask’s interest for astronomy was as old as his activity as a composer – his first astro-music works were created already in his childhood (piano cycle Cassiopeia for children), when he once happened to improvise on piano outdoors, exploring and admiring the starry sky. Since then, astronomy was his main source of inspiration. In addition to the astronomy, Sisask’s work have been influenced by composer’s interest in shamanistic cultures as well as Estonian runo-songs.

Urmas Sisask has been awarded the Cultural Award of the Republic of Estonia (1990), the Order of the White Star (Fourth Class) (2001), the Armorial Order of Järvamaa County (2001), the Estonian Defense Forces Special Service Cross (2004), Veljo Tormis’s Estonian Choral Music Grant (2007) and the Estonian National Culture Annual Award of Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) (2009), title of Musician of the Year of Estonian Radio (2010), Annual Prize of the Culture Endowment of Estonia (2010) and Estonian Music Council's Music Prize (2020).

Urmas Sisask’s last work was the choral piece Gloria Patri II, Op. 166 which was premiered in Stockholm in November 2022.