The hillside house overlooking the river Neris where the Lithuanian expressionist composer Juozas Gruodis lived was in what were then bucolic surroundings, south-east of Kaunas. Today it is surrounded by fast-moving highways and approached by a slip road, its lovely views spoilt by tower-block housing but still partly shielded by an apple orchard bearing what must be its last crops (of pleasantly sweet fruit). Gruodis, who had lived there since 1932, died there in 1948, in eclipse, having attracted Soviet criticism after a successful career as a composer of piano and choral music, opera conductor, organizer of song festivals and director of the Kaunas Music School. Nevertheless, such was his importance that a memorial stone was erected in 1966 at the village of Rokenai, where he was born in 1884; his Kaunas house was opened as a memorial museum on the 100th anniversary of his birth, the music school was renamed in his memory and a bust was erected in the garden of the Kaunas Music Theatre.


Four rooms of the house are open to the public. Those on the right as you enter are presented as Gruodis would have known them: the ground-floor room combines dining- and sitting-room while above, on the first floor, are his study and music room, where small recitals occasionally take place. Across the hall on each floor are display rooms, chronicling his career and influence in collages of facsimile photographs and documents, copies of his music and recordings, awards, honorary degrees and 1984 commemorative medals, along with such personal possessions as his pen, watch, cane and flask.

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