Music of Lithuania
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Music of Lithuania refers to all forms of music associated with Lithuania, which has a long history of the folk, popular and classical musical development. Music was an important part of polytheistic, pre-Christian Lithuania – rituals were accompanied by music instruments and singing, deeds of the heroes and those who didn't return from the war were celebrated in songs.
Music was very important part of ancient Lithuanian polytheistic belief. It is known that, at the start of the 2nd millennium, Baltic tribes had special funeral traditions in which the deeds of the dead were narrated using recitation, and ritual songs about war campaigns, heroes and rulers also existed.
First professional music was introduced to Lithuania with travelling monks in the 11th century. After the christianization of Lithuania in 1387, religious music started to spread, Gregorian chant was introduced. Travelling musicians arranged concerts in the manors and castles of the Lithuanian nobleman, local cappellas were founded.
It is known, that Anna, Grand Duchess of Lithuania, wife of Vytautas the Great which had diplomatic relationships with the Teutonic Knights, who sent her expensive gifts, including clavichord and portative organ in 1408. Daughter of Grand Duke of Lithuania Gediminas, Aldona, when married to Casimir III of Poland, 1325 took her palace orchestra to Cracow. It had musicians which played lute, zither and lyre.
The first opera (Dramma per musica) in Lithuania was staged in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in 1636. Marco Scacchi and Virgilio Puccitelli were the opera's impresarios. The appearance of the opera in Lithuania is quite early, especially considering the fact that Italian opera phenomena was formed at about 1600 and first opera staged in Paris was just before 1650.
In the 17th century in Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, three Italian operas were staged – all by palace composer Marco Scacchi, to librettos by Virgilio Puccitelli - Il ratto d’Elena (The Elena Kidnapping) (1636), L'Andromeda (Andromeda) (1644), Circe Delusa (Disillusioned Circe) (1648). The scenography and stage machinery was made by Italian architects and engineers Agostino Locci, Bartolomeo Bolzoni and Giovanni Battista Gisleni. The cultural life of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was especially intense during the reign of Sigismund II Augustus. The Vilnius residence was a place to host many chamber concerts, music and dance festivities and carnivals, and music has become an integral part of the public life of the Palace. Musicians from other countries, especially from Italy, were invited to Vilnius. Among the most notable was Hungarian composer and lutenist Bálint Bakfark, who came to Vilnius from Rome, Italian composer Diomedes Cato. Composer and lutenist Michelagnolo Galilei, brother of Galileo Galilei was playing in the court of Radvila in Vilnius in the 17th century. Approximately 100 musicians worked in Vilnius at the court of Mikalojus Radvila Juodasis, the Protestant Grand Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Palatine of Vilnius (1515–1565).
First printed Lithuanian book Catechismusa Prasty Szadei (The Simple Words of Catechism) in 1547 contained 11 religious hymns in Lithuanian with sheet music. Lithuanian jesuit Žygimantas Liauksminas (Sigismundus Lauxminus) published the first music handbook in Lithuania - Ars et praxis musica in 1667. It was a first book of the trilogy, devoted to Gregorian chant - other books include Graduale pro exercitatione studentium and Antifonale ad psalmos, iuxta ritum S. Romanae Ecclesiae, decantandos, necessarium. The books were published at the University of Vilnius - S.R.M. Academicis Societatis Jesu.
Recent findings - The Sapieha Album (Sapiegos albumas) and the Diary of the Kražiai Organist (Kražių vargoninko dienoraštis) demonstrated that the big part of the Lithuanian church music of the 17th century was directly influenced by the most prominent composers of Italy of that time - Girolamo Frescobaldi; Italian organ tablature notation prevailed, basso continuo was studied.
Lithuania and its turbulent history was a subject of operas long before the appearance of the national opera in Lithuania. Everardo II, re di Lituania (Everardo II, King of Lithuania), music by João de Sousa Carvalho, libretto by Gaetano Martinelli was written in 1782 to celebrate the birth of Pedro III, King of Portugal. I Lituani (The Lithuanians) - is an opera consisting by Amilcare Ponchielli to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on the historical poem Konrad Wallenrod written by Adam Mickiewicz. It premiered at La Scala in Milan on 7 March 1874.
One of the first professional Lithuanian musicians was Juozas Kalvaitis (1842-1900). He composed a four-voiced Mass in the Lithuanian language in Tilžė. In 1877, an oratorio The Creation by Joseph Haydn was translated to Lithuanian and performed in Vilnius. First national opera Birutė by composer Mikas Petrauskas (1873-1937), libretto - Gabrielius Landsbergis-Žemkalnis (1852-1916) was staged in 1906.
Lithuanian folk music belongs to Baltic music branch which is connected with neolithic corded ware culture. In Lithuanian territory meets two musical cultures: stringed (kanklių) and wind instrument cultures. These instrumental cultures probably formed vocal traditions. Lithuanian folk music is archaic, mostly used for ritual purposes, containing elements of paganism faith.
There are three ancient styles of singing in Lithuania connected with ethnographical regions: monophony, multi-voiced homophony, heterophony and polyphony. Monophony mostly occurs in southern (Dzūkija), southwest (Suvalkija) and eastern (Aukštaitija) parts of Lithuania. Multi-voiced homophony, widespread in entire Lithuania, is the most archaic in Samogitia. Traditional vocal music is held in high esteem on a world scale: Lithuanian song fests and sutartinės multipart songs are on the UNESCO's representative list of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Sutartinės (multipart songs)
Sutartinės (from the word sutarti—to be in concordance, in agreement, singular sutartinė) are highly unique examples of folk music. They are an ancient form of two and three voiced polyphony, based on the oldest principles of multivoiced vocal music: heterophony, parallelism, canon and free imitation. Most of the sutartinės' repertoire was recorded in the 19th and 20th centuries, but sources from the 16th century on show that they were significant along with monophonic songs. At present the sutartinės have almost become extinct as a genre among the population, but they are fostered by many Lithuanian folklore ensembles.
The topics and functions of sutartinės encompass all major Lithuanian folk song genres. Melodies of sutartinės are not complex, containing two to five pitches. The melodies are symmetrical, consisting of two equal-length parts; rhythms are typically syncopated, and the distinctly articulated refrains give them a driving quality.
Sutartinės can be classed into three groups according to performance practices and function:
- Dvejinės (“twosomes”) are sung by two singers or two groups of singers.
- Trejinės (“threesomes”) are performed by three singers in strict canon.
- Keturinės (“foursomes") are sung by two pairs of singers.
Sutartinės are a localized phenomenon, found in the northeastern part of Lithuania. They were sung by women, but men performed instrumental versions on the kanklės (psaltery), on horns, and on the skudučiai (pan-pipes). The rich and thematically varied poetry of the sutartinės attests to their importance in the social fabric. Sutartinės were sung at festivals, gatherings, weddings, and while performing various chores. The poetic language while not being complex is very visual, expressive and sonorous. The rhythms are clear and accented. Dance sutartinės are humorous and spirited, despite the fact that the movements of the dance are quite reserved and slow. One of the most important characteristics of the sutartinės is the wide variety of vocables used in the refrains (sodauto, lylio, ratilio, tonarilio, dauno, kadujo, čiūto, etc.).
Different vocal and instrumental forms developed, such as lyrical, satirical, drinking and banqueting songs, musical dialogues, wedding laments, games, dances and marches. From an artistic standpoint the lyric songs are the most interesting. They reflect the entirety of the bride's life: her touching farewells to loved ones as she departs for the wedding ceremony or her husband's home, premonitions about the future, age-old questions about relationships between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, and the innermost thoughts and emotions of the would-be bride.
War-historical time songs
Chronicles and historical documents of the 13th through 16th centuries contain the first sources about songs relating the heroics of those fallen in battle against the Teutonic Knights. Later songs mention the Swedes, there are frequent references to Riga and Battle of Kircholm; songs collected in the early 19th century mention battles with the Tatars. Songs from uprisings and revolutions, as well as sonf of Lithuanian anti-Soviet guerrilla resistance in 1945-1952 and songs of the deportees are also classified as wartime historical songs.
Calendar cycle and ritual songs
They were sung at prescribed times of the year while performing the appropriate rituals. There are songs of Shrovetide and Lent, Easter swinging songs, and Easter songs called lalavimai. The Advent songs reflect the mood of staidness and reflection. Christmas songs contain vocables such as kalėda, lėliu kalėda; oi kalėda kalėdzieka, while Advent songs contain vocables such as leliumoj, aleliuma, aleliuma rūta, aleliuma loda and others. There are several typical melodic characteristics associated with Christmas ritual songs, such as a narrow range, three-measure phrases, dance rhythms, a controlled slow tempo, and a tonal structure based on phrygian, mixolydian or aeolian tetrachords. Polyphonic St. John's Feast songs are commonly called kupolinės, which include refrains and vocables such as kupolėle kupolio, kupolio kupolėlio, or kupole rože.
Work songs vary greatly in function and age. There are some very old examples, which have retained their direct relation with the rhythm and process of the work to be done. Later work songs sing more of a person's feelings, experiences and aspirations. The older work songs more accurately relate the various stages of the work to be done. They are categorized according to their purpose on the farm, in the home, and so on.
- Herding songs. Shepherd songs are sung by children, while nightherding songs are sung by adults. The shepherding songs reflect the actual tending of animals, the social situation of children, as well as references to ancient beliefs. The raliavimai or warbles are also recitative type melodies, distinguished by the vocable ralio, which is meant to calm the animals. The raliavimai have no set poetic or musical form being free recitatives, unified by the refrains. Some warbles end in a prolonged ululation, based on a major or minor third.
- Haymaking songs. Refrains are common in haymaking songs. The most common vocable used is valio, hence — valiavimas, the term for the singing of haymaking songs. The vocable is sung slowly and broadly, evoking the spacious fields and the mood of the haymaking season. The melodies of earlier origin are similar to other early work songs while more modern haymaking songs have a wider modal range and are structurally more complex. Most are in major and are homophonic.
- Rye harvesting songs. The harvesting of rye is the central stage in the agricultural cycle. The mood is doleful and sad, love and marriage are the prevailing topics in them. Family relationships between parents and children are often discussed, with special emphasis on the hard lot of the daughter-in law in a patriarchal family. Rye harvesting songs have rhythmic and tonal structures in common, which attests to their antiquity. Their unique melodic style is determined by close connection to ritual and the function of the work. The modal-tonal structure of some of these songs revolves around a minor third, while others are built on a major tetrachord.
- Oat harvesting, flax and buckwheat pulling and hemp gathering songs. Oat harvesting songs sing of the lad and the maid, of love and marriage as well as the work process: sowing, harrowing, cultivating, reaping, binding, stacking, transporting, threshing, milling, and even eating. In addition to the monophonic oat harvesting songs of Dzūkija, there are quite a few sutartinės from northern Aukštaitija, which are directly related to the job of growing oats.
- Milling songs. The genre can be identified by characteristic refrains and vocables, such as zizui malui, or malu malu. They suggest the hum of the millstones as well as the rhythm of the milling. Milling was done by women, and the lyrics are about women's life and family relationships, as well as the work itself. Milling songs are slow tempo, composed, the melodic rhythm varies little.
- Spinning and weaving songs. In spinning songs the main topic is the spinning itself, the spinner, and the spinning wheel while weaving songs mention the weaving process, the weaver, the loom, the delicate linens. Some spinning songs are cheerful and humorous, while others resemble the milling songs which bemoan the woman's hard lot and longing for their homes and parents. The texts describe the work process, while the refrains mimic the whirring of the spinning wheel. There are also highly unique spinning sutartinės, typified by clear and strict rhythms.
- Laundering songs. Sometimes the refrain imitates the sounds of the beetle and mangle — the laundering tools. The songs often hyperbolyze images of the mother-in-law's outlandish demands, such as using the sea instead of a beetle, and the sky in place of a mangle, and the treetops for drying.
- Fishing and hunting songs. Fishing songs are about the sea, the bay, the fisherman, his boat, the net, and they often mention seaside place names, such as Klaipėda or Rusnė. The emotions of young people in love are often portrayed in ways that are unique only to fishing songs. The monophonic melodies are typical of singing traditions of the seaside regions of Lithuania. Hunting motifs are very clearly expressed in hunting songs.
- Berry picking and mushroom gathering songs. These are singular songs. Berry picking songs describe young girls picking berries, meeting boys and their conversations. Mushroom gathering songs can be humorous, making light of the process of gathering and cooking the mushrooms, describing the "war" of the mushrooms or their "weddings."
The rateliai (round dances) have long been a very important part of Lithuanian folk culture, traditionally performed without instrumental accompaniment. Since the 19th century, however, fiddle, basetle, lamzdeliai and kanklės came to accompany the dances, while modern groups also incorporate bandoneon, accordion, concertina, mandolin, clarinet, cornet, guitar and harmonica. During the Soviet occupation, dance ensembles used box kanklės and a modified clarinet called the birbynės; although the ensembles were ostensibly folk-based, they were modernized and sanitized and used harmonized and denatured forms of traditional styles.
The most important Lithuanian popular folk music ensembles included Skriaudžių kanklės, formed in 1906, and Lietuva. Such ensembles were based on traditional music, but were modernized to be palatable to the masses; the early 20th century also saw the spread of traditional musical plays like The Kupiškėnai Wedding.
Some of the most prominent modern village ensembles: Marcinkonys (Varėna dst.), Žiūrai (Varėna dst.), Kalviai-Lieponys (Trakai dst.), Luokė (Telšiai dst.), Linkava (Linkuva, Pakruojis dst.), Šeduviai (Šeduva, Radviliškis dst.), Užušiliai (Biržai dst.), Lazdiniai-Adutiškis (Švenčionys dst.). Some of the most prominent town folklore groups: Ratilio, Ūla, Jievaras, Poringė (Vilnius), Kupolė (Kaunas), Verpeta (Kaišiadorys), Mėguva (Palanga), Insula (Telšiai), Gastauta (Rokiškis), Kupkiemis (Kupiškis), Levindra (Utena), Sūduviai (Vilkaviškis). Children folk groups: Čiučiuruks (Telšiai), Kukutis (Molėtai), Čirulis (Rokiškis), Antazavė (Zarasai dst.).
Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (September 22 [O.S. September 10] 1875 in Varėna—April 10 [O.S. March 28] 1911 in Pustelnik near Warsaw) was a Lithuanian painter and composer. During his short life he created about 200 pieces of music. His works have had profound influence on modern Lithuanian culture.
Čiurlionis studied piano and composition at the Warsaw Conservatory (1894–1899). Later he attended composition lectures at the Leipzig Conservatory (1901–1902). His symphonic poems In the Forest (Miške) and The Sea (Jūra) were performed only posthumously.
The Čiurlionis String Quartet performs in Lithuania and abroad. Every several years junior performers from Lithuania and neighbouring countries take part in The Čiurlionis Competition.
Modern classical composers emerged in seventies - Bronius Kutavičius, Feliksas Bajoras, Osvaldas Balakauskas, Onutė Narbutaitė, Vidmantas Bartulis and others. Most of those composers explored archaic Lithuanian music and its harmonic combination with modern minimalism and neoromanticism.
Osvaldas Balakauskas (born 1937, Miliūnai) Graduated from the Vilnius Pedagogical Institute in 1961, attended Boris Lyatoshinsky's composition class at Kiev Conservatory in 1969. From 1992 to 1994 Balakauskas was ambassador of Lithuania and in 1996 he was awarded with the Lithuanian National Award, the highest artistic and cultural distinction in Lithuania. He is currently head of the Composition Department of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. His output consists of symphonies, concertos, chamber and instrumental music.
The New Ideas Chamber Orchestra NICO and Synaesthesis playing new academic music.
In 1996 Music Information Centre Lithuania (MICL) was founded. It collects, promotes and shares information on Lithuanian musical culture.
- Bronius Kutavičius 
- Juozas Gruodis 
- Stasys Vainiūnas 
- Kazimieras Viktoras Banaitis
- Vidmantas Bartulis 
- Feliksas Bajoras 
- Jonas Nabažas 
- Vytautas Barkauskas 
- Julius Juzeliūnas 
- Eduardas Balsys 
- Antanas Rekašius 
- Jeronimas Kačinskas 
- Giedrius Kuprevičius 
- Vytautas Bacevičius 
- Šarūnas Nakas 
- New Ideas Chamber Orchestra NICO
- lt:Justė Janulytė 
- Vytautas V. Jurgutis 
- Ričardas Kabelis 
- Dominykas Digimas 
- Rytis Mažulis 
- Faustas Latėnas 
- Algirdas Klova 
- Giedrius Puskunigis 
- Onutė Narbutaitė 
Although the first opera in Lithuania was staged just 30 years later after it appeared in Italy, the musical and cultural development was constantly interrupted with historical turmoils. The Russian invasion in 1655 was especially grueling - many manors were destroyed, Vilnius was looted and demolished. The war with Sweden was started as well. The period was called Tvanas (The Deluge). Eventually it led to a partition of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
In 1785 in Vilnius was the first city theatre created, which hosted operas as well. Musical life continued in the saloons of the aristocrats and nobleman. The house of singer Kristina Gerhardi-Frank and physician Joseph Frank was especially well known in Vilnius.
Development of national Lithuanian opera is related with national revival in the 20th century. Themes of the operas were taken from the national history or mythology. Lithuanian language was considered as language of singing. First Lithuanian national opera Birutė by composer Mikas Petrauskas was staged in 1906 in Vilnius City Concert Hall. After regaining the Independence of Lithuania in 1918 opera Gražina (1933) by composer Jurgis Karnavičius (1884 - 1941) was the first staged in a new Kaunas State Musical Theatre. It was followed in 1937 by the next opera of J.Karnavičius Radvila Perkūnas.
In Boston in 1924 Lithuanian emigrants music lovers staged opera by M.Petrauskas Eglė žalčių karalienė (Eglė the Queen of Serpents). Vytautas Klova (1926 - 2006) created mostly national operas - (Pilėnai 1955, Vaiva 1957, Duktė (The Daughter) 1960, Du kalavijai (Two Swords) 1965, Amerikietiškoji tragedija (An American Tragedy), 1968, Ave vita, 1974). Operas based on historical thematic were created by Julius Juzeliūnas (1916 - 2001) (Sukilėliai (The Rebels) 1957, banned by soviet censorship, staged only in 1977), B. Dvarionas (Dalia, 1958).
Bronius Kutavičius wrote operas Kaulo senis ant geležinio kalno (The Old Man of Bone on the Iron Hill, 1976), Strazdas – žalias paukštis (Thrush, the Green Bird, 1981), Lokys (The Bear, 2000), Ignes et fides (Fire and Faith, 2003), combining opera, ballet and oratorio.
Most notable Lithuanian opera singers: Kipras Petrauskas (1885 - 1968), Virgilijus Noreika (1935 - 2018), Vaclovas Daunoras (b. 1937), Irena Milkevičiūtė (b. 1947), Violeta Urmana (b. 1961). Other singers performing on international scenes are: Aušrinė Stundytė, Asmik Grigorian, Vaidas Vyšniauskas (Kristian Benedikt), Edgaras Montvidas, Justina Gringytė, Indre Viskontas. Liudas Truikys (1904 - 1987) was a renowned scenic designer. Prominent theatre director Eimuntas Nekrošius has staged several operas in Lithuania (Otello) and Italy (Macbeth). Fashion designer Juozas Statkevičius (b. 1968) created costumes for numerous operas.
The diversity of the modern national opera is represented by: Lokys (The Bear, 2000), Geros dienos (Have a Godd Day!, 2011), Cornet (2014), Post Futurum (2018), Prūsai (The Prussians, 2018). Modern opera Sun & Sea (Marina) (2019) was presented at Venice Biennale, Lithuanian pavilion and was awarded The Golden Lion for best national participation.
Currently operas are staged in Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, Vilnius City Opera, Kaunas State Musical Theatre, Klaipėda State Musical Theatre and by company Operomanija and by Lithuanian Opera Company of Chicago. Opera is a highly popular genre in Lithuania, collecting full halls. The annual NOA (New Opera Action) - contemporary alternative opera and multidisciplinary art festival is being organized in Vilnius.
In 1971, despite being behind the Iron Curtain in Soviet occupied Lithuania Kęstutis Antanėlis has staged a rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar - just one year after its album release. In 1973 composer Viačeslavas Ganelinas and a poet Sigitas Geda created a film musical Velnio nuotaka (Devil's bride). It is considered the first Lithuanian musical. In 1974 a musical Ugnies medžioklė su varovais (Fire Hunt and Beaters) (composer - Giedrius Kuprevičius, libretto - Saulius Šaltenis, Liudas Jacinevičius) was staged.
In Lithuania choral music is very important. Only in Vilnius city there are three choirs laureates at the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing. Vytautas Miškinis (born 1954) is a composer and choir director who is very popular in Lithuania and abroad. He has written over 400 secular and about 150 religious works.
The Communist government of the Lithuanian SSR criticized rock music, which was considered a decadent and corrupting cultural invasion from the West. The first local rock bands started to emerge around 1965 and included Kertukai, Aitvarai and Nuogi ant slenksčio (Naked On A Threshold) in Kaunas, and Kęstutis Antanėlis, Vienuoliai (The Monks), and Gėlių Vaikai (Flower Childs) in Vilnius, among others.
Radio Luxembourg was the most important source of information about the music on other side of the Iron Curtain. It was very common for Lithuanian hippies or band players to listen to this radio. Radio Luxemburg bears strong associations in Lithuania with the Romas Kalanta generation (Kalantos karta). Another means was to smuggle LPs of popular Western bands into Lithuania and copy them onto magnetic tape. The records then spread further by making recordings to the friends, classmates.
Unable to express their opinions directly, the Lithuanian artists began organizing patriotic Roko Maršai and were using metaphors in their songs' lyrics, which were easily identified for their true meanings by the locals. Postmodernist rock band Antis and its vocalist Algirdas Kaušpėdas were one of the most active performers who mocked the Soviet regime by using metaphors. For example, in the song Zombiai (Zombies), the band indirectly sang about the Red Army soldiers who occupied the state and its military base in Ukmergė. Vytautas Kernagis' song Kolorado vabalai (Colorado beetles) was also a favorite due to its lyrics in which true meaning of the Colorado beetles was intended to be the Soviets decorated with the Ribbons of Saint George.
In the early independence years, rock band Foje was particularly popular and gathered tens of thousands of spectators to the concerts. After disbanding in 1997, Foje vocalist Andrius Mamontovas remained one of the most prominent Lithuanian performers and an active participant in various charity events. Marijonas Mikutavičius is famous for creating unofficial Lithuania sport anthem Trys milijonai (Three million) and official anthem of the EuroBasket 2011 Nebetyli sirgaliai (English version was named Celebrate Basketball).
In the 1980s, rock bands Foje, Antis, and Bix made a big impact in Lithuania. Short-lived alternative rock group Šiaurės kryptis (The Northern Direction, 1986 - 1995) issued only one album Netiekto, but still considered one of the best groups of that time.
1986–1987 marked the appearance of the punk scene in Lithuania. Bands like Už Tėvynę (For the Fatherland), Genocidas Raudonajam Interventui (A Genocide for The Red Intervents), SKAT, and Erkė maiše were leaning towards the classic punk rock of the 1970s, while others like 33% kiaulių pakeliui į Vatikaną and Turboreanimacija were more inclined towards hardcore punk (HC) stylistics. Turboreanimacija can be regarded as the most influential hardcore punk band of Lithuania, which in its time was well received by fanzines such as Maximumrocknroll in the United States. Their first up-tempo albums reminded listeners of early records from Scottish hardcore punk legends The Exploited, while later Turboreanimacija embarked on the power-punk road. Turboreanimacija disbanded in 1997 after granting a cult status among the Lithuanian underground. Post-punk group Kardiofonas (1986-1989) was highly popular with its hit Kalėdinė eglutė (Christmas tree).
More recent acts of this genre are ska-punk band Dr.Green (who are famous for their numerous DIY activities and intensive touring through the punk scenes of Europe), street-punkers Toro Bravo and hardcorists Bora and Mountainside.
Origins of Lithuanian pop music are in music of the cafes and restaurants of temporary capital of Lithuania - Kaunas in the 1930s. It was called estradinė muzika (estrade-music), lengvoji muzika (light music) and the phenomena sometimes named as mažoji scena (the little stage). Pop music bands Kopų balsai (Sounds of the dunes)  (in the beginning influenced by Juozas Tiškus orchestra), created in 1957 and band Nerija, which started activity in 1970 became very popular in Lithuania.
From the 2000s on, one of the most popular band in Lithuania is SKAMP. Although some pop groups sing in English, pop music in Lithuanian language is very popular.
Electronic / Experimental / DJ
The group Saulės laikrodis created in 1976, Argo - in 1979, and D.A.17 created in 1986, considered the pioneers of electronic music in Lithuania. Classical composer Teisutis Makačinas issued his album Disko muzika (Disko music) in 1982 playfully using Moog synthesizer. Sound director of Argo, Orūnas Urbonas constructed sound synthesizers (quasi-moog) for the group needs. In 2002-2010 Pieno lazeriai (Milky lasers), produced by De-Phazz leader Pit Baumgartner, played in nu jazz style. Since 2004 RyRalio Djs became famous for quality house music.
- Sheep Got Waxed
- Ir Visa Tai Kas Yra Gražu Yra Gražu
- Arturas Bumsteinas
- Sraigės Efektas
- lt:Bjelle ir PERU
- Kamanių šilelis
- lt:Pieno lazeriai
- Golden Parazyth
- Solo Ansamblis
- Without Letters
- D.A.17 
- EXEM 
- Gediminas Žygus
- Gardens of God
- Spanxti 
- Girių dvasios 
- RyRalio  
- Ten Walls
- Junior A
- Beissoul & Einius
- The Machine (hardstyle musician)
Jazz was quite often mentioned in the press of Lithuania before the WWII. Back in Lithuania's first period of independence (1918-1940), the country was part of swinging Europe. Nearly every Lithuanian town had its own jazz band, and traditional jazz repertoire was performed by prestigious orchestras under the leadership of Mykolas Hofmekleris (violinist), Abraomas Stupelis (violinist), Danielius Pomerancas (violinist). Jazz was played in the modern cafés and restaurants of interbellum Kaunas - Konradas, Monika, Aldona, Versalis, Metropolis. In 1935 in the cinema Metropolitain, first concert of jazz orchestra took place. The jazz orchestra was assembled from leading musicians of Kaunas, most likely the basis was a band which played in the Konradas café in the Laisvės Alley. In 1940 in Kaunas Radio (Kauno radiofonas) was the first official jazz orchestra launched and led by Abraomas Stupelis. He is considered the pioneer of the Lithuanian big band. Mykolas Hofmekleris in 1932 was decorated with the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas for his activity in the field of music.
Soviet occupation destroyed much of the vibrant cultural life, cafes were closed, jazz was considered as an ideologically and politically charged music of the West. Jazz scene was active even during the years of Soviet occupation. First sign of revival was an orchestra of Kaunas Polytechnic Institute led by Juozas Tiškus. Juozas Tiškus formed a professional swing orchestra of 28 members. Juozas Tiškus is also considered one of the instigators of popular Lithuanian music. The real breakthrough would occur in 1970–71 with the coming together of the Ganelin/Tarasov/Chekasin trio, the alleged instigators of the Vilnius Jazz School. The trio, known also as Ganelin Trio or GTCh combined free jazz with elements of Lithuanian folk and classic music. Café Neringa in Vilnius and café Tulpė (former Konradas) in Kaunas became places for jazz lovers and players.
There are quite a few international jazz festivals in Lithuania:
Jazz bands and performers:
- Vytautas Labutis 
- Petras Vyšniauskas 
- lt:Saulės kliošas 
- Juozas Milašius 
- lt:Liudas Mockūnas 
- Dainius Pulauskas 
- Magic Mushrooms 
- Lithuanian Radio and Television Big Band 
- Kęstutis Vaiginis 
- Darius Rudis 
- Dalius Naujokaitis 
- Tomas Kutavičius 
- Kęstutis Lušas
- Rasa Serra
Music festivals and events
1924 saw the first Dainų šventė (The Lithuanian Song Festival), song festivals which were state-supported and helped to keep folk traditions alive; these were held every five years (every four since 1990). Similar festivals take place in Estonia and Latvia since the 1870s. The 1960s saw people rebelling against Soviet-controlled traditions, and led a roots revival that soon led to celebrations of Lithuanian identity in festivals and celebrations.
Lithuania is home to many folk music festivals. The Dainų šventė song festival is perhaps the most famous; it was first held in 1924, and has continued every five years since. Other major folk festivals include the Skamba skamba kankliai and the Atataria trimitai, both held annually; of historical importance is the Ant marių krantelio, which was held in the 1980s and was the first major festival of its kind. The Baltica International Folklore Festival is held in one of the Baltic states every year.
The GAIDA Festival, organised in Vilnius since 1991 is the largest and the most prominent festival of modern music in Lithuania and in all Baltic countries.
- Cronshaw, Andrew (2000). "Singing Revolutions". In Broughton, Simon; Ellingham, Mark; McConnachie, James; Duane, Orla (eds.). World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East. London: Rough Guides. pp. 16–24. ISBN 1-85828-636-0.
- Landsbergis, Vytautas. "www.vle.lt". Lietuvos muzika. Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos centras. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
- Jonynas, Ignas (1984) . "Vytauto šeimyna". Istorijos baruose (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Mokslas. pp. 47–50. LCC 84212910.
- "muzikos instrumentai Lietuvoje". www.vle.lt. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
- "Kultūros vakaras "Muzika Valdovų rūmuose"". www.valdovurumai.lt. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
- Kuzminskyi, Ivan. "On the influence of the Catholic Ivan Kuzminskyi musical culture of Lviv and Vilnius on partes polyphony at the end of the 16th and during the 17th centuries" (PDF). žurnalai.lmta.lt. Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. p. 17. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
For example, approximately 100 musicians worked in Vilnius at the court of Mikalojus Radvila Juodasis (Mikołaj “The Black” Radziwiłł), the Protestant Grand Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Palatine of Vilnius (1515–1565)
- Jūratė Trilupaitienė. "Keli XVIII a. LDK bažnytinės muzikos bruožai" (PDF). www.valdovurumai.lt. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- Vytas Nakas. "The music of Lithuania — a historical sketch". www.lituanus.org. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
- Nakas, Vytas. "THE MUSIC OF LITHUANIA — A HISTORICAL SKETCH". Retrieved 19 April 2019.
- "Sutartinės, Lithuanian multipart songs". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
Sutartinės (from the word sutarti – to be in concordance) is a form of polyphonic music performed by female singers in north-east Lithuania. The songs have simple melodies, with two to five pitches, and comprise two distinct parts: a meaningful main text and a refrain that may include nonce words.
- Cronshaw, pgs. 22 – 23
- "The Modern Music of Lithuania: Past & Present". www.mic.lt. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- "Conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla — a combination of flamboyance and steely poise". www.ft.com. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
On the podium she is a combination of flamboyance and steely poise. In person, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is just the same. When I meet the music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, she fills the room with her dynamism, punctuating our conversation with sudden bellows of laughter and effusive hand gestures. But there’s also a cool self-possession, a sense that this petite, immaculately turned-out Lithuanian conductor would never speak without careful deliberation. At just 31, Gražinytė-Tyla has the air of a veteran.
- "Classical Music in 2017" (PDF). bachtrack.com. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
- "Lithuanian wins best singer at International Opera Awards". www.lrt.lt. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
Lithuanian opera soprano Asmik Grigorian has won an International Opera Award as the best female singer of 2019 for her role in Salome at the Salzburg Festival.
- Gaidamavičiūtė, Rūta. "Bronius Kutavičius: By Fire and with Faith". www.mic.lt. Retrieved 1 December 2018.
Over the years, Bronius Kutavičius' ability to create an acoustic image of history has become widely acknowledged. It is therefore no coincidence that he was commissioned by the state to write a large-scale work commemorating the 750th anniversary of the coronation of Lithuania's first and only king, Mindaugas. The composer wrote Ignis et fides (Fire and Faith) for solo voices, reciters, choir and symphony orchestra, plus some folk instruments. This diptych will unite two dates of importance for Lithuania: the first mention of the name of Lithuania in historical sources, and the coronation of King Mindaugas.
- "Kutavicius: Lokys". www.classicstoday.com. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
On evidence here, Lithuanian composer Bronius Kutavicius (b. 1932) stands with the finest exponents of contemporary music from the Baltic republics and Scandinavia. His opera Lokys (The Bear) mixes the timeless atmosphere of Pelléas et Mélisande with the expressionist extremes of Wozzeck, if you can imagine such a thing, and does so with complete success.
- "HAVE A GOOD DAY! opera". vimeo.com. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
HAVE A GOOD DAY! Opera for 10 cashiers, supermarket sounds and piano by Vaiva Grainytė, Lina Lapelytė, Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė
- "Premjera: Onutės Narbutaitės opera "Kornetas"". mic.lt (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 4 November 2018.
Vasario 21 ir 22 d. LNOBT įvyks pasaulyje plačiai pripažintos lietuvių kompozitorės Onutės Narbutaitės operos „Kornetas“ premjera. Operą kompozitorė sukūrė pagal Rainerio Maria Rilke’s poemą „Sakmė apie korneto Kristupo Rilkės meilę ir mirtį“, kuri buvo ypač populiari Pirmojo pasaulinio karo metais.
- "Post Futurum at Lithuanian National Opera". www.rhinegold.co.uk. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
Gintaras Sodeika’s innovative new opera delights in the surreal, painting an unconventional picture of Lithuania’s history through opposing forces of Good and Evil, drawing together some highly original musical and dramatic ideas
- "The Prussians" (PDF). www.giedriuskuprevicius.lt. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
Prussia is a land, southeast of the Baltic Sea, that was inhabited by Prussians and western Lithuanians. Today, this part of East Prussia is sometimes called Lithuania Minor. The Prussians were one of the Baltic nations. For thousands of years the Balts formed a strong community bound together by ties of blood and kinship. From these Baltic tribes, at the end of the first millennium and the beginning of the second, there began to evolve the Prussian, Yotvingian, Lithuanian, and Latvian nations, of which only the last two were fated to survive. The Prussians were pagans who worshiped their own god, who lived in the sky, Perkunas the Thunderer, as well as the Sun, the Moon, and other deities. For religious rites they gathered at altars in groves.
- "Sun & Sea". Retrieved 13 April 2019.
- "Arthur Jafa, Lithuania Win Top Prizes at Venice Biennale". www.artnews.com. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
The Golden Lion for best national participation at the 58th Biennale went to Lithuania, which presented Sun & Sea (Marina), an opera about climate change by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė that is set on a manmade beach in a building on the outskirts of the Arsenale. It was selected from among about 90 national pavilions.
- "NOA". noa.lt (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 4 November 2018.
- Bendžius, Simonas. ""NUOGI ANT SLENKSČIO" – ROKO GRUPĖ, ŠOKIRAVUSI SOVIETMEČIO KAUNĄ". www.bernardinai.lt (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 19 October 2019.
- Tilvikaitė, Patricija. "Ir lietuviškas rokas padėjo Lietuvai atkurti Nepriklausomybę". www.universitetozurnalistas.kf.vu.lt (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 23 August 2016.
- "A. Mamontovas: "Roko maršai" buvo toks įrankis, koks dabar yra internetas". Kauno diena / LRT (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 12 March 2017.
- "Ukmergės karinis miestelis". Autc.lt. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
- "Knyga "Antiška" (II dalis): iki "Anties" lietuviai nežinojo, kas yra zombis (ištrauka, video)". Lrytas.lt (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 29 July 2013.
- "A. Mamontovas: padėsime galutinį tašką "Foje" istorijoje - LRT". LRT (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 6 October 2013.
- "A. Mamontovas: populiarumą išnaudoju geriems darbams - LRT". LRT (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- br. Arūnas Pranciškus Peškaitis OFM. ""Kopų balsai" - išlikti ne tik atmintyje". www.bernardinai.lt. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
- "Pirmosios lietuviškos elektronikos grupės "Argo" muzikantai sintezatorių susikūrė patys". www.lrt.lt. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
„O. Urbonas dirbo radijo gamykloje Kaune, todėl jam nebuvo sunku gauti įvairiausių detalių, reikalingų šiam instrumentui sukurti. Tai buvo vienbalsis sintezatorius (kvazimugas) su dviem generatoriais, juo negalėjai groti trumpesnių ar ilgesnių natų“, – pasakoja kompozitorius.
- "Moishe Hofmekler". www.mic.lt. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
- "Lietuviai Kariai Laisvajame Pasaulyje". partizanai.org. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
Smuikininkas Mykolas Hofmekleris vasario 2 d. atsiskyrė su šiuo pasauliu, sulaukęs 67 metų amžiaus. Kaip žinome, jis buvo vienas populiariausių kapelos vedėjų ir dažnai grodavo Lietuvos kariuomenei. Jis buvo apdovanotas DLK Gedimino or-denu. Prieš kiek laiko jis įgrojo Londone apie 40 lietuviškų plokštelių, nacių valdymo laikais buvo Dachau KZ stovykloje. Kilimo buvo iš Vilniaus krašto.
- "Žydų muzikai tarpukario Kaune: Leiba Hofmekleris". www.kaunomuziejus.lt. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
- "Daniel Pomeranz". www.mic.lt. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- "Kaunas pilnas kultūros:2016. Nuo peilio iki saksofono vienas žingsnis". issuu.com. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- "Lithuanian Jazz in Brief". www.mic.lt. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- "Džiazo maestro pagerbs kolegos". www.bernardinai.lt. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- "Legendiniai mažosios scenos artistai Moišė Hofmekleris, Danielius Dolskis, Danielius Pomerancas". www.semplice.lt. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- "Jazz in Lithuania". www.vilniusjazz.lt. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- "Lithuanian contemporary music". lithuanianculture.lt. Archived from the original on 15 June 2018. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
- "GAIDA". www.vilniusfestivals.lt.
- Budzinauskienè, L., Martinelli, M., Kunickytė, L., Makauskaitè, I., Tadarovska, G., Uzorka, M., Būrė, D. and Soriano, A. (2016). Opera „Everardas II – Lietuvos karalius“ (The Opera Everardo II - king of Lithuania), Vilnius: Nacionalinis muziejus Lietuvos Didžiosios Kunigaikštystės valdovų rūmai. ISBN 9786098061444 (in Lithuanian, Italian, English, Portuguese, Spanish)
- Leiserowitz, Ruth (2010): Jazz in Soviet Lithuania - a Nonconformist Niche. In: Jazz behind the Iron Curtain. Editors: Gertrud Pickhan, Rüdiger Ritter. Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien: Peter Lang, p. 183-190. ISBN 9783631591727
- Užukauskaitė, Lina (2018): Jazz in Lithuanian Literature. In: Jazz in Word. European (Non-)Fiction. Editors: Kirsten Krick-Aigner, Marc-Oliver Schuster. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, p. 365-382. ISBN 978-3-8260-6341-1
- Trilupaitienė, Jūratė; Būrė, Dainius (2010). Opera Lietuvos didžiųjų kunigaikščių rūmuose (Opera in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania), Vilnius: Nacionalinis muziejus Lietuvos Didžiosios Kunigaikštystės valdovų rūmai. ISBN 978-609-8061-01-7 (in Lithuanian, Italian, English, Polish)
- Music Information Centre Lithuania – The most comprehensive Lithuanian music database.
- Lithuanian Music Link - An English-language biannual newsletter, dedicated to Lithuanian music.
- Valdis Muktupāvels. Musical Instruments in the Baltic Region: Historiography and Traditions
- pakartot.lt - Playlists and discographies of Lithuanian music.
- Lithuanian Jazz in Brief
- Lietuvos džiazo federacija - publishers of the Lithuanian Jazz
- Lithuanian Metal Artists on last.fm
- electronicbeats.net - a look into Lithuania’s vibrant electronic music scene
- nationalphilharmonic.tv – The digital concert hall of Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society.
- Anthology of Lithuanian Ethnoculture (See "Folklore" Section.)
- Vilnius Hardcore – Ska Funk Rasta Punk Scene, Vilnius
- Djscene.lt – Lithuanian nightlife news, clubs, party pics, reviews, performers, music and much more.
- Margai.lt – Lithuanian folk – music, songs, instruments, dances.
- (in French) Audio clips: Traditional music of Lithuania. Musée d'ethnographie de Genève. Accessed 25 November 2010.
- (In Lithuanian) kaunasretrojazz.lt - archives about Kaunas jazz musicians in occupied Lithuania.
- (In Lithuanian) Kaunas pilnas kultūros, 2016. p 16 - chronology of the Lithuanian Jazz history.
- (In Lithuanian) - Lietuvos roko pionieriai - Pioneers of the Lithuanian rock
- (In Lithuanian) Rockopedia.lt - Lithuanian rock encyclopedia.
- (In Lithuanian) Džiazas Lietuvoje
- (In Lithuanian) Ars et praxis - An annual periodical of scientific articles on musicology
- www.modus-radio.com - comments about history of music of Lithuania and Lithuanian composers
- Lithuanian Ensemble Network - professional Contemporary Music organization connecting professional ensembles, soloists and conductors.