Works Discography

Heino Eller (1887-1970)

Heino Eller was one of the pioneers of contemporary Estonian music. His work forged an idiom fusing the classical and romantic traditions, modernism, and folk music inflections. Eller’s Homeland tune and the symphonic poem Dawn are often performed in Estonia and abroad. His Violin Concerto, string quartets, violin and piano works are often performed on concert programs.

Eller was above all a composer of instrumental music, and even his few vocal works are written as arrangements of instrumental pieces. About 40 works for orchestra and over 200 for piano make up the major part of Eller’s oeuvre. The better part of his orchestral music is made up of short pieces reflective of scenes from nature and expressionist moods – symphonic scenes and poems. The general characteristics of Eller’s idiom are an intimate, chamber-like style and a polyphonic texture rich in detail.

Heino Eller began his musical career at age 12 with the violin. In 1907, he entered St. Petersburg Conservatoire Prof. E. Krüger’s violin class, which he did not finish due to overtraining. From 1908–1911, Eller studied at the University of St. Petersburg’s faculty of law, but then returned to his vocation, entering the St. Petersburg Conservatoire’s composition department in 1913. During World War One, Eller served for a time in a military orchestra, concluding his studies at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire from 1919–1920 under professors Vassily Kalafati, Maximilian Steinberg and Mikhail Chernov.

From 1920–1940, Eller was a member of the music theory and composition faculty at the Tartu Higher School of Music, laying the foundation for the Tartu composition school, which was influential in Estonian music in the first half of the 20th century as well as later, and which counted Eduard Tubin, Eduard Oja, Olav Roots, Alfred Karindi, Johannes Bleive and the musicologist Karl Leichter among its adherents. From 1940 to his death, Eller was Professor of composition at the Tallinn Conservatoire, where Villem Kapp, Kaljo Raid, Boris Kõrver, Anatoli Garšnek, Leo Normet, Valter Ojakäär, Uno Naissoo, Arne Oit, Jaan Rääts, Heino Jürisalu, Arvo Pärt, Alo Põldmäe and Lepo Sumera were among his numerous pupils.

During his career Eller was awarded with many state prizes. In 1971, a Tartu music school – the former Tartu Higher School of Music, where the composer worked as Professor of composition from 1920–1940 – was named after Eller.

© Estonian Music Infromation Centre

facebook twitter email print


Dawn (Koit)
Fantasy in G minor for violin and orchestra
Night Calls (Öö hüüded)
Symphonic Legend
Symphony No. 2
Twilight (Videvik)
Violin Concerto in B minor
White Night (Valge öö), Symphonic Suite


Baltic Sounds

(Digital album)


ODE 1395-2

Released 01/2021

more info & buy

Heino Eller

Symphonic Poems

Night Calls

White Night



Estonian National Symphony Orchestra

Olari Elts, conductor

ODE 1335-2

Released 10/2019

more info & buy

Heino Eller

Violin Concerto

Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra

Symphonic Legend

Symphony No. 2

Baiba Skride, violin

Estonian National Symphony Orchestra

Olari Elts, conductor

ODE 1321-2

Released 11/2018

more info & buy