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The Zodiac cycle.
Sagittarius (1907)
Sonata of the Sea.
Finale (1908)
Creation of the World X (1906-1907)
Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, also known as M. K. Čiurlionis ( – ) was a Lithuanianmarker painter and composer. Čiurlionis contributed to symbolism and art nouveau and was representative of the fin de siècle epoch. During his short life he composed about 250 pieces of music and created about 300 paintings. The majority of his paintings are housed in the M.marker K.marker Čiurlionis National Art Museummarker in Kaunasmarker, Lithuaniamarker. His works have had a profound influence on modern Lithuanian culture. The asteroid 2420 Čiurlionis is named after him.


Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis was born in Sena Varėnamarker, the oldest of nine children of his father, Constantine, and his mother, Adele. In 1878 his family moved to Druskininkaimarker, where his father became the town organist. Čiurlionis was a musical prodigy: he could play by ear at age three and could sight-read music freely by age seven. Three years out of primary school, he went to study at the musical school of Prince Michał Oginski where he learned to play several orchestral instruments, in particular the flute, from 1889 to 1893. Čiurlionis studied piano and composition at the Warsawmarker Conservatory from 1894 to 1899. For his graduation, in 1899, he wrote a cantata for mixed chorus and symphonic orchestra titled "De Profundis," with the guidance of the composer Zygmunt Noskowski. Later he attended composition lectures at the Leipzigmarker Conservatory (1901 to 1902), and studied drawing at the Warsaw School of Fine Arts from 1904 to 1906.

He was one of the initiators of, and a participant in, the First Exhibition of Lithuanian Art that took place in 1907 in Vileišis Palacemarker, Vilniusmarker. Soon after this event the Lithuanian Union of Arts was founded, and Čiurlionis was of its nineteen founding members.

In 1907 he came to know his later wife Sofija Kymantaitė (1886-1958), an art critic. She taught him to speak good Lithuanian. In those years many educated Lithuanians spoke Polish instead of Lithuanian. The family Čiurlionis grew up in was no exception. He considered himself Lithuanian rather than Polish though.

Early in 1909 he married Sofija. By the end of that year he travelled to St. Petersburgmarker, where he exposed some of his paintings. On Christmas Eve Čiurlionis fell into a profound depression there. In the beginning of 1910 he was hospitalized in a sanatorium in Pustelnikmarker near Markimarker, northeast of Warsawmarker. There he died of pneumonia in 1911, 35 years old. He was buried in the Rasos Cemeterymarker in Vilniusmarker. He never saw his daughter Danutė (1910-1995).

Čiurlionis felt that he was a synesthete; that is, he perceived colors and music simultaneously. Many of his paintings bear the names of musical pieces: sonatas, fugues, and prelude.

Posthumous recognition

In 1911 the first posthumous exhibition of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis's art was held in Vilniusmarker and Kaunasmarker. During the same year an exhibition of his art was held in Moscowmarker, and in 1912 his works were exhibited in St. Petersburgmarker. The National M.marker K.marker Čiurlionis School of Artmarker was founded in Vilnius in 1945; soon afterwards the Lithuanian community in Chicagomarker opened The Čiurlionis Art Gallery, hosting collections of his works. In 1963 the Čiurlionis Memorial Museum was opened in Druskininkai, in the house where Čiurlionis and his family lived. This museum holds biographical documents as well as photographs and reproductions of the artist's works.

Čiurlionis inspired the Lithuanian composer Osvaldas Balakauskas' work Sonata of the Mountains (1975), and every four years junior musical performers from Lithuania and neighbouring countries take part in The Čiurlionis Competition. Čiurlionis's name has been given to cliffs in Franz Josef Landmarker, a peak in the Pamir Mountainsmarker, and to asteroid #2420, discovered by the Crimean astrophysicist Nikolaj Cernych.

Čiurlionis's works have been displayed at international exhibitions in Japanmarker, Germanymarker, Spainmarker, and elsewhere. His paintings were featured at "Visual Music" fest, an homage to synesthesia that included the works of Wassily Kandinsky, James McNeill Whistler, and Paul Klee, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angelesmarker in 2005.

Musical works

Some of his most-performed musical works include:

  • Prelude in F Sharp major
  • String Quartet in C minor
  • Prelude in A major
  • Karalaitės kelionė: Pasaka (The Princess' Journey, A Fairy Tale)
  • Seven fugues for organ
  • Folk songs for choir
  • Miške (In the Forest), a symphonic poem for orchestra (posthumous)
  • Jūra (The Sea), a symphonic poem for orchestra (posthumous)


The most famous Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis paintings include:

  • Cycle Winter (1906-1907)
  • Cycle The Zodiac (1907)
  • Sonatas (1907-1908)
  • Cycle Fairy-Tale (1909)

Creation of the World


Sonata of the Spring (1907)

Image:Pavasario sonata.Allegro.jpg|AllegroImage:Pavasario sonata.Andante.jpg|AndanteImage:Pavasario sonata.Scherzo.jpg|ScherzoImage:Pavasario sonata.Finale.jpg|Finale

Sonata of the Summer (1908)

Image:Vasaros sonata.Allegro.jpg|AllegroImage:Vasaros sonata.Andante.jpg|AndanteImage:Vasaros sonata.Scherzo.jpg|ScherzoImage:Vasaros sonata.Finale.jpg|Finale

Sonata of the Sun (1907)


Sonata of the Sea (1908)


Sonata of the Pyramids (1908)


Sonata of the Stars (1908)


Sonata of the Serpent (1908)

Diptych "Prelude and Fugue" (1908)

Triptych "Fantasy" (1908)

Other Preludes and Fugues

Image:Angelas.Preliudas.jpg|Angel. Prelude

Winter - Cycle of Eight Pictures (1906-7)


Spring - Four Pictures (1907-8)

Summer - Cycle of Three Pictures (1907-8)


Image:Laivas.Debesys.jpg|Cloud BoatImage:Praeitis.jpg|The PastImage:Zemaiciu_koplytstulpiai.jpg|Crosses in ŽemaitijaImage:Karaliu pasaka.JPG|Kings' Fairy Tale (1908-1909)Image:Mikalojus Ciurlionis - Tranquility (Ramybe).jpg|Tranquility (1904-1905)Image:Angelas.Preliudas.jpg|Preludes and Fugues. Angel. Prelude



  • Stasys Goštautas (editor), Čiurlionis: Painter and Composer, Vaga, Vilnius, 1994

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