Heino Eller (7 March 1887 – 16 June 1970) was an Estonian composer and composition teacher.
Eller was born in Tartu, where he took private lessons in violin and music theory, played in several ensembles and orchestras, and performed as violin soloist. In 1907 he entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory to study violin. From 1908 to 1911 he was a law student. In 1920 Eller graduated from the conservatory renamed to Petrograd Conservatory.
From 1920 to 1940, Eller was a professor of music theory and composition at the Tartu Higher School for Music. During this time he formed the Tartu school of composition, which gave rise to many composers, including Eduard Tubin.
In 1940 he became a professor of composition at the Tallinn Conservatory and taught there until his death in 1970. He was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1967.
Eller was a legendary teacher of composition. The school he formed in Tartu counterbalanced the so-called Tallinn school headed by Artur Kapp. Eller’s pedagogical talent is versatile. The list of his pupils offers the best proof of this: each of them has created a distinguished original style.
Among his students were:
Eller primarily composed instrumental music. His symphonic works, especially Koit and Videvik, break new ground for Estonian symphonic music. His musical language contains many national traits, but he was influenced by 20th-century styles as diverse as impressionism and expressionism.
- Dawn, Tone Poem (1915–1918, 1920)
- Twilight, Tone Poem (1917)
- Moderato sostenuto in D minor for voice, viola and piano (1921)
- Elegia for harp and string orchestra (1931)
- Concerto in B minor for violin and orchestra (1937)
- Five Pieces for string orchestra (1953)