Biography

Robert Jürjendal
“Displaying a fantastically delicate touch and ability to unfurl a wide variety of melodic lines from a single harmonic point of departure, the man who released his acclaimed Sourced Of Joy a few years ago has the audience rapt, which is no mean feat given the size of the venue.
Having written for strings, harpsichord, brass and choir, Jurjendal clearly has a broad sonic outlook and his subtle evocations of a sound world beyond the guitar are mightily impressive.”

 

– Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise

 

Full Biography

Robert Jürjendal is an outstanding Estonian guitarist and composer. Apart from the solo and guitar ensemble repertoire, he has written music for male and chamber choirs, cembalon duo, string quartet and recorder trio. His composition style is influenced by electronic soundscapes, minimalism, classical, progressive rock, ambient jazz and old church music. He has written music for documentary and nature films, theatre productions and art exhibitions.  Robert teaches music and improvisation at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. He works as a freelance guitarist and composer.

In 2013 Robert recorded  his first solo album Source Of Joy, a project based on a variety of guitars and electronics.  In 2015 he released his second album Balm Of Light. Robert currently performs with Madis Metsamart (percussion), Liis Viira (harp),  Doris Kareva (poetry), Jaan Tammsalu (text)  and with his son Anti Jürjendal (cello). In October 2016 Robert released his third solo album SIMPLE PAST which features Andrus Lillepea, one of the most outstanding Estonian drummers.

Robert’s varied career as a muscian started  in 1981 at the Georg Ots Tallinn Music School where he studied  classical guitar and composition (with Anti Marguste). He  was interested in church, renaissance and medieval music, playing guitar and lute with different consorts. In 1985, after graduating Music School he turned more to the world of electric guitar and experimental music. Robert made his first recordings at the Estonian Radio Studios and at Tallinn Townhall Studios between 1986 and 1988. He worked together with Estonian engineers and musicians Maido Maadik, Indrek Patte, Margo Kõlar and Rauno Remme. Together with the excellent musicians Arvo Urb (drums, percussion) and Erki-Sven Tüür (keyboards) of the Estonian  prog-group In Spe,  Robert recorded an experimental  orchestral composition ”Turning”. During 1987-1988, Robert and Arvo formed a duo named Pajuke. Together with bass player Alari Piispea and guitarist Riho Sibul, the duo became soon a quartet. In 1989 Robert was introduced as a multi-instrumentalist by Taivo Niitvägi to legendary Estonian rock singer and songwriter Tõnis Mägi. Later the same year, Robert performed with the Tõnis Mägi Group to thousands of people at the Rock Summer 1989 Festival. In the same year Tõnis Mägi, Arvo Urb and Robert Jürjendal  formed together an ethno-rock group named 777  where Robert’s role was both as guitar player and a songwriter. The group performed in Estonia, Finland and France.

Between 1992 and 1997 Robert Jürjendal took part in the Guitar Craft Courses in Grossderschau, Germany. These unique guitar seminars were lead by guitarist Robert Fripp, who is best known for his work with King Crimson. Robert Jürjendal completed his GC courses with a tour with The Berlin Guitar Ensemble, through Germany in 1997.

In 1993, Robert Jürjendal, Mart Soo and Tõnis Leemets formed a group called Weekend Guitar Trio which became Robert’s most successful group for decades.  It consists of players with backgrounds in classical guitar/Guitar Craft method, electronic music and jazz/free improvisation, respectively. They have performed at countless jazz festivals all over Europe, had compositions written specially for them by Estonian and German composers, and presented their own compositions at contemporary music festivals.WGT won first prize at the Lausanne International Guitar festival (1995).

In the end of 90’s Robert and a wellknown Estonian accordeon player  Henn Rebane formed the New Folk Duo,which focused on Estonian traditional music.  Their collaboration culminated in an album Eesti asi (2003).

Fragile was formed in 1997 as a performance project together with Robert Jürjendal, Arvo Urb and an artist Tõnu Talve. The aim of this collaboration was to connect improvisational music and painting. Fragile performed in Estonia, Portugal, Udmurtia, and played/recorded together with Evelin Saul, Riho Sibul, Tõnis Leemets, Lotte Jürjendal, David Rothenberg, Tarvi Laaman and Nadia Utkina. Fragile has released 4 albums: Manifest (1998), Appletree in Osaka (2000), Saad (2004), Uchke Ali (2008).

UMA,  a duo consisting of Robert Jürjendal and trumpet and corno da caccia player Aleksei Saks was formed in 2007. At first glance the instrumentation might suggest their music might be a sparse jazzy affair; yet the integration of live electronics and processing makes their sound float somewhere between post-rock, ambient, electronica and the subtle, cool tones of ECM-style jazz.

UMA has released 4 albums: Civitas Soli (2008), Hymn To Undiscovered Land (2010) feat. Tim Bowness (vocal), Andi Pupato (percussion), Meeting Unknown (2012) feat. Iris Oja (vocal), Andi Pupato and Peidus Pool (2013) feat. Iris Oja, Anzori Barkalaja (poetry)

Slow Electric Initially formed to play three dates at the 2010 Estonian Jazz Festival. Slow Electric is a new project from Tim Bowness and Peter Chilvers (keyboards) and the Estonian duo UMA (guitarist Robert Jürjendal and trumpeter Aleksei Saks).

Quartet to the End of Time (Modus Novus 2012): “The group, made up of four guitarists, took its name from Olivier Messiaen’s famous composition and was formed in the year of his hundredth birthday. However, there is no claim made to be related to him or his music in any way.” – Markus Reuter. The guitarists: Robert Jürjendal, Tõnis Leemets, Markus Reuter, Mart Soo.

Three Corners Of The World (3Corners Of The World 2007) is an improvisational music project with Robert Jürjendal (guitar, electronics), David Rothenberg (clarinet, voice, computer) and Petri Kuljuntausta (live sampling, electronics).

This Fragile Moment (This Fragile Moment 2009) is an eclectic musical assemblage fronted by the charismatic English vocalist Toyah Willcox. Predominantly improvised live-in-the-studio performances by Toyah, bassist Chris Wong (of Toyah’s other current project The Humans), producer & touch guitarist Markus Reuter, plus the members of Estonian duo Fragile: Arvo Urb (drums, percussion) and Robert Jürjendal (guitar).

Suurõ’ Pilvõ’(Big Clouds 2009) is: Celia Roose – voice, harmonica, bagpipe, Norwegian flute; Tuule Kann – voice, Estonian zithers, Jews harp; Robert Jürjendal – guitar, live electronics. The Estonian folk/ambient trio Suurõ Pilvõ was formed originally in 1997. They have been focused on old Estonian traditional folk songs and instrumental music combined with guitar, live electronics and soundscapes.

Robert Jürjendal has collaborated also with Jan Bang (live sampling) Narrative from the Subtropics (2013).

Five Seasons (2013) is a project featuring Volkmar Zimmermann (classical guitar), Sara Fiil (soprano voice), Robert Jürjendal (guitar, composition), Aleksei Saks (corno da caccia) and Madis Metsamart (vibraphone). In 2013 Five Seasons performed at the Estonian Music Days Festival, Tallinn, Estonia.

Robert Jürjendal (guitar, electronics ) & Kaido Kirikmäe (acoustical effects, electronics) is a duo focused in ambient music and soundscapes.

 

Music for documentaries:
“Sundasunik” dir. Rein Maran
“Rannaniitude laulud” dir. Ago Ruus
“Black With Red” and “Lanswood Gardens” dir. Pawel Kuczynski (Poland)
“The Measure of Man” dir. Marianne Kõrver

“Hoidmise vägi” dir. Riho Västrik

“Woman And the Glacier” dir. Audrys Stonys, Studio Vesilind

“Come Back Free” dir. Ksenja Ohhapkina, Studio Vesilind

Music for short films:
“Teispool vihma“ dir. Margus Paju
“Igatsus” dir. Steve Cute (USA)

Music for theatre:
“Elvis oli kapis“ dir. Aare Toikka
“Kähku igavikku ”, Lahuselu“ dir. Roman Baskin

Robert Jürjendal has appeared on more than 50 records and performed on festivals in USA, UK, Germany, France, Finland, Sweden, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.
He is a lecturer in ensemble and improvisation classes at Tartu University’s Viljandi Cultural Academy and Estonian Academy Of Music And Theatre.

In 2015 together with the Tallinn Art Hall, Robert Jürjendal curated an  art–meets–music-performance project SOOLO.

In 2017, Robert Jürjendal was awarded the title of Musician of the Year by Estonian Public Broadcasting.