Palmira Breivytė-Skripkauskienė was born on July 9, 1929 in Panevėžys.
Her first piano teacher was Ona Petruškevičienė (a graduate of the Sankt Petersburg Conservatory). Later she continued her education under Aleksandras Domarkas and Sofija Petkūnienė. In 1948, she arrived in Vilnius to take the piano entrance exams at the Vilnius Conservatoire (presently the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre). On an advise of composer Jonas Bendorius, the director of the Conservatoire, she chose the harp as her major. Her first harp teacher was lrina Dandrė-Gusinskienė, a graduate of the Leningrad Conservatory, a former member of the Leningrad and Minsk symphony orchestras. Since 1949, Palmira had studied harp with L. Khetagurova, a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory.
In 1953, Palmira was one of the Lithuanian harpists who were the first to graduate from Vilnius Conservatoire. She was appointed to the Lithuanian State Opera and Ballet Theatre. The number of the productions she was involved in grew rapidly. Noteworthy was L. Minkus’ Don Quixote to which conductor Ch. Potašinskas invited her to perform a challenging harp part. After the successful premiere (1954) she was the only one to perform in this production throughout her career in the theatre.
In 1970, during the Tajikistan culture decade in Vilnius Palmira performed harp parts in the ballets Leili and Majnun and Don Quixote (principal conductor J. Abdullayev, featuring ballerina Malika Sabirova, the Peoples’ Artist of the SSSR). The same year she has performed in a premiere of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.
Long nurtured by director A. Rudaitis, the idea to stage Verdi’s opera Aida was realised on July 3, 1971, in the Kutuzov Square (presently S. Daukantas Square). Sadly, the interesting plan was amended by the unexpected death of the director, and the idea was brought to fruition by Vytautas Grivickas. Two harps (Palmira Skripkauskienė and Elena Rimkaitė) were positioned in the balcony of the Artists’ Palace, and the third harp was seated in the orchestra (L. Khetagurova). Seemingly, it was the first time in Lithuanian history that three harps were employed in one production. This production was considered to be the city’s most momentous cultural event (conductor V. Viržonis).
In 1971, Palmira proposed harpist Evelina Murmulaitytė to form a duo. The TV broadcast the duo’s debut on March 14, 1971. The TV also channelled six broadcasts of the duo’s collaborations with the leading opera singers V. Noreika, N. Ambrazaitytė, R. Tumalevičiūtė, etc. In addition to the aforementioned duo, the concert programme also featured trio (harp, flute and viola). Together with opera soloist Elena Chudakova the harp duo and flute (V. Šakura) performed excerpt from the opera Lakmé.
In 1979, Palmira Skripkauskienė became an accompanist and in 15 years has accumulated a repertoire of 30 different stage works. Successful and impressive tours in Moscow (1986) and Warsaw (1988) boosted the theatre’s confidence and made easier planning of international travels.
In 1989, Skripkauskienė was granted the title of the Distinguished Artist of Lithuania. Now she is up to the most interesting and most challenging period of her career: the German conductor Wolfgang Rosner as well as German cast and crew are staging Wagner’s magnificent opera Tannhäuser (extremely difficult harp part); the performing forces are preparing a world premiere of Andreas Pflüger’s innovative and colourful ballet Catharsis (cond. V. Viržonis). Both the orchestra and the harpist (due to the complicated pedalisation) worked hard in particular because after Lithuania regained Independence the theatre was getting ready to the appearance in Heilbronn (Germany 1991) where it earned a great acclaim; the same year they renewed the relationship with the Chicago Lithuanian Opera. It was agreed to join forces in staging of A. Ponchielli’s I Lituani. Palmira played in the premiere dedicated to the 35th anniversary of Chicago Lithuanian Opera. In the concert of sacred music she collaborated with singer Dana Stankaitytė, a member of the American-Lithuanian community, in Bach-Gounod’s Ave, Maria; in ballet concert she performed Saint-Saëns’ The Swan (featuring ballerina A. Gineitytė); in farewell concert she appeared in Beethoven’s Adagio for two flutes and harp.
1992 saw a memorable visit to Verdi’s native town Le Roncole (Italy) where the theatre took Nabucco (cond. G. Rinkevičius) and Don Carlo (cond. R. Geniušas). Verdi’s house, open windows, earthy flavour and uplifted music – all of the above intoxicated the listeners. Both operas featured two harps (P. Skripkauskienė and J. Baliūnienė).
In 1993, with the theatre company Skripkauskienė toured the Netherlands with the ballets Gisele and Coppélia were shown (cond. G. Rinkevičius).
In Savonlinna Opera Festival (Finland) the theatre showed Don Carlos and Lucia di Lammermoor (cond. J. Aleksa and G. Rinkevičius).
Since 1995, the theatre orchestra had three staff harpists: Jolanta Baliūnienė, Daiva Šlyžienė and Palmira Skripkauskienė.
1998 saw the premiere of M. Teodorakis’ ballet Zorba the Greek (cond. Martynas Staškus), which featured all the harpists (the score calls for 16 harps!)
During five decades of her work at the theatre Palmira Skripkauskienė performed in over 3000 theatre productions.
Operas: Tosca, La bohème, Madama Butterfly, Lohengrin, Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser, Eugene Onegin, The Queen of Spades, Boris Godunov, Prince lgor, Don Pasquale, Faust, Carmen, Aida, Otello, I Pagliacci , Kelionė į Tilžę (Journey to Tilsit), Paklydę paukščiai (Stray Birds), Kryžkelė (Crossroad), Pilėnai (Defenders of the Castle) and many more.
Ballets: The Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, La Sylphide, Raimonda, The Nutcracker, Le Beau Danube Bleu, Coppélia, Doctor Aybolit, Jūratė and Kastytis, etc.
She played under the baton of conductors Jonas Aleksa, Rimas Geniušas, Juozas Domarkas, Vytautas Viržonis, Gintaras Rinkevičius, Saulius Sondeckis, Martynas Staškus, Chaimas Potašinskas, lsaj Alterman, Algimantas Kalinauskas, Jonas Vadauskas, Margarita Dvarionaitė, Dalius Samėnas, Liutauras Balčiūnas, Julius Geniušas, U.Nissen, W. Rogner, R. Breuer, Alvydas Šulčys, Liudas Survila, Alvydas Vasaitis among many others.