Vardo Rumessen

April 01, 2011 

Vardo Rumessen (1942) was born in Tallinn, Estonia. After graduating Tallinn Music School in 1964 he was forced to serve in Soviet Army in Siberia for three years 1964-1967. In 1971 he graduated piano faculty at the Tallinn Conservatory from professor Bruno Lukk and Eugen Kelder. His diploma work was “Completed piano works by Mart Saar”. In 1973 he restored Rudolf Tobias’s Piano Concerto, the first Estonian piano concerto in Estonian music and performed it together with Estonian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi.

Today he is one of the best known Estonian interpreters and promoters of Estonian piano musi. Rumessen, who has frequently performed abroad – in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Canada, the US, Switzerland, Turkey, Italy, Russia, Japan and Australia , has been described as a “masterful” and “consummate” pianist, both “unique” and “competent”. An evening with Rumessen has been described as “a grand and memorable experience”, and his playing adjudged to contain “sensitive interpretation”, “dynamic power”, and “rock-solid technique”. “No matter how gentle or forceful, his touch is just as sensitive”, wrote one reviewer.

Rumessen has recorded the piano and chamber music of J. S. Bach, F. Chopin, S. Rachmaninov, A. Scriabin, R. Tobias, M. Saar, H. Eller, E. Oja and E. Tubin. He recorded a set of 3 CD-s with complete piano music by Eduard Tubin for Swedish company BIS in 1988, which was first recording of Tubin’s piano work. Together with Neeme Järvi, Rumessen was recognized as a master interpret of Eduard Tubin’s music. Eduard Tubin has to a high degree authorized Vardo Rumessen’s interpretations of his music. Rumessen performed the American premiere of Tubin’s Piano Concertino in 1993 with the Longview Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tõnu Kalam. Rumessen has performed works by Beethoven, Franck, Rachmaninov, Tobias and Tubin for piano and orchestra with the Estonian, Longview, Göteborg Symphony Orchestras, Orchestra Swiss Romande, Presidental Orchestra in Ankara, conducted by the late Peeter Lilje, Jüri Alperten, Endel Nõgene, Tõnu Kalam, Neeme Järvi, Paavo Järvi, Kristjan Järvi and Nikolay Aleksejev.

Rumessen has also performed frequently in ensemble with numerous Estonian singers, violinists, cellists and other groups. In 1988 he recorded a complete preludes by Heino Eller for Pro Piano Records, which has been highly evaluated by critics in US.

In June 2000 Rumessen performed piano music by Tubin and Rachmaninov in New York in Pro Piano Hall and in Moscow in Rachmaninov Hall.

Although Rumessen has achieved his success mainly as an interpreter of Estonian classical music, he has performed a lot of world music. He has a huge repertoire including a lot of piano music, especially by Chopin, Scriabin and Rachmaninov. His largest undertakings have been such as the complete J. S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Part I (1976), A. Scriabin’s 10 sonatas (1972), F. Chopin’s 27 etudes and 4 ballades (1979), J. Brahms’ 4 ballades, S. Rachmaninov’s 17 etudes-tableaux (1980, 1998) the complete piano works of E. Tubin (1977, 1988), the complete piano works by M. Saar (1982), H. Eller’s 29 piano preludes (1987, 1998), and more.

Rumessen is not only internationally recognized pianist, but also a musicologist with a vast knowledge of Estonian music. Since 1973 he is a member of Estonian Composer’s Society and honorary member of Estonian Academy of Music. He has published much Estonian music, by Rudolf Tobias, Mart Saar, Peeter Süda, Artur Kapp, Eduard Oja, Heino Eller and Eduard Tubin, which have naturally found a place in Rumessen’s repertoire as both soloist and ensemble player. Among other works he restored and published Rudolf Tobias’s monumental oratorio “Jonah’s Mission,” which was recorded by Neeme Järvi for BIS in 1995 and printed by Estonian Classics in 2008.

In addition, Rumessen has written many articles and has served as editor of several books on Rudolf Tobias, Mart Saar, Artur Kapp, Eduard Oja, Eduard Tubin and others. In 2001-2005 he was an artistic director of International Music Festival „Eduard Tubin and his Time“. Vardo Rumessen is a chairman of International Eduard Tubin Society and a editor in chief of Eduard Tubin’s Complete Works.