Anthology of Song Festivals “Song Festival. Jannsen. Koidula“
It sometimes feels as if Estonians had been preparing themselves for centuries for the two-day get-together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the abolition of serfdom with a big singalong in Tartu on June 18, 1869, called the Song Festival. To mark this anniversary and the 150 years from the first Song Festival – a double jubilee – SE&JS Publishers and Tartu Municipality have joined hands to put together and publish a luxurious compilation.
Others have written about Estonian song festivals before now. This anthology will focus on the roots, paths and milestones of community singing that culminated in the first nationwide get-together, the day the Estonian nation was born in Tartu. Just as children have two parents, the same goes for the tradition of song festivals. Johann Voldemar Jannsen and his daughter Lydia Jannsen-Koidula played a historic role in the preparations for the festival, from choosing the repertoire to PR work, both very much aware of the importance of the event for the Estonian national awakening. Positive feedback served as inspiration to organize subsequent festivals and the process gradually evolved into a nationwide movement of song celebrations.
Today, song celebrations have become one of the most prominent expressions of Estonian culture and identity. The textual part of the album from Rein Veidemann links events dating back 150 years and more with the present time, so that a complete picture emerges of the song celebration as the biggest ritual of self-accomplishment and self-perpetuation of the Estonian people.
Collaboration between SE&JS Publishers, Tartu Municipality and the Tiigi Community Centre in Tartu started a few years ago with publication of the album “Miina Härma 150. Then and Now” in 2014. Competent assistants are vital for the success of any big project. Just like back then, the Estonian Theatre and Music Museum will lend a hand to put together this compilation.
The album with its working title “Song Festival. Jannsen. Koidula“ comes out in May 2019 with captions and summary in English.