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Harri Otsa

Harri Otsa was born on 6 November 1926 in Tallinn (Estonia). He started music studies with piano lessons at Niina Murrik-Polonsky’s piano school, and took private lessons from Theodor Lemba. In 1944, he was mobilised into German army where he got wounded and stayed in Germany until 1945. In 1946–1948, he studied music theory at the Tallinn Music School, and graduated from the Tallinn State Conservatory in composition with Mart Saar in 1953.
In 1953–1959, Otsa was the music director at the Tallinn Drama Theatre. From 1953–1962 he taught music theory at the Tallinn Music School and from 1962–1988 at the Tallinn State Conservatory (1982–1987 head of the theory department). For a short time he taught also at the Tallinn Music High School. Otsa has compiled educational materials as ''Estonian folklore'' (1967) and ''Harmonic Successions'' (1985).

His musical creation is often based on Estonian old and new folk songs and many of his compositions have a humorous and joyful character. From 1960's to 1980's he was the most productive chamber music composer in Estonia. He wrote obligatory pieces for instrumental and choral competitions.
His pieces have been performed by Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (conductors Roman Matsov and Peeter Lilje), numerous choirs (including performances at Song Festivals), Jaan Tamm Woodwind Quintet, ensembles Vikerlased, Kurekell, Kukulind and Pasunapoisid, interpreters Margarita Voites, Ines Rannap, Matti Reimann and many others. Many of his pieces were recorded at the Estonian Radio and printed mainly at Estonian sheet music collections.
In 2001, Harri Otsa awarded the V class Orden of the Cross of the Eagle.

Harri Otsa died on 30 October 2001 in Tallinn (Estonia).

(© biographical text by Estonian Music Information Center)

The Violin concerto by Harri Otsa was composed in 1983 and premiered on 4 April 1984 with Ülo Kaadu (violin) and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Peeter Lilje. The score was only available in manuscript so far, but with kind permission of the Otsa family I can present here the prepared full score for free download.

The Violin concerto by Harri Otsa is on my personal recommendation list of masterful violin concertos of the 20th century. It is a fabulous composition and deserves to be known widely!

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© Tobias Broeker