Estonian composer Veljo Tormis died at the age of 86 on Saturday, 21 January 2017.

Born in Aru village, Kuusalu Parish, Harju County, Tormis had a profound experience with choral music starting at an early age.

When he was seven, his family moved to Kivi-Vigala village, where his father worked as a sacristan – his father was teaching music and worked as an organist at a local church. The family home also had an organ that provided Tormis with his first playing experience.

Tormis began his formal musical education in 1943 at the Tallinn Music School. In 1949, he entered the Tallinn Conservatory and continued his studies at the Moscow Conservatory (1951–1956). Soon after, he acquired a teaching position at the Tallinn Music School (1955–60), where Arvo Pärt was among his students. He held another teaching position at the Tallinn Music High School (1962–66), but by 1969 was supporting himself exclusively as a freelance composer.