Edwin Geist (1902-1942), a German composer and musicologist,
has contributed greatly to Lithuania and Lithuanian music. His active work
and composition has earned him a position not only in German but also
Lithuanian music history.
Edwin Geist's life was short and dramatic. Being a descendant of Jewish
family from one side, his music was forbidden in Nazi Germany, while the
composer of monumental symphonic and chamber works, operas, librettist and
author of analytical articles himself was executed in Lithuania during the
Edwin Geist was born in Berlin on July 7, 1902. According to scholar
Reinhard Kaiser, the biography of Edwin Geist is very fragmentary. He worked
in Szczecin, Zürich, taught at the Berlin Conservatoire (Staatliche
Akademische Hochschule für Musik). In 1938 Edwin Geist left his motherland
and settled in Kaunas. Vladas Jakubėnas, a composer and editor of "Muzikos
barai" magazine, saw to it that German music become a part of Kaunas'
cultural life. Edwin Geist wrote articles for "Muzikos barai", and in 1940 "Pribačis"
bookshop has published his monography "Antikes und Modernes im litauischen
Volks" ("Rudiments of early and modern music in Lithuanian folk songs"). The
book focuses on sutartinės. Here the author compares early Lithuanian folk
music with early Greek music. A book "Lydai, Dienoraštis 1942" ("For Lyda,
Diary 1942") is yet another written legacy of Edwin Geist, written after
Nazis put his wife, pianist Lyda Bagrianskytė-Geist, in Ghetto.
Edwin Geist was executed in XI Fort in Kaunas on December 10, 1942.
While in Lithuania, Edwin Geist composed cycle of sketches "From Lithuania",
concert overture "Antacos", music for J.W.Goethe's drama "Faust", arranged a
number of Lithuanian folk songs, and wrote settings for Lithuanian poetry.
He also wrote two operas and German Requiem. After the WWII part of his
legacy was taken to Germany and lost, while several of his works were
preserved in Lithuania. Some of them are examples of stylistic synthesis of
Richard Wagner and Alban Berg, and also remind of Richard Strauss and Second
CD (38 min.)
Die Kleine Deutsche Totenmesse
(Requiem) für Orchester, Sopran und Tenorsolo, Knabenstimmen und gemischten
I. Chor der Toten an die Lebenden
V. Chor der Lebenden an die Toten
Kosmischer Frühling für Violine, Violoncello und Klavier aus
der Tanzpantomime (Mysterienspiel) „Das Tanzlegendchen“ – frei nach
Gottfried Keller [Kaunas July 1942]