Mai Simson will defend her doctoral thesis on 30 November at 14.30 room A-402 for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Music):

„Rudolf Tobiase oratooriumi „Joonas“ tekstikriitilisest redigeerimisest“
(On the critical editing of Rudolf Tobias’s oratorio „Jona“)

Supervisor: Professor Kerri Kotta, PhD
Opponent: Mihhail Gerts, PhD

The doctoral thesis is available HERE (in Estonian) and in print in the EAMT library.

Rudolf Tobias started writing the oratorio “Jonah” already while working in Tartu
(19041908), but most of the work was completed in Germany, where the composer
went in order to get acquainted with Western European music life and find more diverse
job opportunities. The final score of “Jonah” was completed in 1909. The premiere of
the piece took place the same year on November 26, in St. Andrew’s Church in Leipzig.
After the premiere, the composer conducted individual numbers of the piece at various
concerts in both, Germany and Estonia, but the oratorio as a whole could not be
performed again during Tobias’ life.
The oratorio was brought back to performance again only before Estonia regained its
independence, where the oratorio played an important role in confirming national
identity. The scores of the work were prepared in a new redaction by pianist and
musicologist Vardo Rumessen. In the context back then, the question about the original
form of the oratorio remained in the background, and the main goal was to restore the
piece in a monumental and representative form. Today, however, in addition to the
national aspects of the oratorio, other aspects have become important too, as “Jonah” is
not only a national monument, but also an outstanding masterpiece that can be
interpreted in many different ways.
For a long time, conductor Tõnu Kaljuste had also been interested in performing
“Jonah”. To this end, he wished to study Tobias’ manuscripts thoroughly and to prepare
a new version that took into account the composer’s writings as accurately as possible.
My task in this process was initially to compare the version of Vardo Rumessen with
the manuscript of Rudolf Tobias, and later to edit the new version. This in turn grew
into the topic of my dissertation.
The aim of my research was to describe the problems that occur while being in the
process of creating a critical redaction of “Jonah”. The critical edition would be based
on a critical examination and comparison of available sources and would consider the
composer’s original intentions, as much as it is possible to reconstruct them. As a result
of my research, I hope to publish a critical edition of the piece in the future.