Music plays a great role in shaping the national identity of Estonians. The song festival tradition, which began in the 19th century, has influenced the development of Estonian music culture from the very first song festivals until the present day. The large-scale song festivals and high-quality choirs are widely known and appreciated. Despite Estonia's small size, local music has made great strides in reaching the world's most dignified concert halls and stages. Today, Estonian composers, conductors, ensembles and performers are welcome at prestigious festivals and centres of musical life around the world. Estonian musicians are well-known. They are reliable partners and creative leaders.
The Estonian composer Arvo Pärt has been the most played contemporary composer in the world for many years, and this has also a great impact on the local music life. The composer’s creative heritage is being preserves and studied at the Arvo Pärt Centre (SA Rahvusvaheline Arvo Pärdi Keskus). In addition to Arvo Pärt, a significant number of Estonian composers, for example, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Veljo Tormis, Tõnu Kõrvits, Helena Tulve, Liisa Hirsch, and others, have gained international recognition.
We are proud of the conductors and music ensembles who, as Estonian cultural ambassadors, introduce our music culture around the world and bring home significant accolades, be it Grammy or Grammophone awards. We are also proud of their high placements in competitions and the tributes to our music that appear in the international media. The fact that several international representative organisations have entrusted Estonians with the organisation of their annual conferences and major festivals can also be seen as an endorsement the organisation of our musical life. Thus, in 2019, we hosted the World Music Days, the important event of the year of the ISCM –International Society for Contemporary Music, and in 2021, the annual conference and festival of the European Jazz Network will take place in Estonia for the second time.
- In the field of music in Estonia, there are almost 2,000 companies and institutions and about 7,000 people for whom music-related activities are their main activity and source of income.
- In Estonia, about 2 million visits are annually made to concerts.
Higher music education is provided at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, as well as at Tallinn University. In addition, musical education is provided at the Georg Ots Music School in Tallinn and the Heino Eller Music School in Tartu. Jazz and traditional music is taught at the Viljandi Culture Academy of the University of Tartu.
Estonian Music Council
A non-profit association uniting and representing music institutions and professional musicians, with 48 members as of spring 2020.
Estonian Music Information Centre
The main goal of the centre is to introduce and promote serious Estonian music both at home and abroad by collecting and disseminating information about Estonian composers and their works, music organisations and events, performers and musical groups.
A development centre and representative organisation established in 2014 to promote business and exports in the field of music. It offers various educational programmes and internship opportunities, as well as coordinates Estonia's representation at international contact events in the field of music. As of spring 2020, 76 music companies belong to Music Estonia.
Arvo Pärt Centre
The centre was founded in 2010 by Arvo Pärt and his family with the goal of creating opportunities for preserving and researching the composer's creative heritage in his homeland Estonia and in an Estonian-language environment.
Viljandi Folk Music Centre
An organisation that supports and organises extra-curricula folk music education and organises folk music concerts and the Viljandi Folk Music Festival.
The Instrument Foundation
The Instrument Foundation on the most successful provider of private funding for the cultural sector in Estonia today and assists talented musicians’ international careers by providing them with highly valued instruments made by prominent masters.
- Estonian Composers Union
- Association of Estonian Professional Musicians
- Estonian Performers Association
Other important unions and associations
Collective representative organisations
Last updated: 12.12.2020