Boris Kõrver

March 30, 1917 Tallinn – August 17, 1994 Tallinn
Member of the Estonian Composers' Union since 1944
Member of the Estonian Filmmakers Union since 1958

Composer Boris Kõrver is the Estonian greatest master of operetta and author of numerable popular songs. Boris Kõrver graduated from Tallinn private humanitarian gymnasium in 1936. He studied piano in Tallinn Conservatory with Eva Noorma-Raudkats and then privately with Artur Lemba. From 1937–1940, Kõrver studied economic science at the University of Tartu. In 1950 he graduated from the Tallinn State Conservatory in composition under Heino Eller. During the World War II Kõrver was mobilised to the Soviet Army, later he belonged to the State Artistic Ensembles of the Estonian SSR in Yaroslavl; the repertoire of jazz orchestra of that place was created and arranged mainly by him.

Boris Kõrver played piano in jazz orchestra "Kuldne Seitse" (Golden Seven, 1938–1941 and 1947–1950) and Tallinn Youth House Orchestra (1944–1947). He worked as a teacher of music theory subjects in Tallinn Music School (1950–1952) and conductor of Estonian SSR State Philharmony Wind and Light Music Orchestra (1952–1953). He was deputy chairman (1953–1966) and chairman (1966–1974) of the Estonian Composers’ Union. From 1974 he was active as a freelance composer.

Songs, choral music and 11 musicals and operettas form a main part of Boris Kõrver’s oeuvre. Also he has written music for films, symphonic music, incl. Violin Concerto (1951/1973) and music for children. Kõrver’s music is folksy and rich in melodies, with lyrical, intimate and warm colouring. His songs have stayed as evergreen songs in repertoire of many singers ("Tallinn, My Tallinn", "Kadriorg", "Surely Sea Makes You a Man", "North Coast Waltz" and many others). Popularity have falled upon his songs from operettas ("Beggar’s Song", "White Lady of the North", "Operetta Has Conquered the Mind") and films ("Returning", "Fisherman’s Song", "When the Lilac Blossoms", "Oh, You Boys"). His songs have gained prizes at the composition competitions and performed at the general song celebrations ("What do I Say about My Darling", "At Summer Night", "Let’s Go Camping, Pioneer!", "Happy Life", "Song of Tourists", "Song of Young Sailors" and others).

Boris Kõrver has been ascribed the title of Estonian SSR Merited Worker of Art (1955) and Estonian SSR People’s Artist (1965). He has got the State Prize of the USSR (1951), State Prize of the Estonian SSR (1949, 1950), Estonian Annual Music Prize (1975), Order of Friendship of Peoples (1977) and Aleksandr Aleksandrov Silver Medal (1976).

Kõrver’s songs have been published in compendiums (1961, 1965, 1967 (choral songs), 1977, 1987), his operetta melodies have been recorded on CD "Vallutanud meeli operett" [Operetta Has Conquered the Mind] (Estonian Borderguard Orchestra, 1999).

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