Olav Ehala

Composer, pianist and teacher, ECU member since 1977
Born on 31.07.1950

Estonian Music Information Centre

Olav Ehala is foremost known as a song writer and composer of film and theatre music. His songs (mainly from motion pictures, musicals and theatre productions) have become greatly popular, they are well-known for many generations of Estonians, reached to the repertoire of national song celebrations and belong to the Estonian treasury of music. Music for children forms a considerable part of his output. In Ehala’s songs, equal importance is given to melody rich in embellishments, recognisable and idiosyncratic harmony and demanding rhythms. His music is written unexceptionally on texts in Estonian language, furthest on the poetry of Leelo Tungal and Juhan Viiding.

Olav Ehala graduated from Tallinn Music School in 1969 and Tallinn State Conservatoire in composition with Eugen Kapp in 1974. 1970–1973, Ehala was a leader of ESSR State Philharmony variety ensemble. He has worked in State Youth Theatre as a musician (1970–1975) and music director (1975–1991). From 1991, Olav Ehala is a pedagogue in Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (1998 docent, 2004 professor) and from 2001–2014, chairman of the Estonian Composers’ Union. He is a Council Chairman of the Estonian National Culture Foundation since 2016.

He has written music more than 70 plays and 60 films. Great part of theatre music was created for State Youth Theatre where the collaboration with reknown Russian director Adolf Shapiro began. In the film sphere, the most fruitful has been cooperation with Priit Pärn – Ehala has written music for almost all Pärn’s animated films which have been awarded international prizes.

In addition, Ehala performs as a pianist and belongs to several ensembles. Closer collaboration binds him with ensemble Kiigelaulukuuik by whom he is active as a composer, pianist and arranger since 1989.

For his diverse activity, Olav Ehala has been given many awards: Estonian annual prize for music (1992), Estonian cultural prize Suur Vanker (1997), Annual Prize of the Cultural Endowment of Estonia in the artistic team of animated film “Lotte” (2000), Riho Päts School Music Foundation Stipendium (2002), Estonian Music Council’s Music Prize for his music that connects generations, tastes and hearts (2005), Estonian Radio Musician of the Year (2005), Estonian Music Award for the contribution to Estonian music (2007), National Culture Award for creative accomplishments in 2010 (2011), Tallinn Merited Figure of Culture Award (2015). He is a honorary member of Estonian Music Teachers’ Union and Estonian Choral Association. Olav Ehala has over 19 author-CDs.

© EMIK 2008
Updated in January 2018