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Kaljo Raid: Biography

Kaljo Raid
1921 - 2005
Region: Ontario

Kaljo Raid

(b. March 4, 1921 d. Jan 21, 2005). Kaljo Raid was bornin Tallinn, Estonia as second child to Martha and Juhan Raid with twin sister Ilse, and older brother Evald (b. 1918). He began his school years at Westholm Gymnasium in Tallinn. Later, at Tallinn Music Academy , he studied cello, composition and conducting. As a student of a professor and composer Heino Eller who was also a teacher of well known Estonian composers Eduard Tubin and Arvo Pärt Kaljo graduated in 1944. At the end of August 1944, his very first Symphony in C-minor ("C-moll") was performed in the Estonian Broadcasting Corporation. In the same year the turmoil of WW II took Kaljo Raid out of his homeland, first to Sweden, later to the United States and then Canada. He continued his musical education with Jacques Ibert and Darius Milhaud and at several master's classes in America and Europe. In 1945-46 he studied theology at the University of Stockholm and in 1946-49 at Andower Newton Theological School. In 1949-53, he was music instructor/professor at Bethel College in St Paul. From 1954-89 he was the pastor of Toronto Estonian Baptist Church. He was ordained on February 18th 1955 as a recognized pastor of Canadian Baptist Federation. He served as a long time chairman of the Union of Estonian Baptist Abroad. In the 1963 the new church was built and opened under his leadership. Also he started several mission churches and kept contacts with Estonians all over the world. He was the founder and critical figure in the weekly estonian language radio broadcasts.

Raid travelled extensively to Australia, Brasil, Israel and other countries. In 1964 he made a three month trip around the world. In 1966 made he a 30 day trip to South America visiting nine countries. In 1970, while visiting Africa, he travelled to six countries in three weeks.

1968 he helped her twin sister Ilse to immigrate to Canada then in the 70s he visited Estonia, his former homeland. 1982 was a year of great changes - he married Varje Puu and in an instant became a father to five children and also a grandfather. After his retirement in 1989 he was able to dedicate more time to composing music. He also published several books with Estonian publishing houses. In his composition, the interesting and creative personality of Kaljo Raid combines the styles of contemporary and early music.

His compositions include both sophisticated and simple pieces of music. He wrote four symphonies, two of which had been recorded on laserdisc. First with Neeme Järvi and the Scottish National Orchestra and second with Arvo Volmer and Estonian National Symphony Orchestra. Kaljo Raid's works include exciting orchestral pieces and chamber music. He enjoyed experimenting with unique combinations of instruments, solo pieces for various instruments, and longer and shorter vocal pieces.

As a major work, he completed the opera "Fiery Chariots" in 1993. Also, at Mr Neeme Järvi's suggestion, he completed the orchestration of Eduard Tubin's Symphony No 11. Kaljo Raid's music is deeply interwoven with Christian worldview expressed vividly in his vocal compositions as well as in his many instrumental works (cello piece "A Prayer for the People", choral preludes for solo cello, interpretations of spiritual songs for various chamber group configurations etc.). In that regard he has much in common with another student of Heino Eller and a grand figure of Estonian music, Arvo Pärt and english composer Edmund Rubbra.

His music has been performed on concert stages, in churches, on radio and televison both in Europe and North America. His sheet music and compositions have been published in Canada, Estonia and Germany.

As an exceptionally talented performer, composer, Kaljo Raid left his unique imprint in the cultural history of Canada and Estonia. He is shining example of a successful and thriving Canadian immigrant community.

Kaljo passed away on 21 January 2005 in Richmond Hill at the age of 83 years and 10 months. He will be greatly missed and remembered by loving wife, sister, children, congregation, music community, colleagues and friends.

Jan. 2005