Stasys Simkus

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Šimkus, Stasys


Born Jan. 23 (Feb. 4), 1887, in the village of Motiskiai, near Kaunas; died Oct. 15, 1943, in Kaunas. Lithuanian composer, conductor, and public figure.

In 1908 Šimkus graduated from the Warsaw Institute of Music, where he had studied organ; in 1914 he graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he had studied composition with A. K. Liadov, M. O. Shteinberg, and J. Vitol. He pursued advanced study at the Leipzig Conservatory in 1921 and 1922. In 1923, Simkus founded in Klaipeda a school of music that played a major role in musical education in Lithuania; among his students were J. Švedas and A. Baužinskas.

Šimkus made his most important contribution to the development of a national musical culture by directing choruses and by collecting, arranging, and popularizing folk songs. His own songs for solo voice and for chorus are based on folk music and have become part of the repertoire of many musical ensembles in the republic. Šimkus’ most important compositions include the opera The Village Near the Estate (1942), the cantata Farewell to the Homeland (1916), and the symphonic poem Nieman (1930). The Klaipeda School of Music has been named in honor of Šimkus.