Audronė Vainiūnaitė – a Lithuanian violinist, pedagogue
She was born on July 17, 1942 in Šiauliai into a family of a renowned Lithuanian composer Stasys Vainiūnas.
In 1960, she graduated from Vilnius Ten-Year Music School where she studied with prof. V. Radovičius. She continued her education at the Lithuanian State Conservatoire. In 1965, she graduated from P. Tchaikovsky Conservatoire in Moscow. The same year she became the first violin of the Vilnius String Quartet. In 1969, she completed her post-graduate degree in P. Tchaikovsky Conservatoire in Moscow, where she studied with prof. D Oistrakh. Upon returning to Lithuania she was actively performing as a soloist and a member of the Vilnius String Quartet.
In 1970, she honed her quartet performance skills under A Grigorian and V. Gvozdetsky at the in P. Tchaikovsky Conservatoire in Moscow.
In 1972, as a member of the Vilnius String Quartet she took part in the International Quartet Competition in Liege (Belgium), where the Vilnius String Quartet won first prize.
In 1986, she led the international violin master classes in Finland, in 1988 and 1989 – D. Oistrakh violin master classes in Vilnius, in 1991 – the violin master classes in the USA, in 1992 – the violin master classes in Spain. Since 1989, she has served as a professor at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.
1976 – the Distinguished Lithuanian Artist.
1979 – the Lithuanian State Prize.
1984 – the certificate of merit from the Supreme Council of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic for promulgation of Lithuanian culture abroad.
1999 – 4th Class Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas for promulgation of Lithuania abroad.
2002 – Dr. Antanas Rama Prize awarded by the Lithuanian Foundation.
2004 – the Lithuanian National Culture and Art Prize.
2005 – the Baltic Assembly Prize.
2012 – “Nešk savo šviesą ir tikėk” (Carry Your Light and Believe), the most prominent award established by the Ministry of Culture of Lithuania.
In 1965, she became the first violin of the Vilnius String Quartet. With the Quartet she has toured more than 50 countries annually giving around 80 concerts in Lithuania and abroad. Recorded 17 LPs, more than 10 CDs. The Lithuanian music archive houses over 100 recordings of the Vilnius String Quartet. She has represented Lithuania in international festivals and other prestigious events including “December Evenings” and “Northern Flowers” (Russia), Bregenz (Austria), Echternach and Bourlingster (Luxembourg), Cervantes (Mexico), Kuhmo and Naantali (Finland), “Liturgical Calendar” (Italy), “Schreyahner Herbst”, “Musica viva”, “Ukermerkische Woche” and “Schleswig Holstein” (Germany), University of Ohio (USA), Mill Hill (Great Britain), “Gaida”, Vilnius, Pažaislis and Thomas Mann (Lithuania) festivals, “Festival 38e Rugissants”, “Rencontres musicales le Pree”, “De Radio France et Montpellier”, Hector Berlioz, “West – East”, Pyrenees and “Lisztomanija” (France), “West Cork” (Ireland), Saaremaa Chamber Music (Estonia), all international string quartet festivals in Vilnius. She has appeared in such reputable venues as New York’s “Merkin Concert Hall”, “Weill Recital Hall” at the Carnegie Hall, Cleveland’s “Reinberger Chamber Hall” at the Severance Hall, Moscow’s P. Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, Leipzig’s “Gewandhaus”, Vienna’s “Musikverein”, Munich’s “Bayerische Rundfunk”, Toronto’s “Glen Gould Studio”, Grenoble’s “Salle Olivier Messiaen”, Salzburg’s “Mozarteum”, Metz’s “Arsenal”, Nancy’s “Poirel”, Bonn’s “L. van Beethoven Haus”, etc. Collaborated with illustrious Lithuanian and foreign musicians: T. Nikolayeva, V. Tretyakov, M. Pletnev, L. M. Lethiec, D. Geringas, P. Muller, Y. Bashmet, V. Fedoseyev, M. Rubackytė, G. Vainberg-Tatz, W. Bennet, G. Hartnagel and A. Noras.
With the Vilnius String Quartet she performed concert series “Young Lithuanian Talents and the Vilnius String Quartet”, “World Art Masters and the Vilnius String Quartet”, “Quartet Music by Lithuanian Composers”. In December 2000, the Quartet completed the gigantic series of 8 concerts “Complete String Quartets by Beethoven”, in 2001 – series of 6 concerts “Evenings of Romantic and Lithuanian Contemporary Music”, in 2003 – a unique series of 15 concerts “Chamber Music by the Countries of the European Union”, in 2005 – series of 5 concerts “Chamber Music by New Members of the European Union”. In 2007–08, presented series of 8 concerts “W.A. Mozart and Vienna”, in 2008–09 – series of 9 concerts “Quartet and Piano”.
The Vilnius String Quartet’s vast repertoire of over 450 works boasts more than 150 quartets by contemporary foreign composers and about 100 works by Lithuanian composers. The Quartet has performed all 83 string quartets by Haydn and Mozart’s entire output for string quintet. The Vilnius String Quartet was the first in Lithuania to revive and perform all works for string quartet by M. K. Čiurlionis. The ensemble is also an ardent promoter of opuses by foreign contemporary composers – Latvians, Estonians, Austrians, Germans, Russians, Finns, Swedes, Belgians, Americans, Hungarians, Czechs and Slovaks. The Vilnius String Quartet performed music by Jewish composers in Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. (1997) as well as in Colloquium of the European Council dedicated to Yiddish culture in Vilnius (1995).
In 2004, the LNK and TV1 channels broadcast a documentary “Vilnius String Quartet” by J. Matonis.
Mainly focusing on quartet music making, A. Vainiūnaitė also performs as a soloist and a member of piano trio. In addition to classical repertoire (Beethoven, Brahms, Hindemith, etc.) she regularly introduces concertgoers with chamber works by Ch. Ives, A. Schoenberg, B. Bartok, O. Messiaen, G. Enescu and G. Crumb. Upon her return to Lithuania from Moscow she has given solo concerts with Birutė Vainiūnaitė, Augustinas Vasiliauskas (violin and cello) and collaborated with orchestra: Brahms (cond. B. Dvarionas), L. van Beethoven (cond. J. Domarkas), L. van Beethoven Triple Concerto with P. Stravinskas and A. Vasiliauskas (cond. E. M. Izquierdo), L. Mozart (cond. J. Aleksa), P. Hindemith (cond. J. Aleksa), etc. Among the highlights of her career the violinist lists appearance with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra in D. Oistrakh violin master classes where she performed P. Nurdgren’s Violin Concerto and shared the stage with D. Oistrakh in Vivaldi’s Concerto in D minor. “From past concerts known as the first violin of the Vilnius String Quartet, she gave a surprisingly flawless performance conquering the audience with her expressiveness, idiosyncratic temperament and outstanding professionalism” wrote German critics after one of her concerts.
Many Lithuanian composers have dedicated their opuses to the violinist. The promulgation of Lithuanian music abroad is one her most important artistic aims. In 2013, in Grenoble (France) and Cairo (Egypt) A. Vainiūnaitė represented Lithuanian music culture in the events dedicated to Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Since 1989, she has served as a professor at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. In 1994–2012, she was on a faculty at the National M.K. Čiurlionis School of Art. Her disciples are actively involved in Lithuania’s cultural scene: as soloists and members of various ensembles and orchestras, as touring performers (A. Litvaitytė, A. Švagždytė, A. Murinaitė-Statkuvienė, R. Lipinaitytė, I. Baikštytė, I. Pranskutė, E. Kaunietytė, U. Petrauskaitė, E. Daunytė); are winners of prestigious international competitions (S. Venclovaitė, I. Eidukonytė, I. Sruogytė, G. Žukauskas, M. Augulytė, S. Tankevičius, D. Berezin, S. Venclovaitė, A. Jusionytė, G. Rudaitytė, M. Stručkova, G. Žarėnaitė, J. Juozapaitis, D. Jakštas), continue studies in the world’s celebrated schools. Many of them also pursue pedagogical careers (R. Lipinaitytė, I. Baikštytė).
More than 50 opuses by Lithuanian composers are dedicated to the Vilnius String Quartet. Together with the other members of the Quartet the violinist premiered and accomplished editions of all of them. The Quartet also made editions to almost 100 works by foreign composers and premiered them in Lithuania and elsewhere.
She has collaborated with a number of illustrious composers including H. Eder and G. Humel (Austria), I. Kurz (Czech Republic), J. Radzynsky (USA), K. Penderecki (Poland) B. Tchaikovsky and M. Weinberg (Russia), P. H. Nordgren (Finland), M. Edlund and J. Grandert (Sweden), M. Hegdal and A. R. Vigulf (Norway), P. Vasks (Latvia), as well as Lithuanians St. Vainiūnas, V. Laurušas, A. Šenderovas, J. Karosas, O. Narbutaitė, O. Balakauskas, A. Rekašius, J. Juzeliūnas and V. Germanavičius.
A. Vainiūnaitė led the violin master classes in Finland, D. Oistrakh in Vilnius, as well as Spain, Holland, the USA (California State University Northridge, music schools in Los Angeles, St Petersburg music centre and college in Florida), Russia (Nikel music school), Poland (Stalowe Wola music school), France (Dunkerque Conservatoire) and for Chatham music school teachers on their visit to the National M.K. Čiurlionis School of Art (Lithuania).
In 2009, she was a jury member in the 3rd Karosas Young Composers’ Competition;
In 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 – a jury member in the Lithuanian Chamber Music Performance Competition at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre;
In 2010 – a jury member in the 6th St. Vainiūnas International Piano and Chamber Ensemble Competition;
In 2012 – a member of organisational board for the European Chamber Music Academia at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in Vilnius;
In 2013 – a jury member in Arvids Noritis Baltic States String Quartet Competition (Latvia).