Helena Tulve

(b. 1972, Tartu).

Estonian composer of mostly orchestral, chamber and vocal works that have been performed throughout Europe and elsewhere.

Ms. Tulve studied composition with Erkki-Sven Tüür at the Eesti Muusika- ja Teatriakadeemia – Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallinn from 1989–92 and with Jacques Charpentier at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris from 1992–94, where she earned a premier prix and where she also studied Gregorian chant and traditional music from 1993–96.

Among her honours include two prizes at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers (recommendation in the category Under-30, 1998, for à travers; selected work, 2004, for Sula – Thaw) and the Heino Eller Composition Prize (2000, for Sula). Her music has been performed in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA.

She served as composer-in-residence to the Eesti Filharmoonia Kammerkoor – Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir in 2001–02.

She has lectured on composition at the Eesti Muusika- ja Teatriakadeemia since 2000.

Her primary publisher is Edition Peters.

In addition to the works listed below, she has composed didactic music, film scores and incidental music.


E-mail address:




It Is Getting So Dark (chamber opera, libretto by Sei Shōnagon [translated by Ian Morris]), female chorus (+ percussion), flute (+ piccolo, alto flute), French horn, harp, viola, double bass, percussion, film ad libitum (by Anu Lamp, Tarvo Hanno Varres), 2003–04

Maa ja taeva vahel (dance music), small orchestra (percussion, strings), 2015


à travers, small orchestra (12 players), 1998

Sinine, small orchestra (14 players), 1998

Sula, didgeridoo (wind instrument from Australia), large orchestra (89 players), 1999

Extinction des choses vues, large orchestra, 2007

Hõbevalge, violin, string orchestra, 2007–08 (also longer version for flute, string orchestra, 2013)

Anastatica, orchestra (8 winds, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, percussion, strings), 2011

Hingamisveele, string orchestra, 2011

L'Ombre derrière toi, soprano viol, tenor viol, viola da gamba, string orchestra, 2011

Mäena vaikin ma paljust – Being Mountain I Remain Silent, orchestra (8 winds, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, 2 percussion, strings), 2013

Südamaa, piano, orchestra (8 winds, 7 brass, harp, 3 percussion, strings), 2012–14


Phainomenon, piano (+ synthesizer), celesta, marimba, tam-tam, fixed media, 1989–90

Lethe, flute, oboe, clarinet, cello, piano, 1991

Saar – Island, clarinet, violin, 1993

Öö – Night, 4 saxophones, 1997

Passage secret, 2 clarinets, 1999

Traces, amplified ensemble (flute, oboe, clarinet, baritone saxophone, violin, double bass, percussion), 2001

Cendres, amplified ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, double bass, 2 pianos, 2 percussion), 2001

Valvaja – Watcher, oboe, 2002

lumineux / opaque, violin, cello, piano (all + wine glass), 2002 (also version for clarinet, cello, piano [all + wine glass], 2004)

Abysses, piccolo (+ flute, alto flute, bass flute), ensemble (piccolo [+ flute, alto flute], oboe, bassoon, trombone, viola, cello, percussion), 2003

effleurements, éclatements..., guitar, percussion, 2003

nec ros, nec pluvia..., string quartet, 2004 neige, kannel (zither from Estonia), harpsichord, 2004

Lendajad – Soarers, 2 piccolos (1st + flute, alto flute, 2nd + flute, bass flute), 2005

ligne d'horizon, flute (+ piccolo), oboe, clarinet, harp, guitar, mandolin, violin, viola, cello, double bass, piano, percussion, 2005

stream 1, flute (+ piccolo, bass flute), clarinet (+ bass clarinet), violin, cello, 2006

Silmajad, 3 kannel, 2006 (also version for harp, kannel, harpsichord, 2009; version as Silmaja, kannel, 2006)

les nuages parfois, 4 recorders, 2009

stream 2, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 2009 (also version as stream 2a, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, 2009–10; version as stream 2b, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, 2011)

To Night-Travellers, the Light, cello, piano, 2009

Ma kuulsin sind laulmas – I Heard You Singing, 3 percussion, 2010

Where the Two Seas Meet?, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, guitar, mandolin, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, piano, percussion, 2010

Nagu jõgi mere poole, saxophone, piano, 2011

Pulss, mõõn ja voolamine, bass flute, piano, 2012

Rimlands, clarinet, cello, piano, 2012

Und von liehte vinster, bassoon, string quartet, 2012

kõrgemale kui hing võib loota või meel varjata – higher than the soul can hope and mind can hide, 2 violins, 2015

Every Spark Is Numbered I. Two Seas, santur (hammered dulcimer from the Middle East), ensemble (flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, cello), 2015

Le Reflet du reflet – Hommage à Pierre Boulez, flute (+ piccolo), clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 2015

Languse ööl, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion, 2015

Iga säde on arvel II. Loori varjus – Every Spark Is Numbered II. Behind the Veil, harp, kannel, harpsichord, 2015

Every Spark Is Numbered III. Río abajo Río, violin, viola, cello, harpsichord, 2016


Exodus (texts by J. M. G. Le Clézio [translated by Kristiina Ross], Liis Kolle, the Bible), 2 sopranos, 16 mixed voices, 1992–93

Vie secrète (text by Pascal Quignard), 12 mixed voices, 2002

Reyah hadas'ala – Arise, The Perfume of Myrtles (text by Shalom Shabazi), 2 sopranos/2 countertenors, male chorus, soprano recorder (+ soprano pommer, bass recorder), alto recorder (+ tenor recorder, dulcian), bass trombone (+ trombone), violin, soprano viola da gamba (+ tenor viola da gamba, bass viol), bass viol (+ violone), positive organ, 2005

Arboles lloran por lluvia (text from a traditional source in Ladino), soprano, countertenor, male chorus (+ sandpaper blocks), nyckelharpa, 2006

I Am a River (text by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī [translated by Nevit O. Ergin]), mixed chorus, 2009

Lost (texts by David Wagoner, Walt Whitman, E. E. Cummings), mixed chorus, 2014

See algab (text by Maarja Pärtna), mixed chorus, 2015

Selline on õite tarkus (text by Maarja Pärtna), mixed chorus, 2016

In Silence (text by Thomas Merton), trumpet ad libitum, mixed chorus, 2016


Sõnajalad – Ferns (text by Karl Ristikivi), female voice, piano, 1994

Ithaque (text by Tõnu Õnnepalu [translated by Antoine Chalvin]), female voice, violin, piano, 2000

Lijnen (text by Roland Jooris), soprano (+ sleigh bells, triangle), flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon (+ sandpaper blocks), French horn (+ sandpaper blocks), violin, viola, cello (+ rainstick), double bass (+ finger cymbals), 2003

In a nakht fun yeridah (text by Jacob Glatstein), soprano, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, accordion, percussion, 2006

silences / larmes (text from Mother Immaculata Astre), soprano, oboe, tuned glasses (+ mother-of-pearl wind chimes), 2006

L'Équinoxe de l'âme (text by Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi [translated by Henry Corbin]), soprano, Baroque harp, string quartet, 2008

North Wind, South Wind (texts from the Song of Solomon, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī [English translation]), female voice, flute, kannel, cello, 2010

Mondnacht (text by Joseph von Eichendorff), soprano, kannel, 2010

Salt (texts by Maarja Kangro, the composer, Tarvo Hanno Varres), soprano, 2 percussion, 2011

Stella matutina (text from a source in Latin), voice, prepared piano, 2012

Sinna otsime teed tagasi (text by Ernst Enno), mezzo-soprano, flute (+ alto flute, bass flute), string quartet, 2014

Ole tervitatud, Maarja! (text from a traditional prayer from Estonia), voice, 2015


Vertige, 2000

Three Songs, 2008

Laula mulle õitsvast puust, 2013


Sans titre, 1999


Delta, fixed media (2 tracks), 2003