Rimas Geniušas (1920-2012)

Sound recordings
Sound recordings

Rimas Geniušas (1920 08 28 Petrograd (presently Sankt Petersburg) – 2012 02 01 Vilnius) – a Lithuanian conductor, pianist, pedagogue. For more than 50 years he was associated with the Lithuanian Opera and Ballet Theatre where he premiered La traviata and conducted the legendary production 447 times.

R. Geniušas was born on August 28, 1920 in Petrograd (Russia) into a family of Juozas Geniušas, an illustrious pedagogue and author of history textbooks and several literary works, and Stasė Blaževičiūtė-Geniušienė. In 1921, the family settled in Kėdainiai, where the father taught at the gymnasium and the Lithuanian Teachers’ Seminary. In 1927, the family moved to Kaunas.

Since 1933, R. Geniušas with interruptions had studied at the Kaunas Conservatoire. However, after graduating from the gymnasium he decided to study the law at the Kaunas University, later the physics and mathematics at the Vilnius Pedagogical University. Nevertheless, in 1945 he graduated from the Kaunas Conservatoire, where he studied piano under Balys Dvarionas. While still a student at the Conservatoire he became interested in theatre and in 1942, yet without a degree, started working as an accompanist at the Kaunas Opera Theatre, was able to easily read any score; with the help of his colleagues he started studying conducting as well. In 1945, upon the agreement of the principal conductor Mykolas Bukša, R. Geniušas made his conducting debut in Rossini’s opera Il barbiere di Siviglia. After a successful debut the young conductor was entrusted with other opera productions.  In 1948, R. Geniušas graduated from the Kaunas Conservatoire one more time, this time as a conductor (under Mykolas Bukša). 

In 1949–1951, he honed his conducting skills at the N. Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in Leningrad (presently Sankt Petersburg) where he studied with S. Yeltsin, I. Musin and associate professor I. Alterman. Back in Lithuania he settled in Vilnius, for a period of time served as a conductor of the LSSR Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 1952, he returned to the Opera Theatre. Here he premiered J. Juzeliūnas’ ballet Ant marių kranto (On the Seashore), also conducted Verdi’s La traviata. In 1954, R. Geniušas was honoured with the title of the Distinguished Artist of the LSSR.

In 1958–1975 and 1991–1994 R. Geniušas served as the principal conductor of the Lithuanian State Opera and Ballet Theatre. He was associated with the Theatre until 1996. In 1964, as a consequence of the LSOBT’s tour in Moscow in 1963 where it presented Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, R. Geniušas was honoured with the title of the People’s Artist of the LSSR. Composer D. Shostakovich expressed his high admiration for this production.

At the Lithuanian Opera and Ballet Theatre the Maestro put on 31 premiere (27 operas, 4 ballets) among which there were eight opuses by Lithuanian composers: operas Duktė (The Daughter, 1960), Ave vita (1974) and Pilėnai (Defenders of the Castle, 1978, 1986) by V. Klova, Paklydę paukščiai (Stray Birds, 1967, 1969) by V. Laurušas, Buratinas (1969, 1984) by J. Gaižauskas, Piršlybos (Matchmaking, 1983) by B. Borisovas, and two ballets – Ant marių kranto (On the Seashore, 1953) by J. Juzeliūnas and Aistros (Passions, 1971) by A. Rekašius. Since 1952, R. Geniušas had led all premieres of La traviata and Pilėnai (Defenders of the Castle). He conducted La traviata 447 times.
In addition, R. Geniušas appeared as a pianist and symphonic conductor; toured abroad including the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, opera theatres in Leningrad, Warsaw, Erfurt and Sofia, appeared at the Verdi Festival in Italy. In total, the Maestro conducted 1932 productions. He was the first conductor to lead M. K. Čiurlionis’ symphonic poem Jūra (The Sea, 1956) and Verdi’s Requiem (1966) after the war. 

In 1949–1998, R. Geniušas taught at the Lithuanian State Conservatoire (presently the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre), in 1975–1991 he served as the head of the Opera Department at the Conservatoire, in 1982 he was granted the professorship. He authored books Dirigavimas ir Lietuvos dirigentai (Conducting and the Conductors of Lithuania, 1973) and Operos solisto pratimai (The Exercises of the Opera Soloist, 1985). In 1996, the Maestro was decorated with the 3rd Class order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas.

R. Geniušas died on February 1, 2012 in Vilnius at the age of 92. Buried in Vilnius Antakalnis cemetery.


J. S. Bach

„Coffee Cantata“, BWV 211 (1976)

G. Bizet

„Carmen“, (1972)

B. Borisovas

„The Matchmaking“ (1983)

L. Delibes

„Lakmé“ (1955)

G. Donizetti

„Don Pasquale“ (1977)

B Dvarionas


J. Gaižauskas

„Buratinas“ (1969, 1985)

G. Gershwin 

„Porgy and Bess“(1968)

J. Haydn

„La vera costanza“

V. Klova


„Pilėnai“(1978, 1986)

„Ave vita“ (1974)

V. Laurušas

„Stray Birds“ (1967)

P. Leoncavallo


J. Massenet


W. A. Mozart

„The Marriage of Figaro“ (1988)

M. Mussorgsky

„Boris Godunov“

S. Prokofiev

„The Love for Three Oranges“ (1963)

G. Puccini

„La Boheme“ (1951)


S. Rachmaninoff

„Aleko“ (1966)

„Franesca da Rimini“ (1966)

N. Rimsky-Korsakov

„The Tsar's Bride“ (1952)

G. Rossini

„The Barber of Seville“ (1945, Kaunas Theatre, 1956, 1991)

R. Shchedrin

„Not only Love“ (1973)

P. Tchaikovsky

 „The Queen of Spades“ (1958)


„Iolanta“ (1962)

G. Verdi

„Don Carlos“(1959)

„Les vêpres siciliennes“


„Rigoletto“ (1969)

„La Traviata“ (1974, 1980, 1992)


J. Gruodis

 „Jūratė ir Kastytis“

J. Juzeliūnas

„On the Seashore“ (1953)

A. Rekašius

„Passions“ (1971)

Concert Repertoire

J. S. Bach

Concerto in D minor

Concerto for Cembalo and String Orchestra, in D minor: allegro. Adagio. Allegro (1-3)

E. Balsys

„Bright horizons“

M. K. Čiurlionis

„The Sea“, symphonic poem

A. Glazunov

Symphony No. 5

Symphony No. 6

J. Juzeliūnas

„Heroic Poem“

Concerto for voice and orchestra

V. Klova

Concerto for violin and orchestra

D. Milhaud

Scaramouche, suite for two pianos

N. Rimsky-Korsakov



P. Tchaikovsky

Symphony No. 4

Symphony No. 5

G. Verdi

„Requiem“ (1966)

“He set himself extremely high standards. Dignified leader of wide horizons and idiosyncratic thinking he effortlessly earned the esteem of the theatre collective. He won his reputation by intellect rather than heart or eloquent hand gestures. Having been sagacious psychologist and solid music theoretician he was able to not only read the signs in the score but also their hidden meanings and describe them felicitously.”

Margarita Dvarionaitė about Rimas Geniušas.