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Special Vilnius route: Musical Vilnius tour

Musical Vilnius tour

Vilnius is famous not only for its symphonic or chamber orchestras, groups, soloists, or cosy concert halls, but also for the music that is played in churches and live in the streets. This is a city where music creates a fiesta.
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Special Vilnius route: Musical Vilnius
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1. Philharmonic
This is the former palace of City Hall and was built in 1902 in place of a Gothic Russian merchants’ inn. Today it is one of the most luxurious Historicism-style buildings in Vilnius. The Lithuanian National Philharmonic unites the best Lithuanian performers of music: the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, the M.K. Čiurlionis String Quartet, the Vilnius String Quartet, the chamber ensemble Musica Humana, and soloists. The Philharmonic organises symphonic and chamber music concerts, concerts dedicated to various composers and solo recitals, and concert series featuring Lithuanian and foreign groups and performers.

2. Oginskių (Ogiński) Palace
Gothic stone houses were already found here back at the beginning of the 16th century. In the 17th–18th centuries, they were bought by Ogiński noblemen. The palace, first built in the Baroque style and later reconstructed into a Classical building with large gardens, has remained practically unchanged to this date. The Youth Theatre and Lėlės (Puppet) Theatre occupy the building at present.

3. St. Casimir’s Church
The construction of the Church of St. Casimir ended in 1616. This church is one of the most beautiful Baroque monuments in Vilnius and was built according to the example of Il Gesu in Rome, but—differently from that church—with two main facade towers. The layout of St. Casimir is shaped like a Latin cross. In 1997, two pieces of installation art by Tarasovas, “Bells for St. Casimir”, was mounted in both towers of the church. They are two sets of pipes, each with 15 different tones. They emit various musical tunes even when a very light wind blows. After the 12 o’clock mass on Sundays, the church hosts concerts of religious music and contemplation. Music is performed by famous Lithuanian musical groups, organists, and soloists.

4. Town Hall
The Town Hall was established by a privilege granted by King Jogaila (Jagiełło) at the end of the 14th century as a symbol of investiture of self-government (Magdeburg) rights to the city. At the end of the 18th century, the Town Hall was reconstructed into a Classical building according to a design by the architect Laurynas Gucevičius. It served as storehouse for weapons and had a prison in the basement. An important role was played by merchant community halls, and city and merchant community treasuries. The Grand Hall had for a long time been famous for its acoustics; thus during Tsarist rule, concerts and performances were organised here. Today, official events, concerts, and exhibitions are held in the Town Hall.

5. M. K. Čiurlionis House
The house of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis in Vilnius is the place where the great Lithuanian artist lived and worked between 1907 and 1908. Here one can see the reproductions of Čiurlionis’ paintings and listen to his music as well as the music of other performers.

6. St. Johns’ Church
Jogaila (Jagiełło) started to construct St. Johns’ Church soon after Lithuania was converted to Christianity (1387-1426). Originally, it was a Gothic church and characteristic features of this style are still pronounced in its interior. In 1571 the church was taken over by the Jesuits and since then it has been part of the Vilnius University complex. St. Johns’ Church is one of the most beautiful churches in Lithuania. At present, various concerts and musical performances take place there.

7. Theatre, Music and Cinema Museum
The Music Division boasts an ample and diverse collection. Considerable volumes of materials about Lithuanian musicians have been accumulated at the museum. There is a rare collection of 18–19th century musical instruments, mostly comprised of mechanical musical instruments produced by the enterprise of the famous J. H. Zimmerman. A number of folk wind instruments and kankles (folk string instruments) made by local masters have been collected here, and there is a plentiful collection of violins, cymbals, accordions and concertinas. Another valuable part of the collection of the Music Division is comprised of vinyl and other types of recordings of national operas and other pieces by Lithuanian composers. Character costumes and other memorabilia of opera soloists and ballet artists are kept in the Art Division. Beside books and periodicals, there are copies of staged productions and notes in the museum library. There is also an impressive collection of playbills and posters from different periods of the 20th century.

8. Church of St. Catherine
This church built in the style of late Baroque and decorated with Rococo details was erected in 1625–1743. St. Catherine’s Church is the cultural centre of the municipality of Vilnius. Cultural events often take place in this church, which is renowned for its acoustic qualities. Ensembles established by the municipality of Vilnius, such as St. Christopher’s Chamber Orchestra, the choir Jauna Muzika, the boys’ and youth choir Ąžuoliukas, and other groups and solo performers rehearse and perform in this church.

9. Monument to S. Moniuszko
In the square next to St. Catherine’s Church and the Benedictine Monastery, there is a bust of Stanislaw Moniuszko (created by Boleslovas Balzukevičius (Bolesław Bałzukiewicz)). Moniuszko is a famous Polish composer who lived in Vilnius in 1840–1858.

10. Vilnius Teachers’ House
Ąžuoliųkas boys’ choir, Kankleliai folk music group, Concertino accordion quintet, and many other ensembles have their offices in the Vilnius Teachers’ House and also rehearse and perform there. Musical evenings and concerts are regularly organised there.

11. Monument to Frank Zappa
This monument (sculptured by Konstantinas Bogdanas) is dedicated to the famous American composer, guitarist and singer Frank Zappa. This performer, distinguished for his original works, is called the father of modern music. The music of Zappa is characterised by a psychedelic style and elements of parody, as well as combinations of rock, jazz, avant-garde, and electronic music.

12. Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre
The first opera performance took place as early as in September 1636 in the theatre of the palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in the Lower Castle. Starting from the 18th century opera and ballet performances also appeared in theatres of palaces of the nobility, high state officials Radziwills, Oginskis and Sapiegas. The first Lithuanian opera Birutė by the composer Mikas Petrauskas was staged on 6 November 1906 in Vilnius, in the current hall of the Philharmonic. In 1974 the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre moved to a new building in A. Vienuolio Street.

13. Congress Hall
The Vilnius Congress Hall decorates the capital by means of its “starry sky” illumination. Concerts of symphonic and chamber music, opera performances, and concerts by the most renowned performers from Lithuania and the rest of the world are held in Congress Hall. Performances by such renowned singers as Violeta Urmana, Serdej Larin, Sergej Leiferkus and others have been eternalised within the vaults of the Congress Hall. This venue is also popular among Lithuanian and international jazz and pop music performers. The international contemporary music festival Gaida (The Note) is usually hosted here.
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