Mindaugas Bačkus (cello)

Sound recordings
Sound recordings

Cellist Mindaugas Bačkus (b. 1973) has musical pedigree: his grandmother Anelė Karaliūtė-Bačkuvienė was a soloist of the State Opera Theatre in the interwar period and later taught singing, his father Vyturys Bačkus played cello in the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre orchestra and taught cello in a music school. 

In 1991, M. Bačkus graduated from M.K. Čiurlionis School of Arts, where he studied with Romanas Armonas, in 1991–1998 pursued Bachelor and Master degrees at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, where he was a student of Prof. Rimantas Armonas. In 1999–2001, M. Bačkus continued his postgraduate studies under the tutelage of Prof. Ralph Kirshbaum and Prof. Karine Georgian at the Royal Northern College of Music (UK) earning Master Degree and Professional Performer diploma. In 2007–2009, the cellist returned to the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre where he earned Art Licentiate Diploma under Prof. Rimantas Armonas. In 2009, having received an ERASMUS scholarship, he honed his baroque cello skills under Prof. Viola de Hoog at the Utrecht School of the Arts (the Netherlands).

M. Bačkus started his professional career while still at school blazing many a different trail. However, his heart lies in chamber music, solo concerts and recordings. His wide music interests manifest not only in all-inclusive academic cello repertoire, but also in intensive search for expression means scrupulously ‘examining’ the 20th–21st-century music scores, delving in jazz projects or focusing on baroque cello idiosyncrasies (this instrument was the topic of his Art Licentiate dissertation). A wide range of performing styles imbues his artistic vocabulary with rich palette of colours showcased in daring imagination, vibrant and suggestive intonation, lush timbral tenor and well-judged stylistic atmosphere.

Both contemporary and early music have become certain leitmotivs in his solo and other music making: leading the orchestra, or playing in various chamber ensembles and orchestras. He is actively involved in early music projects – plays baroque cello, is a member of Baltic States Baroque Orchestra (lead. D. Stabinskas) and Brevis consort. M. Bačkus also appears in contemporary music festivals (Upbeat in Norway, MaerzMusik in Germany, Gaida, Jauna muzika, Iš arti, Marių klavyrai and Druskomanija in Lithuania), premiering works and often inspiring new ones. His two CDs (el cello, 2005; Pas De Deux, 2007) feature works mainly by Lithuanian composers written in recent decades, many of which are dedicated to M. Bačkus.

The cellist has given recitals and chamber music concerts in Lithuania, England, Scotland, Germany, Sweden, Poland, USA, Norway and France. As a soloist he appeared with the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre Symphony Orchestra, Latvian National Opera Symphony Orchestra, Lithuanian Armed Forces Orchestra, Camerata Klaipėda and Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra. He took part in a number of cello master classes: Holland Music Sessions led by Prof. Ralph Kirshbaum and Tsojoshi Tsutsumi (Bergen, the Netherlands), by Prof. David Geringas (Vilnius, Lithuania) and Prof. Aldo Parisot (Manchester, England), and baroque cello master classes by Prof. Anner Bylsma (Amsterdam, the Netherlands). In 2000, he received English Speaking Union scholarship and took part in Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (USA) where he collaborated with members of Tokyo and Vermeer string quartets, pianists John O’Connor and Boris Berman, and guitarist Eliot Fisk among others.

He also appeared in a number of international events including International RNCM Manchester Cello Festival (Great Britain), Klangspuren (Austria), as well as festivals in Lithuania – Sugrįžimai, Alternatyva, Nepaklusniųjų žemė, International Thomas Mann Festival, Pažaislis, Vilnius Jazz and Birštonas Jazz Festival. Considerable part of his artistic energies were invested in work in various orchestras such as World Youth Symphony Orchestra, Vilnius Chamber Orchestra, Baltic States Youth Symphony Orchestra (principal cello), Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra (concert tour led by Yehudi Menuhin), Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra (principal cello), Kremerata Baltica, Vilnius Festival Orchestra (under the baton of Yuri Bashmet) and Kamerata Klaipėda.

2003 marked the beginning of an important period in M. Bačkus artistic career – he joined Chordos String Quartet (whose member he was for 6 years), and in 2005 became a member of Disobedient Ensemble. The main emphasis of Chordos String Quartet lies on 20th – 21st-century repertoire, while abroad the ensemble most often represents contemporary Lithuanian music. Among the activities of the Disobedient Ensemble very important is The Land of Disobedient, annual International Chamber Music and Ecology Festival in Nida. In this weeklong event sharing the stage with various partners the Disobedient Ensemble gives an array of original programmes showcasing music, film, theatre, photography and diverse ecological actions.

In addition to these artistic veins, M. Bačkus also teaches cello in Art Faculty of Klaipėda University and E. Balsys Art Gymnasium in Klaipėda. Three years ago he became a permanent feature in the National Student Academy, an educational program for gifted children, organised by Mstislav Rostropovich Charity and Support Foundation Support to Lithuanian Children. In summer of 2009, the cellist revealed one more of his talents – became an artistic director of Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra. “I see the position of an artistic director of Klaipėda Chamber Orchestra as an opportunity to realise my own ideas and generate them together with like-minded people. I am looking for this excellent collective to discover music anew, and fathom new ways to control emotions of the audience”, said M. Bačkus in one of his interviews.

Lithuanian Composers

Valentinas Bagdonas

Andante funebre and  Scherzino for cello and piano

Prelude for Solo Violoncello


Little Fantasy


“Three compositions” for solo Violoncello

Osvaldas Balakauskas

Four pieces, for cello solo

Vidmantas Bartulis

Four Consolations for a Sad Cello and a Song Without Words / Keturios paguodos liūdnai violončelei ir daina be žodžių, for violin and  cello

Antanas Jasenka

“Frequency” for two cellos and tape (2002)

Vytautas V. Jurgutis

Two pieces for violoncello and piano

Arvydas Malcys

“Acoustic Abyss” four miniatures for cello and piano

"Horizon in Vertical" / Horizontas vertikalėje, for clarinet and violoncello (2004)

Algirdas Martinaitis

“Birds of Eden" / Rojaus pauksciai,  for amplified cello and tape

Onutė Narbutaitė

"June Music 1981" / 1981-ųjų birželio muzika, for violin and cello

R. Poškutė

“Invention 2” for flute and cello (1995)

Anatolijus Šenderovas

Sonata for cello and percussion

Juozas Širvinskas

Improvisation and Toccata

Vladas Švedas

"Loneliness" / Vienatvė, sonata

Gintaras Sodeika

Al Samoud for cello, percussion and tape (2003)

Chamber Works

David Baker

“Singers of Songs – Weavers of Dreams” for cello and percussion

Ludwig van Beethoven

Sonata for cello and piano No.2 in G minor, op.5

Sonata for cello and piano No.3 in A major, op.69

Sonata for cello and piano No.5 in D major, op.102/2

Duos (3) for Clarinet and Bassoon: in B flat major, in C major, in F major, WoO 27/1-3 (transcription for Violin and Cello by Friedrich Hermann)

Johannes Brahms

Sonata for cello and piano No.1 in E minor. op.38

Sonata for cello and piano No.2 in F major, op.99

Frederick Bridge

Sonata for cello and piano

Mikhail Bukinik

Fantaisie for cello and double bass

Claude Debussy

Sonata for cello and piano, L.135

Domenico Dragonetti

Duos for cello and double bass

Manuel de Falla

Suite Populaire Espagnole for cello and piano (arr. from "Popular Spanish Songs" by Kochanski)

Hans Gal

Divertimento for Violin and Cello, op.90, No.2

Edvard Grieg

Sonata for cello and piano in A minor, op.36

Arthur Honegger

Sonatine for Violin and Cello in E minor

Zoltan Kodaly

Duo for violin and cello op.7

Magnus Lindberg

Steamboat Bill Junior for clarinet and cello (1990)

Bohuslav Martinu

Duo for Violin and Cello

M. Osokin

Sonata for cello and double bass op.62

Sergei Prokofiev

Sonata for cello and piano in C major, op.119

Sergei Rachmaninov

Sonata for cello and piano in G minor, op.19

Vocalise for cello and piano, op.34 No.14

Maurice Ravel

Sonata for violin and cello

Camille Saint-Saens

Sonata for cello and piano No.1 in C minor, op.32

Alfred Schnittke

Silent Night / Stille Nacht, for violin and  cello

Hymn II for cello and double bass

Dmitri Shostakovich

Sonata for cello and piano in D minor, op.40

Mark-Anthony Turnage

“Sleep On” three lullabies for violoncello and piano

Heitor Villa-Lobos

“The Jet Whistle” for flute and cello

Karl Heinz Wahren

Nächtliche Tänze, for cello and double bass

Works for Cello and Orchestra

Ernest Bloch

“Schelomo” for cello and orchestra

Johannes Brahms

Double concerto for violin, cello and orchestra in A minor, op.102

Max Bruch

Kol Nidrei, for cello and orchestra, op.47

Edward Elgar

Concerto for cello and orchestra in E minor, op.85

Alexander Glazunov

Chant du ménéstral (Minstrel's Song) for cello and orchestra in F sharp minor, op. 71

Joseph Haydn

Concerto for cello and orchestra No.1 in C major

Concerto for cello and orchestra No.2 in D major, op.101

Édouard Lalo

Concerto for cello and orchestra in D minor

Arturs Maskats

Concerto grosso for violin, cello, percussion and orchestra

Sergei Prokofiev

Sinfonia concertante for cello and orchestra, op.125

Aulis Sallinen

Nocturnal Dances of Don Juan Quixote

Camille Saint-Saens

Concerto for cello and orchestra No.1 in A minor, op.33

Concerto for cello and orchestra No.2 in D minor, op.119

La muse et le poete for violin, cello and orchestra Op.132

Robert Schumann

Concerto for cello and orchestra in A minor, op.129

Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Variations on a Rococo Theme for cello and orchestra, op.33

Works for Cello solo

Malcolm Arnold


Johann Sebastian Bach

6 Suites a Violoncello Solo senza Basso, BWV 1007-1012

Dan Blake


Denis Brearley

Suite No.2 for unaccompanied cello

George Crumb


M. Gordon

“Industry” for amplified cello

Sofia Gubaidulina

Zehn Präludien for solo violoncello

Hans Werner Henze

“Serenade” for solo violoncello

Tigran Mansurian


Luca Pavan

“Lights of the Night Time” for amplified cello and computer (2003)

Pēteris Vasks

“The Book” for solo violoncello

BSM Trio. Henry Mancini - Peter Gunn

Concert at the Lithaunian National Philharmonic Hall, March 27, 2010


Symphonic Variations, Op. 78


Cello Concerto No.1, H.196


Enigma Variations, Op. 36


Soloist MINDAUGAS BAČKUS (cello)

Conductor KASPAR ZEHNDER (Switzerland)

Concert at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall, December 2, 2009


Nymphea Reflection


Chamber Music III: The Nocturnal Dances of Don Juanquixote for solo cello and string orchestra, Op. 58


Death and the Maiden (orchestral version)


Polimelika, concerto for electric cello and strings (premiere, commission of the Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009)


Artistic Director and Soloist MINDAUGAS BAČKUS (cello)

Concert in the Festival “Music of Changes”, 18th of September, 2009

“Nocturnal dances”

PETERIS VASKS “Book for Cello” for cello solo (1978)

STEAVE REICH “Clapping music” (1972)

KAIJA SAARIAHO “Nymphea Reflection” for string orchestra (2001)


ALGIRDAS MARTINAITIS Death and the Maiden (1997)

AULIS SALLINEN “Chamber Music III. The Nocturnal Dances of Don Juanquixote” (1986) for cello and string orchestra

Klaipeda Chamber Orchestra

Artistic Director and soloist – Mindaugas Bačkus (cello)

Conductor – Mindaugas Piečaitis

Concert at St.Johns' Church, 01 12 2006

Toru Takemitsu Requiem for strings

Julius Juzeliūnas „Gratitude”

Arvo Part ”Cantus”

Alfred Schnittke „Sutartinės”

Peteris Vasks ”Musica dolorosa” for solo cello and orchestra

Bronius Budriūnas „Softly softly Nemunėlis is flowing”

Balys Dvarionas „Little Star”

Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, conductor Vytautas Lukočius, Irena Milkevičiūtė (soprano), Mindaugas Bačkus (cello)