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2014 03 08

Compositions by Juozas Naujalis often can be heard in the repertoire of Kaunas State Choir. However few know that art director of the choir -Petras Bingelis enshrines the baton he was handed in thirty years ago by the composer’s daughter - Zofija Naujelytė.

J. Naujalis is an extraordinary figure in the music culture of Lithuania. According to the composer Stasys Šimkus, the real active musical movement in Lithuania stars with Juozas Naujalis.
The cathedral’s choir in pre-war Kaunas led by him was perhaps the biggest music collective not only in the provisional capital but in the whole Lithuania. Therefore there is no doubt that handing of composer’s baton to the conductor P. Bingelis is an important assessment of the choir. It is as well an expression of the anticipation that this collective will cherish and promote the creative heritage of J. Naujalis. The more especially as to present her father’s baton Z. Naujalytė decided after a long consideration.
Symbol of the conductor’s power
"Perhaps she did not intend the baton to lay gummed up and having lost its’ breath in the museum. On January 17th, 1982, after the concert in Vilnius Arch-cathedral was over, composer’s daughter approached and told she no longer has doubts whom she should present the baton because what she has heard is true and in her opinion J. Naujalis himself would be glad to hear such interpretations. And what is the most important that in her heart she felt that the choir will continue her father’s music traditions", - shared his thoughts P. Bingelis.
The choir member Rimantas Klevečka considers that Kaunas State Choir led by professor P. Bingelis continues worthy the traditions of choral music cherished in Kaunas since old times.
"The baton is a symbol of the conductor’s power, like a scepter in the hands of a sovereign: motion of the conductor, having a baton in his hands, makes the choir and the orchestra to submit instantaneously", - told R. Klevečka.
Country of origin: Germany?
A real reliquia of Lithuania’s music history – J. Naujalis’ baton with composer’s initials written in gold asks several riddles. It is not known neither when nor on what occasion J. Naujalis acquired it. And what is more it is even not ascertained a silhouette of which famous composer adorns this elaborate baton.
The first probable assumption is that it is a silhouette of a famous German composer – Richard Wagner. The more especially that in the time J. Naujalis lived the music of this creator of the romantic opera was extremely popular; operas of this composer were included in the repertoire of numerous theatres all over Europe.
In 1894 J. Naujalis perfected his knowledge in the field of the church music in the High School of Church Music in Regensburg (Germany). Thus it is quite possible that the country of baton’s origin is Germany.

A careful regard is necessary

The second and perhaps the more precise surmise is related to the at that time very intense influence of the Polish culture: a very elaborate (this is as well important) baton is decorated with the silhouette of a famous 19th century Polish composer and conductor Stanislaw Moniuszko, one of the most prominent creators of the Polish romantic music and national opera who had lived in Vilnius for eighteen years where he worked as an organist in St. Johns’ church, conducted the orchestra of Vilnius city theatre and wrote his famous opera "Halka". J. Naujalis studies in the Music Institute in Warsaw where since 1864 as well worked the above mentioned composer.
And what is more in the competition in honour of S. Moniuszko J. Naujalis has been awarded the first prize. Thus it is quite possible that the baton (probably adorned by the silhouette of S. Moniuszko) is a memento received after winning the first place in the competition.

These are, of course, only assumptions and not the answers. A precious reliquia of the Lithuanian music history preserved by maestro P. Bingelis needs a careful regard and a comprehensive investigation that should be initiated not waiting for special occasions. Moreover that this year the 90th anniversary of the first Song Festival that took place in 1924 (J. Naujalis was the organizer and chief conductor) is celebrated.
Enrika Striogaitė
Laikinoji sostinė (Lietuvos Rytas)