Berklee Today

Berklee Beat:
Jeronimas Kacinskas Tribute Concert Slated for April 8

Also see the related story, The Long Way Home, reprinted online from the Spring 1992 issue.

Composer Jeronimas Kacinskas
Photo by Mark Small

On Sunday, April 8, 2001, at 3:00 p.m. in the David Friend Recital Hall, Berklee's Composition Department will present a special concert tribute to composer Jeronimas Kacinskas. At 93, he is Boston's oldest living classical composer and one of the city's best-kept musical secrets.

Berklee alumni of 1967 through 1986 became acquainted with Kacinskas during that time when he taught composition and conducting at the college. His reputation as a distinguished composer and conductor in his native Lithuania was well known to his students. Prior to WW II, Kacinskas was conductor of Lithuania's top orchestra, the Vilnius Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Vilnius State Opera, conducting 1,000 concerts. That ended when the Russian Army overran the country in 1944 and Kacinskas and his wife Elena fled their home on foot. They walked for several months covering nearly 600 miles before reaching American-held territory in Augsburg, Germany. They came to the U.S. in 1949. [The Spring 1992 issue of Berklee Today carried a detailed story.]

The April 8 concert will feature music from Kacinskas's past and present, including his Nonet (1938), his String Quartet #4 (1997), and his latest composition, 2000 Year Anniversary of Jesus Christ's Holy Message to the People (2000).

The Kacinskas Nonet has a colorful his-tory. It is one of the few surviving pre-war works by the composer. The piece was premiered in 1938 at the International Society for Contemporary Music festival in London alongside premieres of works by Bela Bartok and Olivier Messiaen. During his harrowing escape from Lithuania, Kacinskas lost all of the manuscripts of his compositions. With the help of Czech alumnus Emil Viklicky '78, string and woodwind parts to Nonet were located and retrieved from the shelves of a Czech archive in 1992 and returned to Berklee. Working with a computer, Professor John Bavicchi recreated a score and generated new parts to the 45-minute piece for its American premiere in 1993. Professor David Callahan will conduct a Berklee faculty ensemble in the April 8 performance of the work.

The acclaimed Esterhazy String Quartet, who will be in residence at Berklee that week, will be the performers in the Kacinskas String Quartet #4. Composed in 1997, the piece has received numerous performances in Lithuania and the United States. The program will also include Kacinskas's octet for brass titled 2000 Years Anniversary of Jesus Christ's Holy Message to the People, completed just a few months ago. Associate Professor Louis Stewart will direct a faculty brass ensemble in this work.

Admission to the concert is free. The David Friend Recital Hall is located on the first floor of the Genko Uchida Building at 921 Boylston Street.