Olev Oja's Biography Book

16 Dec 2023

olev oja raamat

"The initial idea to write a book about Olev Oja's achievements and history ignited 38 years ago on his fiftieth anniversary. Unfortunately, it only remained a thought for a long time, as Olev consistently responded negatively despite repeated offers. However, when we suggested the idea of compiling a book based mainly on photographic material, the process was initiated using a large box filled with photographs. When assembling the book, Olev's own extremely detailed home archive and picture collection were of great help. The work consisted of 22 chapters, 540 pictures and 320 pages, and it contains Olev's life through photographs."

Olev Oja and Veljo Tormis met in 1956 at the Tallinn Music School, when Veljo started working as a very young pedagogue and Olev studied choir conducting at the same time. In the classes, Olev stood out from the others with his activity and purposefulness - from there close cooperation and lifelong friendship began. Oja was later the chief conductor of the National Academic Male Choir for a long time and premiered more than 40 Tormis' works.

According to Olev, the first male choral works brought to Veljo in the early 60s had a rather simple sound language. As it went on, the more complex and exciting new works were born, for example "The Ballad of Mary's Land", "Hamlet's Songs" and "Litany to Thunder". He added: "Both of us, the choir conductor and the composer, developed together. There was no point in arguing with Veljo, everything was written in the notes and he knew how to express his wishes punctually. He became our own composer for the National Academic Male Choir (RAM)."

Tormis has said: "The list of my works related to Olev is impressively long - most of them were also commissioned by him. For example, when the 150th anniversary of "Kalevala" was approaching, a RAM concert tour was planned in Finland. Half a year before it took place, I sat down to start fulfilling the commissioned work and the large format "Kalevala 17.runo" was born, which has 628 lines of lyrics."

Veljo Tormis and Olev Oja were friends for the rest of their lives, and they visited each other closely as families, exchanged news and philosophized about music in general. We visited each other in Pedaspea and Kullamäe, recalled nice things and shared memories.

Today, December 16, is Olev Oja's 88th birthday anniversary.