The People’s Conservatory, as a music education institution, emerged in the first half of the 20th century. Its purpose was to spread musical knowledge to the public and to popularise folk music in the form of concerts and lectures. The first People’s Conservatories were opened in Moscow in 1906, St. Petersburg in 1908, and Vienna in 1925.
The People’s Conservatory was operating in Kaunas from 1930 to 1940; it was established and maintained by E. Laumenskienė, a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory, who was also teaching at the People’s Conservatory in Kaunas.
On September 7, 1983, a decision was made at the meeting of the Kaunas City Folk Music Council to establish the People’s Conservatory. At that time, folklore ensembles were established, and ethnographic festivals and hikers-folklorists movements were organized. As neither higher education institutions nor music schools in Lithuania prepared folklore and ethnographic ensemble performers and leaders, the aim of the conservatory was to help people familiarize themselves better with folk music and folklore.
The exhibition was prepared by the custodian of the collection of the Folk Music Branch of the Kaunas City Museum Eglė Adomulytė
The students of three specialties were prepared at the Conservatory: singing, instrumentology, and leader of folklore ensembles.
In the photograph: Specialised singing teacher at the Kaunas People’s Conservatory and the singer of Dzukian songs, Veronika Janulevičiūtė-Povilionienė.
The first lectures at the People’s Conservatory started on October 16, 1983, at the J. Gruodis Higher Music School.
In the photograph: The first lecture at the People’s Conservatory was dialectology. The lecture was given by Candidate of Philology Alvydas Butkus.
The following disciplines were taught: Specialized Singing, Specialized Instrument, Folklore and Folk Customs, Dialectology, Musical Folklore, Folk Instruments and Instrumentology, Performing Art, Folk Choreography, Aesthetics, History of the National Costume, Specialised Seminars, and Folklore of other Nations.
In the photograph: Lectures of Folklore. The lecture is given by the teacher of Klaipėda Conservatory Faculty, musicologist, and folklorist R. Sliužinskas.
In the school year of 1983-1985, there were 60 people who attended the lectures at the People’s Conservatory; in 1985-1987, 133 study requests were submitted.
In the photograph: Basics of choreography. Teacher Merited Artist of the LSSR Kazimieras Poškaitis.
Guests from Klaipeda Conservatory: folklore ensemble “Vorusnė” led by Assoc. Prof. Audronė Jakulienė.
Students of the People’s Conservatory are learning Lithuanian multi-part songs with the help of Assoc. Prof. Audronė Jakulienė and her ensemble of Klaipėda Conservatory.
The intended duration of the studies was 2 years; lectures took place once a week, on Saturdays or Sundays. The study fee for two years was 30 roubles.
In the photograph: Lecture of Costume History and Theory.
The lectures at the People’s Conservatory were attended by people from Raseiniai, Kaišiadorys, Marijampolė (Kapsukas), or Trakai. They were people of various ages and various professions, but they were related to music and ethnography in one way or another: they were members, leaders, or teachers of ethnographic, folk, or amateur ensembles.
In the photograph: Vida Kulikauskienė, the Candidate of Historical Sciences, is teaching the subject Costume History and Theory.
At the end of the school year, students had to take exams, and diplomas were issued.
In the photograph: Final exams. The students are taking an oral exam. Teacher Aleksandra Šalčiūtė.
The last meetings of the first graduates of the People’s Conservatory. The first from right to left is teacher Alvydas Butkus.
The last meetings of the first graduates of the People’s Conservatory. The first from right to left is Veronika Janulevičiūtė-Povilionienė.
Concert of the Conservatory graduates during the opening of the festival “Atataria trimitai”.
The People’s Conservatory was operating until 1987, and there was one group of its graduates. Among the graduates, who acquired the basics of music and folklore activity at the Conservatory, there were the most prominent leaders of the current folklore ensembles: Antanas Bernatonis, the leader of the Folklore Ensemble “Kupolė,” Mintautas Petras Pečiulis, the leader of the Kaunas Folklore Ensemble “Žaisa” and Ringaudai Folklore Ensemble “Jotija,” Nijolė Grivačiauskienė, the leader of Garliava Folklore Ensemble “Gegutala”, Jūratė Svidinskienė (Banevičiūtė), the leader of Kaunas folklore ensembles “Liktužė” and “Vėrupė”, Bernadeta Vosyliūtė, an active member of KRMTI (Kaunas Radio Measurement Research Institute) Folklore Ensemble, and other members of Kaunas local ethnographers and hikers.
In the photograph: Opening of the Museum of Lithuanian Folk Music Instruments (now – Kaunas City Museum Folk Music Branch) in April, 1985, in the Museum yard. The teachers and graduates of the People’s Conservatory.