TALLINN PIANO FESTIVAL is the biggest piano festival in the Baltic and Nordic area being organised by the Estonian State Concert Institution Eesti Kontsert. The festival started in 1998, on the initiative of its founder and former artistic director pianist Lauri Väinmaa who wished to introduce exceptional pianists to the Estonian music audience, as well as to familiarise the locals with new trends on the global music arena. Another idea was to honour the format of a traditional piano recital practised for as many as 150 years.
The Tallinn International Piano Festival is a unique piano week. The festival attracts the greatest number of visitors of any festival of classics in Estonia, making it a prestigious event to perform at. The festival has a special aura – an attraction that draws a large audience from many neighbouring countries.Tallinn is an enchanting historic city, its mediaeval Old Town listed in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Between concert visits, one can gleefully roam the medieval streets, relax in cafeterias, and gaze at the stunning panorama of the city from the slopes of Toompea.
After the great success of the first Tallinn Piano Festival in 1998, it has developed in many directions. On the one hand, historic instruments have been introduced, like the clavichord, harpsichord and fortepiano. On the other hand, concerts of contemporary music take place: on prepared piano (Cage, Estonian pianist Kerikmäe), with the help of electronics (Stockhausen), and by incorporating human speech (Rzewski). There have been concerts of large piano ensembles, like those of the Estonian Piano Orchestra, where 8 pianists perform on four pianos. The festival is often opened and ended with orchestral concerts, where the sounds of piano concerts and piano music-inspired orchestral pieces are heard. The festival takes place every two years during the last week of October in the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn, the most important one in Estonia, featuring excellent acoustics and first-class pianos.
Instruments available at Estonia Concert Hall
are 2 Grand concert pianos
Steinway & Sons model: D (Concert Grand)
no:597429 (2014, Hamburg) /no: 542946 (1997, Hamburg)
At some fifteen concerts that take place over the course of a week, grand international stars, young emerging talents, and crème de la crème of Estonian pianists perform. Many of them have become and remain favourites of our audiences: Nelson Freire, Stephen Kovacevich, Cyprien Katsaris, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Marc-André Hamelin, Angela Hewitt, Stephen Hough, Paul Lewis, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Piotr Anderszewski, Mihhail Pletnjov, Arcadi Volodos, Nikolai Luganski, Louis Lortie and Eliso Virsaladze. The artists listed are but a small portion of the more than 150 pianists who have performed at the festival. The festival has commissioned more than 10 new pieces from the following Estonian composers: Jaan Rääts, Jüri Reinvere, Tõnu Kõrvits, Peeter Vähi, Urmas Sisask, Helena Tulve, Mari Vihmand, Margo Kõlar, René Eespere and Ülo Krigul.
Exhibitions of piano and the history of piano music are an integral part of the festival. Since the exhibition of models by Yamaha and Estonia of the first festival, the production of different Estonian piano manufacturers over time have been displayed, as well as an exhibition of square pianos. The subjects of panel exhibitions have been The Development of Keyboard Instruments Through the Ages, The Piano Recital Through the Ages, World-class Pianists in Estonia, Chopin in Paris (an exhibit by Cité de la musique), Charles Rosen – a Musician and Thinker, Composers-Virtuosos Over the Ages, etc
Music education is an objective of the festival. Thematic concerts of students - rendition of the Goldberg Variations by J. S. Bach or Liszt's Etudes op. 1 by a group of young pianists take pace. Workshops by visiting artists play an important role. We support the participation of piano students and teachers as listeners from all over Estonia. The number of students and teachers gathered from all ends of Estonia has been around a few hundred people. Students and teachers can purchase discount tickets and passes of the festival.