State Song And Dance Ensemble “Lietuva”, A Professional Company Involving Dancers, Folk Instrument Orchestra And Choir, Was Established In Vilnius In November 1940. Its Initial Artistic Director, Composer Jonas Švedas (1908 – 1971), Has Formulated Ensemble’s Artistic Objectives: Promulgation Of Folk Songs, Dances, Instrumental Music As Well As Exposing The Beauty Of Lithuanian National Costumes.

When Forming The Ensemble, J.Švedas Had To Decide Whether To Base The Ensemble In A Natural Ethnographic Environment And Foster Authentic Folklore – Songs, Dances And Music – There, Or Upgrade Folk Instruments And Perform “New Music In Folk Style”, “Specially Balanced Folk Songs” And Staged Versions Of Folk Dances. J.Švedas Chose The Latter Option.

The Ensemble Made Its Debut On February 22, 1941. The Programme Was Comprised From J.Švedas’ Arrangements Of Folk Songs And Staged Folk Dances. It Also Included Sutartinė – An Authentic Folk Song Appreciated For Its Unique Sonorities. In November Of The Same Year The Ensemble Premiered A Staged-Concert “Country Wedding”, Featuring Wedding Customs, And In 1942 Introduced One More Programme In The Same Vein – “St.Johns Celebration”. On March 18, 1943, The Ensemble Was Disbanded And Resumed Activity In Autumn Of 1944. Since Then, “Lietuva” Has Focused On Expanding Its Repertoire And Experimenting With New Artistic Forms.

In The 40s – 50s The Ensemble Developed The So-Called “Golden Repertoire” –Compositions (Especially Dances, Choreographed By Juozas Lingys) Enjoying Popularity To This Day. By 1962, The Ensemble Had Developed 25 Programmes. Needless To Say, Every Programme At That Time Had To Have “A Cap” – A “Soviet” Song And National Dances Of USSR. However, “Capped” Ensemble Could Relatively Easy Sing And Dance Lithuanian Repertoire, Which Was Always Enthusiastically Received By The Audiences.

In 1962 – 1972, Under The Direction Of Vladas Bartusevičius (1927 – 1982), The Ensemble Had Enriched Its Repertoire With New Programmes. The First, Called “Winds Of Ages”, Was A Collaboration Of 13 Composers And 7 Poets. The Orchestra Introduced New Folk Music Instruments Such As Ožragis(Goat-Horn), Molinukai (Clay Pipes), Džingulis (Bell-Stick), Tabalai (Percussion), Ragai (Horns), Dūdmaišis(Bagpipe) Also Called Labanoro Dūda. Stylised National Costumes, Designed By The Artist D.Mataitienė, Stirred A Hot Discussion. On The Whole, This Programme Anticipated New And More Modern Artistic Tendency.

Programme “Festive Evenings” (1968) Received Even Wider Acclaim. At Its Core There Was Calendar Holidays Of Four Main Ethnographic Regions Of Lithuania – Dzūkija, Aukštaitija, Žemaitija (Samogitia) And Suvalkija. New And Ethnographically Meticulous Costumes, Designed By Artists R.Songailaitė And J.Balčikonis, Earned Additional Admiration. The Programme Featured Dzūkian Christmas Carols, Samogitian Mardi Grass, Aukštaitian Joninės (St.Johns Celebration) And Suvalkian Celebration Of The End Of Autumnal Works. This Programme Effectively Combined Elements Of Both Folk And Professional Art; It Did Not Neglect A Patriotic Flavour As Well. In Developing This Programme V.Bartusevičius Collaborated With Composers A.Bražinskas, V.Klova, V.Juozapaitis, L.Povilaitis, V.Bagdonas And B.Dvarionas. The Then Government Of Soviet Union Could Not Ignore Artistic Success Of Such A Calibre And Awarded Programme Designers The State Prize.

Pranas Budrius (B. 1938), A Former Director Of The Orchestra, Led The Ensemble In 1972 – 1999. He Designed Five Programmes. “Across The Motherland” (1974) – A Journey Across Lithuania, Guided By Palangos Juzė, A Well-Known Literary Character – Enjoyed Great Popularity. In Suvalkija Palangos Juzė Visited Merrymaking After Completion Of Hard Work, In Dzūkija He Was A Guest At An Evening-Party, In Aukštaitija He Took Part In Youth Entertainment And In Žemaitija (Samogitia) He Enjoyed The End-Of-Winter Celebration.

The Motives Of Calendar Holidays Were Also Felt In Other Programmes Of This Period, Namely “Rye’s Chant” (1985) And “Sun Is Crossing The Sky” (1991). The Latter Was Saturated With Mythological Images, Symbols And Pantheistic Insights. Marked By Theatrical Element And Pagan Fervour The Programme Represented Ancient Lithuania As Well As Man’s Primeval Correlation With Nature And The World. This Time The Composers’ List Introduced New Names – A.Martinaitis, V.Bartulis And A.Klova.

Composer Leonas Povilaitis (B. 1934) Led The Ensemble At The Turn Of The 21st Century. He Is Credited For A Programme “From Ancestors’ Fount” Comprised From Songs, Dances And Vocal-Choreographic Compositions In Folk Vein Written By The Director Himself.

Composer G.Svilainis (B. 1972)Has Led The Ensemble Since 2004. Under His Guidance The Ensemble Has Developed New Programmes Marked By Original Musical Style, Innovative Interpretation Of Lithuanian Folklore. In Musical Spectacle “Thunderer” Composers G.Svilainis And N.Sinkevičiūtė Shunned From Small-Scale Numbers And Concentrated On Continuous Dramaturgical Development. Seven Scenes In One Or The Other Way Refer To One Of The Foremost Characters Of Ancient Lithuanian Culture – Pagan God Thunderer And His Environment – Witches, Clouds, Devil And Senior Priests. Striking Music Links The World, Gods And Men Into One Undividable Orb…

In 2004, The Ensemble Introduced G.Svilainis’ Folklore Mystery Play “Lightning Flowers” In Which The Composer Fused Folklore And Pop-Music. It Was An Attempt To Render Authentic Folk Music In The Language Of Contemporary Pop-Culture, To Merge It With Vigorous Songs And Dances. The Recent Programme “Unforgettable. Old – New” Is A Garland Of Contrasts. Its First Half Presents Ensemble’s “Golden Repertoire”, While The Second Half Revisits Another Music Of Soviet Era With A Hint Of Irony: Popular Melodies Of That Time Arranged For Folk And Percussion Instruments By G.Svilainis. Electronic Synthesiser Amplifies This Peculiar Orchestra. This Is A Concert–Game, Half Seriously Half Jokingly Recapping Odd Values Of The Time, Which Seems So Far Away For Today’s Young Generation.

In The First Post-War Decade The Ensemble Performed Mostly In Lithuania, Other “Brotherly” Republics And Moscow. Concerts At The Decade Of Lithuanian Literature And Art In Moscow In 1954 Received A Positive Critical Response. Performances In Poland (1957) And Romania (1958) Brought International Acclaim. Since Then, The Ensemble Has Toured In Europe (37 Countries), Asia, North And Latin America. The Year 1999 Saw “Lietuva” Conquering Japanese Audiences. Upon The Japanese Request The Programme Featured Folk Dances Of 10 Different Regions Of Lithuania. In Addition To Concert Programme, V.Buterlevičius, Leader Of The Dance Group, Led Six Folk Dance Seminars In Different Japanese Cities.

Currently, The Ensemble Involves 116 Persons Including Singers, Dancers, Musicians And Administrative Personnel. The Ensemble Invests Its Energies In Building A Variety Of New Projects. The Artistic Altar Is Constantly Rekindled With The Flame Of National Art.

36 Persons Were On The Personnel’s List On February 22, 1941; 152 – On February 22, 1991; Today – 116. In More Than Six Decades The Ensemble Performed Over 1000 Works, And Appeared In Over 8000 Concerts.

Contributors To The Ensemble’s Repertoire:


J.Švedas – 128 Works,

V.Klova – 57,

A.Bražinskas – 49,

L.Povilaitis – 31,

V.Juozapaitis – 30;


J.Lingys – 167 Works,

V.Buterlevičius – 41,

J.Gudavičius – 24,

A.Kondratavičius – 15.

Artistic Directors:

J. Švedas (1940–1943, 1944–1962),

V. Bartusevičius (1962–1972),

P. Budrius (1972–1999)

G. Svilainis (2008)

Choir Directors:

V. Leparskas (1945–1946, 1953–1954),

A. Ilčiukas (1954–1960),

S. Zaleckas (1961–1962),

A. Krogertas (1962–1968),

V. Žeimys (1968–1988),

A. Kriūnas (1988)


L. Povilaitis (1999–2001),

V. Aleksandravičius (2002),

G. Svilainis (2004-2008),

R. Katinskas (2009)

Orchestra Directors-Conductors:

E. Pilypaitis (1946–1968),

P. Budrius (1968–1972),

K. Budrys (1972–1989),

A. Vidugiris (1989–1992),

S. Prusevičius (1992)

V. Lukočius (2010)

E. Kaveckas (2012)

Dance Directors:

M. Baronaitė (1940–1943),

Z. Parulis (1943–1946),

J. Lingys (1946–1981),

V. Buterlevičius (1981)

Stage Directors:

G. Velička (1941–1946),

B. Dauguvietis (1949–1950),

V. Gruodis (1950–1951),

E. Petrauskienė (1951–1955),

S. Nosevičiūtė (1960–1961),

V. Jurkūnas (1961),

A. Kernagis (1963, 1974),

N. Petrokas (1991, 2000)