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Mikalojus Konstantinas
Ciurlionis
Lithuania 
1875−1911
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Biography and information
 
By the standards of the great Dante ("Having lived on earth to half …"), Churlionis was destined to exactly half the time allotted to man. He died at 35. However, the uniqueness of talent and the intensity of Churlionis’s creative life were such that they allowed him to become, firstly, the ancestor of Lithuanian chamber-instrumental and symphonic music, and secondly, one of the most distinctive artists of the twentieth century. Without setting himself such a task at all (after all, he was a very, very modest man), Churlionis became a living embodiment of the ideal dream of the Silver Age of the great synthesis of arts.

The artist inherited musical talent from his father, Konstantinas Čiurlionis. He once decided to turn the hereditary Lithuanian peasant out of the way and learned to play the organ. In the church, which became his new job, he met a German girl named Adele. Her family, Evangelical Christians, fled from Germany due to religious persecution.

Adele and Konstantinas will be married in 1873, there will be nine children in their family. And their firstborn, born on September 22, 1875 and received at baptism the double name Mikalojus-Konstantinas, in 30 years will become the national pride of Lithuania.

At first, little was foreshadowed in Chyurlionis by the artist. All his abilities were aimed at something else: he was a real musical prodigy, graduated from the orchestra school in Plunge, studied counterpoint and composition in Warsaw. His cantatas, fugues and especially small piano pieces are a success. At the age of 25 he will write the symphonic poem "In the Forest", and to this day is considered the highest achievement of Lithuanian musical art.

But something obscure leads Churlionis to a completely different direction. During his life, he has repeatedly rejected flattering career proposals — to become the rector of the Lublin Conservatory or a professor at the Conservatory in Warsaw. Instead, he goes to Leipzig. It seems to improve musical education in the local conservatory. In fact, to be closer to the epicenter of artistic life, and to draw, draw … In letters from Leipzig, he increasingly, embarrassed and ironically above himself, mentions his studies in painting.

At the age of 27, Chyurlionis, already quite well-known as a composer, begins to learn drawing. Now, more and more time, previously given to music, is being spent on capturing nature views, faces and figures of people from nature. Churlionis is fond of the works of Polish and German symbolists. He is close to their search for the "beauty of the mysterious", the desire to capture on paper or canvas fantasy and dreams.

But composership does not leave Churlionis’s life: he continues to compose, and his artistic work is imbued with the spirit of music. His cycles and individual paintings do not just bear the names of musical genres (Funeral Symphony, Sonata of the Sun, Sonata of the Stars etc.), but they are also built according to the laws of musical harmony, known to Churlionis perfectly.

The 1905 revolution in the Russian Empire and the processes of national renaissance that followed it lead Chyurlionis to Lithuania. For the first time, he is aware of himself as a Lithuanian and vows to devote his life to his homeland, does a lot for the emergence of a full-fledged cultural space in Lithuania.

Interestingly, while warmly sharing the ideas of the Lithuanian national revival, Churlionis almost did not speak Lithuanian — his languages of communication were Russian, German, Polish. But fate sent him a wonderful teacher — a philology student from the University of Krakow, Sofia (Zosia) Kymantayte. A fiery patriot of Lithuania, she taught юрurlionis the Lithuanian language, introduced Lithuanian poetry and later became his wife.

In 1908, not having found an understanding of his art in his homeland, Churlionis arrives in St. Petersburg, where he draws closer to the terms of the "World of Art" and participates in exhibitions organized by them. He lives in poverty, works for wear and, undermining his physical and mental strength, falls seriously ill. Wife takes him to Lithuania. But Churlionis is getting worse. Friends are taking him to a mental hospital near Warsaw. Medical order Churlionis forbid to draw and make music. One cold night, which happens in early spring, he goes into the woods, painfully wanders without finding a road, and returns with severe pneumonia, followed by cerebral hemorrhage.

Chyurlionis dies, before they reach 36. His last correspondence was a note to his wife and newborn daughter Danute.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. Yearning
Yearning
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis
1907-1907, 66.2×81.6 cm
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Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. Aries. From the series "zodiac Signs"
Aries. From the series "zodiac Signs"
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis
1907, 36×31 cm
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Whole feed
Artworks by the artist
48 artworks total
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. Sacrifice
9
Sacrifice
1909, 70×77 cm
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. Sonata of the sea. Andante
11
Sonata of the sea. Andante
1908, 73×62 cm
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. The creation of the world IX
23
The creation of the world IX
1906, 35.5×30.5 cm
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. From the series "the Creation"
6
From the series "the Creation"
1906, 36×30 cm
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. Raigardas. Triptych
5
Raigardas. Triptych
1907, 61×72 cm
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. From the series "Zodiac Signs". Sagittarius
11
From the series "Zodiac Signs". Sagittarius
1907, 36×31 cm
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. Sonata of the sea. Allegro
11
Sonata of the sea. Allegro
1908, 73×63 cm
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. Friendship
10
Friendship
1907, 73×63 cm
Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis. Raigardas. Triptych
4
Raigardas. Triptych
1907, 61×71 cm
View 49 artworks by the artist