From the animism era, Estonians have inherited a large collection of distinctively structured verse songs. Most of Estonia’s heritage is preserved through old folk songs and legends that were “sung down” (rather than handed down) from generation to generation.

They were only written down during Estonia’s first period of independence (1918 – 1939). The later period between the two world wars was crucial in preserving and popularising Estonian folklore. During that time all legends, songs and beliefs were carefully gathered and examined to better understand their meanings.

These songs cover the whole life cycle from birth to marriage, death and the afterlife. They were also used to accompany everyday work.

New national composers and writers have created their works based on those findings, among them Eevald Aav, Eugen and Villem Kapp composing operas about national heroes. Eduard Tubin created the ballet “Kratt” and various symphonies.

Choirs became important way of communities to culturally interact and Estonian choir music is very distinctive in the way it uses harmony and national texts. Songs have important role up to this day and Estonian Song Festival is best place to experience that choir music.

Estonia has many annual folk festivals like Võru Folk and Viljandi Folk Music Festival where singers and musicians from all over the world gather and perform songs from different cultures and belief systems. They also play and act different riddles, legends and myths.