Focus on Estonia

The small country of Estonia is known for being a nation of singers and also one of the world’s most digitalized societies. These are two characteristic features of this year’s special guest country at the Rudolstadt Festival. Singing played a key role in 1991 when Estonia successfully campaigned for independence recognized by the Soviet Union for the second time (the first occasion being in 1918). Meanwhile, voting in the country’s now truly free elections takes place online. And in other respects, too, Estonia has some unexpected superlatives to offer, such as the oldest lighthouse in northern Europe (its construction began in 1504), the tallest spruce in the world (46.8 metres), and an art museum which tilts by 5.8 degrees – even more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

Although difficult to measure in facts and figures, Estonia’s profound attachment to nature feels even stronger. With the population of barely 1.3 million surrounded by water and forest, a love of mythology seems almost inevitable. It suffuses the music and the wide open countryside, and it’s not unusual for the sound of Estonian bands to float between archaic and experimental, visionary elements. Echoes of rural life are often transported into the 21st century by young artists for a strikingly young audience.

Whether it’s the country’s natural expanses or its embrace of high tech which makes ideas soar, Estonia shows extraordinary creativity in all genres, be it hard rock or classical music, jazz or folk. Since its contemporary music scene is doubtless the most vibrant and resourceful in the region, we just had to add it to the programme!


Photo Taaniel Malleus