Margarita Dvarionaitė (1928-2008)

Sound recordings
Sound recordings

Margarita Dvarionaitė (1928 05 31 Liepaja (Latvia) – 2008 03 14 Vilnius) – a Lithuanian musician, the first Lithuanian female conductor of symphony orchestra, pianist, pedagogue and publicist.

Margarita Dvarionaitė was born on May 31, 1928 in Liepaja to a family of pianist, organist and technician of instruments Kazimieras and Klaudija Dvarionas. Margarita was a second daughter in a family. The composer Balys Dvarionas was her uncle. Growing up surrounded by music she started playing piano at a very young age.
Her father, who had studied piano under L. Dauguvietytė-Malko at the Petrograd (presently Sankt Petersburg) Conservatoire, chaperoned Margarita into and instilled her with the love for music. Her second teacher was her aunt Julija Dvarionaitė-Montvydienė, one of the first soloists of the Opera Theatre where she appeared in the role of Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust. Her uncle composer and pianist Balys Dvarionas was also a big influence. She studied in Helene Herbeck-Hansen’s prestigious piano studio in Kaunas. In 1943, at the age 16 she made her debut as a pianist in J. Pakalnis’ ballet The Bride at the Kaunas Musical Theatre where she performed A la Chopin. Up to 1951, she played piano in the opera theatre orchestra. She was an outstanding pianist and accompanist.   

In 1947, she graduated from the Kaunas Gymnasium and in 1949 completed her piano studies at the Kaunas Conservatoire, where she was the first graduate of Jurgis Karnavičius. The same year she went on to study the organ and composition, and later – conducting to Leningrad (presently Sankt Petersburg) Conservatory. M. Dvarionaitė recalls, that “prof. Ilya Musin, conductor and the teacher of her main subject, was the first to hospitably open the door into the musical universe and assist in a recreation of previously only imagined atmosphere of the city.” While still a student, she conducted the Conservatory Opera Studio’s productions of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Verdi’s Rigoletto and was approved by the professors.

Creative career
In 1957, having completed the symphony orchestra conducting studies in Leningrad, she returned to Lithuania to be the first Lithuanian female conductor. She conducted symphonic music concerts to great acclaim in Vilnius and Kaunas. Before long she was invited to conduct at the Lithuanian State Opera and Ballet Theatre, where she led several opera and ballet productions in 1957–1961, including operas B. Dvarionas’ Dalia (1959), D. Auber’s Fra Diavolo, Ch. Gounod’s Faust, V. Klova’s Vaiva (1958), G. Verdi’s Rigoletto (1957) and P. Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, ballets E. Balsys’ Eglė, the Queen of Serpents, P. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. In 1961–1993, she served as a conductor of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra and also for a period of time – the principal conductor. She premiered opuses by Lithuanian composers: J. Juzeliūnas’ Passacaglia and Lullaby of the Ashes, A. Rekašius’ First Symphony, V. Barkauskas’ First Symphony, V. Paltanavičius’ Vilnius Watercolours. She also led the performances of J. Pakalnis’ Legend, J. Gruodis’ Prologue, etc.
Moreover, she was actively engaged as a pianist performing Lithuanian composers’ piano works and works for flute and piano (with flutist Augustinas Armonas).
In 1969–2000, she was on the faculty at the Lithuanian Conservatoire (presently Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre), in 1990 – joined the Conservatoire’s Kaunas Faculty.
M. Dvarionaitė’s conducting career embraced almost 34 years. She led orchestras in Moscow, Donetsk, Kharkov, Liepaja and Poland. According to her contemporaries, her interpretations stood out for colourfulness, temperament, contrasts and refined dramaturgy.
In 1975, for her contributions to the Lithuanian culture M. Dvarionaitė was granted the title of the Honoured Distinguished Artist of the LSSR.
In 1998, for her contributions to Lithuanian State as well as promulgation of the Lithuanian culture abroad and facilitation of Lithuania’s smoother integration into the world community she was decorated with the 5th Class Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas.
M. Dvarionaitė was not only a talented conductor and pianist, but also a publicist. In almost five decades, in particular during the years when she was not able to conduct anymore, she wrote over 160 articles on various topics (not only musical), often about undeservedly forgotten opera soloists, conductors, composers, architects and other representatives of the art world, as well as the departed artists. She was a regular guest of TV and Radio programs, the recollection events. Several last years she worked on the book A Pinch From the Past and the Present (the portraits of and the memories about the contemporaries; reviews, necrologies).  
She died on March 14, 2008 in Vilnius at the age 80; buried in Antakalnis Cemetery in Vilnius.

Written by Aldona Juodelienė


D. Auber

„Fra Diavolo“

B. Dvarionas


Ch Gounod


V. Klova


P. Tchaikovsky

„Eugene Onegin“

G. Verdi



E. Balsys

„Eglė Queen of the Grass-snakes“

P. Tchaikovsky

„Swan Lake“

Lithuanian Composers

E. Balsys

Concerto  No. 2 for violin and orchestra

V. Barkauskas

First Sypmhony

J. Gruodis

"The Dance of Life"


B. Gorbulskis

Concerto for trombone and orchestra

J. Juzeliūnas


„Lullaby of the Ashes“

A. Račiūnas

Danutė's Lullaby from opera „Marytė“, III p.

A. Rekašius

First Symphony

V. Paltanavičius

„Vilnius Aquarelle“

J. Pakalnis



Foreign composers

A. Ariosti

Sonata for cello and piano

C. Chaminade

Concertino for flute and orchestra (M. Dvarionaitė's transcription for piano), op. 107

H. Lepnurm

Concerto for organ and orchestra

W. A. Mozart

Symphony in G minor

„The Marriage of Figaro“ overture

Concerto for flute and orchestra No. 2, in D major

Symphony No. 38, in D major („Prague“)

S. Prokofiev


H. Purcell

„Love without Song“ (M. Dvarionaitė's transcription for flute and piano)

D. Shostakovich

Concerto No. 1 for cello and orchestra in E flat major, op. 107

P. Tchaikovsky

„Bogosloviju vas liesa“

Iolanta's arioso from opera „Iolanta“