Culture Community Appalled by Plan to Return Building to Brotherhood (1)

The House of the Blackheads in Tallinn's Old Town Photo: ERR
2/6/2012 11:56 AM
Category: Culture

Leaders of the arts community have attacked the government's plan to return a medieval building to the surviving members of a German guild.

Internationally renowned conductor Eri Klas said the plan is an insult, and pianist Rein Rannap called it a “crime against Estonian culture.”

“For me, it has been a music building since my childhood,“ Rannap, head of the Association of Estonian Professional Musicians, told Pealinn. “I sang for a boys' choir there. My band Ruja practiced and performed there [...] And how many concerts I've attended and given there. I have a lot of memories of the Blackheads building and it is irreplaceable.“

Klas, who has wielded the baton for countless concerts in the House of the Blackheads, said there was no interest by anyone except artists toward the medieval building before it was overhauled. In 2006, Parliament handed the building with a leaky roof over to the City of Tallinn, which spent 75,000 euros for repairs and last year gave it to Tallinn Philharmonic. The National Symphony Orchestra was also born in the edifice. “Music rings from morning to evening in that building,” said Klas.

While other medieval guilds were abolished during reforms after Estonia gained independence in 1918, the Brotherhood of the Blackheads was officially recognized by the state, and remained the owner of the building until the Soviet occupation in 1940.

The Brotherhood of the Blackheads, named after St. Maurice in the late 14th century, was a kind of junior guild for unmarried German merchants and served as a springboard for admission to the Great Guild.


Ott Tammik

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