Heino Eller

From Unearthing The Music

Heino Eller in the 1930s.

Heino Eller (7 March 1887 – 16 June 1970) was an Estonian composer and composition teacher.


Eller was born in Tartu, where he took private lessons in violin and music theory, played in several ensembles and orchestras, and performed as violin soloist. In 1907 he entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory to study violin. From 1908 to 1911 he was a law student. In 1920 Eller graduated from the conservatory, which had been renamed to Petrograd Conservatory. His younger brother was sculptor Aleksander Eller.

From 1920 to 1940, Eller was a professor of music theory and composition at the Tartu Higher School for Music. During this time he formed the Tartu school of composition, which gave rise to many composers, including Eduard Tubin. In 1940 he became a professor of composition at the Tallinn Conservatory and taught there until his death in 1970. He was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1967.

Eller was a teacher of composition. The school he formed in Tartu counterbalanced the so-called Tallinn school headed by Artur Kapp. Eller's pedagogical talent was very versatile. The list of his pupils offers the best proof of this: each of them has created a distinguished original style. Among his students were Eduard Tubin, Villem Kapp, Kaljo Raid, Boris Kõrver, Anatoli Garshnek, Leo Normet, Valter Ojakäär, Uno Naissoo, Arne Oit, Jaan Rääts, Heino Jürisalu, Arvo Pärt, Alo Põldmäe, Lepo Sumera, Boris Parsadanian, Alfred Karindi, Eduard Oja, Olav Roots and Karl Leichter.

Selected works

Eller primarily composed instrumental music. His symphonic works, especially Koit and Videvik, broke new ground for Estonian symphonic music. His musical language contains many national traits, but he was influenced by 20th-century styles as diverse as impressionism and expressionism.

  • Koit (Dawn), Tone Poem (1915–1918, 1920)
  • Videvik (Twilight), Tone Poem (1917)
  • Moderato sostenuto in D minor for voice, viola and piano (1921)
  • Elegia for harp and string orchestra (1931)
  • Concerto in B minor for violin and orchestra (1937)
  • Five Pieces for string orchestra (1953)


Heino Eller was married to pianist Anna Kremer, who was executed at a concentration camp by German occupational authorities in 1942 because of her Jewish ethnicity.


  • Mart Humal, Reet Remmel. Heino Eller in modo mixolydio. Tallinn: Eesti Teatri- ja Muusikamuuseum: SE&JS, 2008. ISBN 9985985648, ISBN 9789985985649

External links

Text adapted from Wikipedia