PETRAUSKAS MUSEUM

PETRAUSKAS MUSEUM

In 1930, the Petrauskas brothers, the composer of light opera Mikas (1873-1937) and the well-known operatic tenor Kipras (1885-1968), built a large, imposing house on a hill above Kaunas. Mikas took up residence on the left side, Kipras on the right. Today it is a museum of Lithuanian music with a recital room seating nearly 100. On the ground floor, across from the recital room, are exhibitions devoted to the brothers; upstairs, Kipras’s first-floor flat is maintained and in the room to the left the museum also houses an exhibition on the life and works of the Petrauskas’ friend and colleague, Stasys Simkus (see Simkus).

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Kipras is given pride of place because of his greater stature in the musical world and because, unlike his elder brother, who emigrated in 1907, he was based in Lithuania all his life. In 1920 he was among the founders of the Kaunas Opera House and he was later professor at Vilnius Conservatory (now the Lithuanian Academy of Music). Mikas returned to Lithuania only in 1930, after

23 years in the USA, where he promoted Lithuanian music and put together operettas in Lithuanian, performed in New York and in Boston, where in 1917 he founded the Lithuanian Music School. The brothers are buried together in Vilnius in the Rasos Cemetery.

The exhibition devoted to Mikas – who composed what is generally regarded as the first Lithuanian opera, Birute (given in Vilnius in 1906, with his brother singing: it is really a play with music) – is chronologically organized and illustrated with facsimiles of music, pictures, documents, posters and programmes and a handsome portrait of his first wife. The adjoining room is devoted to Kipras’s career, displaying his costumes and his own concert clothes; there are photographs of him in different roles, programmes and recordings, and personal belongings including his prized collection of fishing lures.

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