... who gave their first concert in 1972 was established with the initiation of Andres Mustonen, a violin student of the then Tallinn State Conservatory, and is therefore the oldest continuously working ensemble in its field in Eastern Europe and one of the few of such longevity in the world.
Born in the conditions of the soviet isolation, a group of enthusiasts, uniting their youthful energies and using minimal outward assistance (for it was simply not available) found their way and face in Hortus Musicus. Andres Mustonen performed a central role as the generator of ideas. His unacceptance of the then regime, as well as of the rock-hard conceptions that had developed in music, pushed the group towards a quest into the yet unknown world of pre-Bach music.
The music making of Hortus is first and foremost (and, often, differently from their European colleagues) characterized by a creative and cliché’less attitude to music that is distant to us in time, but not necessarily in essence. Never becoming in direct controversy with the so-called “authentic” or “temporally informed” way of performing, Hortus have never had it for a goal in itself. Thus, the concerts and recordings of Hortus sound fresh, comprehensible and powerful - this is the living music of today’s people.
For more than 30 years now, Hortus have investigated and presented in their programmes European music from the 8th-20th centuries: the Gregorian coral - organums - medieval liturgic drama - hymns and motets - the Franco-Flemish school - the Trecento-masters of Italy - the 16th-century rigid polyphony - French chansons - Italian madrigals, frotollas and villanelles - a large amount of suites from Renaissance dances from all across Europe - early sonatas and secular large works of baroque composers of the 17th-18th centuries - the music of 20th century composers (often created specially for Hortus).
The works of contemporary composers serve as interesting challenge for the ensemble - one has to overcome some inabilities of the earlier instruments involving tuning and dynamics. On the other hand, it expands the emploi of the renaissance instruments and enables the new music to use especially beautiful and natural sounds, which would not be attainable with today’s unified instruments. The new music performed by Hortus carries in itself the same values that are appreciated in earlier, more balanced music - the purity and clarity of form, harmony and beauty in simple things.
During their lifetime of more than 30 years, Hortus have given concerts in most European countries, the USA, Japan, Israel and the vast territory of the former Soviet Union, as well as performed at most major early music festivals. They have recorded ca 35 programmes, a part of which is available even today in companies like Erdenklang, Musica Svecia, Forte and Finlandia Records.
At the present there are 10 members in Hortus Musicus:
Andres Mustonen - artistic leader, violin, viola, recorders, cromorns
Olev Ainomäe - shawns, oboe, recorders, shalmey, cromorns, rauschpfeiff
Valter Jürgenson - trombones
Tõnis Kuurme - curtal, shawn, bassoon, recorders, cromorn, rauschpfeiff
Peeter Klaas - viols, cello
Imre Eenma - violone, contrabass, viol
Ivo Sillamaa - harpsichord, organ, piano
Joosep Vahermägi - tenor
Tõnis Kaumann- baritone
Riho Ridbeck - bass, percussion instruments
For the performing of 18th century oratorios and passions the "Hortus Musicus Academic Orchestra will assembled, in more solo programs - solo- and trio sonatas - the number of performers will be from 3 up to 6. By performances of great liturgical dramas up to 80 additional performers will be involved.
Hortus Musicus in rehearsal