I don’t know of many statues that show people thinking about something (except “The Thinker” of course, but we don’t know what he is thinking of.) In the case of the statue of Gustav Ernesaks, however, we are fairly sure what thoughts are going through his bronze head.
If you have been reading this blog, you would know about the “Singing Revolution” and how the Estonian people showed the USSR that there is strength in song. It was Gustav Ernesaks, more than any single individual, who kept alive the tradition of song and singing during the darkest days of the occupation. He was the one who convinced the authorities to keep the song festivals going, and he wrote songs that the people could sing, and he organized and conducted the RAM, the National Men’s Choir that brought these songs to all parts of Estonia.
When he died in 1991, the people of Estonia decided to erect a statue of him, and placed it at the back of the “lauluväljak”, or the “singing field”, where all the large song festivals are held. The statue is of him sitting, looking down at the field and the singing shell.
It is very imaginative of the artist to depict Ernesaks as if he is listening, instead of having him be majestically conducting or performing. And it looks to me that he is not only listening, but that he is also thinking. His thoughts seem far away from the song he is hearing. Perhaps he is contemplating his career and his contribution to the nation he helped to save from extinction.
Sometime in the early 1980s he had a chance to travel to the USA and he spent a few days with my dad, who was a boyhood chum. He told my dad that he had had a great career, but that it had been under the wrong flag. Now the singing festivals (the next one is next summer!) are once again under the right flag, and much of the credit for this goes to Gustav Ernesaks.