Vytautas Landsbergis biography

VYTAUTAS LANDSBERGIS was born on October 18, 1932 in Kaunas, Lithuania. The son of architect Vytautas Landsbergis-Zemkalnis and eye doctor Ona Jablonskyte-Landsbergiene. In Kaunas, he completed gymnasium and the J. Gruodis School of Music. In 1950, Mr. Landsbergis entered the Lithuanian Conservatoire in Vilnius. He graduated from it in 1955 and has lived in Vilnius ever since. Mr. Landsbergis began his career as an educator while a student in Vilnius, from 1952, and remained in the teaching profession until his election as President of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania in 1990.

He has lectured at the M. K. Ciurlionis Music School, the Lithuanian Conservatoire, the Vilnius Pedagogical Institute and at affiliated Conservatoire departments in Klaipeda. Mr. Landsbergis defended his doctoral dissertation in 1969 and from 1978 to 1990, was a professor of music history at the Lithuanian Academy of Music. In 1994 he defended his thesis of doctor habilis there. Mr. Landsbergis has written ten books in musicology, art and music history (primarily monographs on the work of Lithuanian artist and composer M. K. Ciurlionis). He edited scores and recorded long-plays of Lithuanian piano music. Eight books of political texts and one of poetry also belong to Mr. Landsbergis. He was also well known for his role in community affairs: for a long time he was a member of the Executive Board and Secretariat of the Lithuanian Composers' Union and of other science and art councils as well as editorial boards. He continues to be President of the M.K. Ciurlionis Society and Honorary President of the Lithuanian Chess Federation. Mr. Landsbergis has received awards for his outstanding contributions to the music field among which there is the 1975 and 1988 Lithuanian (= soviet administration) State Prize for his monographs on the life and work of M. K. Ciurlionis and C. Sasnauskas. Since 1995 he is Chairman of the Organising Committee of the International M. K. Ciurlionis piano and organ competition, continuing it as Chairman of the non-profit organisation "M. K. Ciurlionis Competition".

On June 3, 1988, Mr. Landsbergis was elected to the Initiative Group of the Lithuanian Reform Movement "Sajudis" striving to liberate Lithuania from long-lasting (since 1940) Soviet occupation. During the Sajudis Founding Congress on October 22-23 he was elected to the Sajudis Seimas (Assembly) and the Seimas Council. On November 25, 1988, Vytautas Landsbergis was elected Chairman of the Sajudis Seimas Council. Since December 15, 1991, he holds the title of Honorary President of Sajudis. On May 1, 1993 the Lithuanian Conservative Party - Homeland Union was founded and Mr. Landsbergis was elected its chairman, re-elected in 1995, 1998 and 2000 and served in this capacity till 2003. Since 2004 – Chairman of Party Policy Committee of Homeland Union.

On March 26, 1989, Mr. Landsbergis was elected in the city of Panevezys to represent Lithuania in the USSR People's Deputies Congress. Following his election to the Supreme Council of Lithuania on February 24, 1990, Mr. Landsbergis was elected on March 11, 1990 to lead the Council as its President and serve as Head of State. He presided over the session of Parliament, which proclaimed the restoration of the independent Republic of Lithuania that day.

Mr. Landsbergis contributed as one of the leaders of the Council of the Baltic States (1990-1992) and in 1990-1991 was Chairman of the Commission for the New Constitution of the Lithuanian Republic, as well as of the State Delegation for the negotiations with the USSR. Under his leadership Lithuania resisted the armed violence and blockade of the USSR and achieved the international recognition for its restored independence and also an agreement with Russia to withdraw Russian troops from Lithuania.

After the elections in October-November, 1992, Mr. Landsbergis became a Member of Parliament and was then elected leader of the opposition in the Lithuanian Seimas (Parliament). He was also a member of the Lithuanian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as well as a member of the Lithuanian delegation to the Baltic Assembly.

During the elections in October-November 1996, Vytautas Landsbergis again became a Member of Parliament, and on November 25, 1996 he was elected President of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.

After the elections of October 2000, Vytautas Landsbergis became a Member of Lithuanian Parliament for the fourth time and was again a member of the Lithuanian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as well as a member of the Lithuanian delegation to the Baltic Assembly. In 2003-2004 he served as Observer to the European Parliament. Member of European Parliament since 2004. Vytautas Landsbergis is a member of the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, a Member of the Bureau of this Group. He is a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and a Subcommittee on Security and Defence. Vytautas Landsbergis is a substitute member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.

In 1991 Mr. Landsbergis received the Norwegian People's Peace Prize for his role in the restoration of Lithuanian independence, the Award of Fondation du Future (France), the International Freedom Foundation's (UK) 1991 Freedom Award. In 1992 he received Hermann-Ehlers-Preis, and in 1994, the 9-th International Ramon Llull Prize of the Catalonian Culture Congress Foundation. In 1997 Mr. Landsbergis was awarded the French Legion of Honour Order, second class. In 1998 he was awarded Vibo Valentia Testimony prize (Italy) for his contribution in Lithuanian liberation, Order of Grand Duke Vytautas, first class (Lithuania) and Royal Norwegian Order of Merit (Grand Cross). In 1999 Vytautas Landsbergis was awarded the Grand Cross Order of the Republic of Poland, UNESCO medal for the contribution in development of democracy and in the fight for human rights, Order of Merit (Grand Cross) of the Order of Malta, Grand Croix de l’Ordre de l’Honneur of Greece, Truman-Reagan Freedom Award (USA), in 2000 - Pleiade Ordre de la Frankophonie (France), in 2001 - Three Stars Order (2nd class, Latvia), in 2002 - Order of the Cross of St. Mary's Land (1st class) (Estonia), in 2003 - Order of Vytautas the Great, with golden collar (Lithuania) and Constitutional Medallion of the Saxonian Parliament (Germany); in 2005 – Robert Schuman Medal (EPP-ED, European Parliament); in 2006 - Merite Europeen Medal (Luxemburg).

With the help of the Norwegian People's Peace Prize, Mr. Landsbergis established the Vytautas Landsbergis Foundation, a non-profit, charitable organisation dealing with the care and education of handicapped children and young performing artists.

Mr. Landsbergis holds a Doctor of Laws from Loyola University in Chicago (USA), a Doctor of Humanities from Weber State University in Ogden (USA), a Doctor of Philosophy from Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas (Lithuania), a Doctor of Philosophy from Klaipeda University (Lithuania), a Honorary Member from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (Lithuania), a Doctor of Law from the Lithuanian Academy of Law, a Doctor of Political Sciences from Helsinki University, a Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University (UK), Honorary Doctor of Sorbonne University, Honorary Doctor of Lithuanian Academy of Art. In 1992 Mr. Landsbergis was nominated the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by Yale University (USA) but was unable to come to receive it. In 1997 he was elected academician of the Lithuanian Catholic Academy.

Mr. Landsbergis is married, with three children. Mrs. Grazina Rucyte-Landsbergiene is a well-known Lithuanian pianist and Professor of the Lithuanian Academy of Music. His daughters Jurate and Birute are also musicians, and his son, Vytautas, is a writer and filmmaker.