The History of Song Festivals

140 years ago J.V.Jannsen and Vanemuine Society started the tradition of Estonian Song Festivals in Tartu. Four times (in the years 1869, 1879, 1891 and 1894) people from all over Estonia came together to sing and play wind instruments. Although the honor of hosting Estonian General Song Festivals has been Tallinn’s for a long time, the birthplace Tartu has also started other song festival traditions – those of students’ song festivals (1956) and boys’ choir song festivals (1976).

In order to commemorate the tradition of song festivals, Tartu Song Festival Museum was opened in 2007 as a branch of Tartu City Museum. The Museum is situated in a historical building that was used by Vanemuine Society in the past. The exposition „Power of Song” contains three themes – history of the building, song festivals tradition and the birth story of Estonian national theatre.
You can also see and listen to a virtual guide to the history of general song festivals (by Kristiina Tael) in the museum. Some of it is available on this web page, too.