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Culture of Lithuania


Various cultural changes occurred throughout Lithuania's transformation from a former country of the Soviet Union to an independent Baltic state. Lithuanian is Lithuania's official language, and most Lithuanians are Roman Catholics. Folk is an influential genre on Lithuanian music, literature, and film.


Art and museums

Lithuania's art community is famous for Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875–1911). Čiurlionis was a nationally renowned musician and artist in Lithuania.

His symphonic compositions, Jūra ("The sea") and Miške ("In the forest"), were the first full length pieces from a Lithuanian musician. Jūra ("The sea") and Miške ("In the forest") were composed to represent Lithuania's landscape.

After Čiurlionis's death, the 2420 Čiurlionis asteroid honors his achievements after being discovered in 1975.

A large number of museums exist in Lithuania. The Lithuanian Art Museum was founded in 1933 and is the largest museum of art preservation and display in Lithuania.

The Palanga Amber Museum is a subsidiary of the Lithuanian Art Museum. Various amber pieces comprise a major part of the museum.

In total, 28,000 pieces of amber are displayed, and about 15,000 contain inclusions of insects, spiders, or plants.14 Some 4,500 amber pieces in the museum are used for artwork and jewelry.

A future museum, Vilnius Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, will present exhibitions of new media art, parts of the New York City anthology film archive, and Fluxus art. The museum is scheduled to open in 2011.

The Lithuanian Museum of Ancient Beekeeping displays various forms of bee hives. The Grūtas Park contains Soviet-era relics and statues including those of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin.


Lithuania has a long history of folk, popular and classical musical development. Lithuanian folk music is based primarily around polyphonic music played on flutes, zithers (kanklės) and other instruments.


Lithuanian folk music is based around songs (dainos), which include romantic, wedding songs, as well as work songs and more archaic war songs.

Traditional vocal music is held in high esteem on a world scale: Lithuanian song fests and sutartinės multipart songs are on the UNESCO's representative list of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Folk songs were performed either in groups or alone, and in parallel chords or unison. Duophonic songs are common in the renowned sutartinės tradition of Aukštaitija.

Another style of Lithuanian folk music is called rateliai, a kind of round dance.

Instrumentation includes kanklės, a kind of zither that accompanies sutartines, rateliai, waltzes, quadrilles and polkas, and fiddles, (including a bass fiddle called the basetle), a kind of whistle called the lumzdelis and, similar in sound to clarinet, birbyne ; recent importations, beginning in the late 19th century, including the concertina, accordion and bandoneon.

Sutartinė is accompanied by the skudučiai, a form of panpipes played by a group of people, as well as wooden trumpets (ragai and dandytės).

The kanklės is an extremely important folk instrument, which differs in the number of strings and performance techniques across the country.

Other traditional instruments include the švilpas (whistle), drums and tabalas (a percussion instrument like a gong), sekminių ragelis (bagpipe) and the pūslinė (a musical bow made from a pig's bladder filled with dried peas).


In the 1980s, rock bands Foje, Antis, and Bix made a big impact in Lithuania. In 1987, 1988 and 1989 Lithuania saw several big rock festivals, such as Roko Maršas. Roko Maršas was connected to the ideology of Sąjūdis.

From 2000s on, the most popular band in Lithuania used to be SKAMP. Happyendless and Jurga became internationally popular and put Lithuania spot on the map for quality music.
Cinema and theatre

Lithuania has a lively drama scene. Many film festivals exist, such as Kino Pavasaris and the AXX Commercial Film Festival Contest.

Film tradition has emerged throughout Lithuania's occupation by the Soviets.17 A popular Lithuanian film classic is Velnio Nuotaka, which is based upon folk tales.18

A major theater in Lithuania is the Lithuanian National Drama Theater. Another theatre, the Vilnius Little Theatre, was founded by Rimas Tuminas.

Vilnius Little Theatre produces Shakespeare plays and other productions.18 Actors are being taught in the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, which was founded in 1919 by Juozas Naujalis as the Kaunas Music School. The academy was renamed in 2004.19

Several directors are important to Lithuania's theatre scene. Eimuntas Nekrošius is a major part of Lithuania's theatre movement and has a theatre company, Meno Fortas. He has produced Shakesperian plays, such as Macbeth, Othello, and Hamlet.

Oskaras Koršunovas is another acclaimed contemporary director, producing musicals, studio performances, and plays, including Hamlet and Midsummer Night's Dream.


The first channel in the Lithuanian language was introduced in 1957. Lithuania has 8 main channels, 24 regional channels and 2 non-Lithuanian channels, with Lithuanian language translation. The national channel is LTV (Lietuvos televizija; Television of Lithuania).


There are eighty Olympic and non-Olympic sports federations in Lithuania. Among the most popular sports in Lithuania are basketball, football, athletics and cycling.

Professional sportsmen and trainers are educated in the Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education.On October 1, 1932, the Department of Physical Education and Sports was founded. The department supports Lithuanian athletics and promotes physical education.

Lithuania's National Olympic Committee supports Lithuania's Olympic athletes and is led by Arturas Poviliunas.

Discus throw Olympic athlete Virgilijus Alekna is a two-time gold winner and medalist. Alekna was named UNESCO Champion for Sport in 2007.

Lithuania's national basketball team, football team and rugby union team compete internationally.

The country has produced several world-class basketball players, such as Arvydas Sabonis, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas and Linas Kleiza.

Literature and journalism

Lithuania's literature is based upon folklore tradition. Song books began publishing in the sixteenth century.

The first Lithuanian book was Katekizmas (Simple Words of Catechism) by Martynas Mažvydas in 1547.

A archival site of Lithuanian literature and folklore is the Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore in Vilnius. The Institute was built in 1904 and consists of two buildings.23

Newspapers and magazines are popular in Lithuania. Lithuania's biggest selling newspaper is Lietuvos Rytas. Whereas, Respublika and Vakaro Zinios are tabloid magazines.

English language magazine publications are translated into Lithuanian for local consumers.

Architecture and housing

Several famous Lithuania-related architects are notable for their achievements in the field of architecture.

Johann Christoph Glaubitz, Marcin Knackfus, Laurynas Gucevičius and Karol Podczaszyński were instrumental in introducing Baroque and neoclassical architectural movements to the Lithuanian architecture during the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.

Lithuania is also known for numerous castles. About twenty castles exist in Lithuania. Some castles had to be rebuilt or survive partially. Lithuanian village life has existed since the days of Vytautas the Great. Zervynos and Kapiniškės are two of many ethnographic villages in Lithuania.

Forty percent of Lithuania's population live in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Alytus, Panevėžys, and Šiauliai. Even though population density has grown within Lithuania, overall, population has declined due to low birth rates and higher death rates.

Between 1996 and 2001, the World Bank financed the Lithuania Energy Efficiency Housing Project to renovate thermal temperatures in some of Lithuania's houses, due to Lithuania's cold climate.