Olav Ehala (b. 1950) is foremost known as a songwriter and composer of film and theatre music. His songs (mainly from motion pictures, musicals and theatre productions) have become greatly popular. They are well known for many generations of Estonians, have reached the repertoire of national song celebrations and belong to the Estonian treasury of music. Music for children forms a considerable part of his output. In Ehala’s songs, equal importance is given to melody rich in embellishments, recognisable and idiosyncratic harmony and demanding rhythms. His music is written unexceptionally for texts in the Estonian language with his biggest sources being the poetry of Leelo Tungal and Juhan Viiding.
Olav Ehala graduated from the Tallinn Music School in 1969 and the Tallinn State Conservatory in Composition, studying under Eugen Kapp in 1974. From 1970–1973, Ehala was a leader of the ESSR State Philharmonic Variety Ensemble. He has worked in the State Youth Theatre as a musician (1970–1975) and music director (1975–1991). From 1991, Olav Ehala was a pedagogue at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (a docent from 1998, a professor from 2004) and from 2001–2014, he was the Chairman of the Estonian Composers’ Union. He has been a Council Chairman of the Estonian National Culture Foundation since 2016.
He has written music for more than 70 plays and 60 films. A large part of his theatre music was created for the State Youth Theatre where his collaboration with renowned Russian director Adolf Shapiro began. In the film sphere, his most fruitful has been his cooperation with Priit Pärn – Ehala has written music for almost all of Pärn’s animated films, all of which have been awarded many international prizes. In addition, Ehala performs as a pianist and belongs to several ensembles. He has a closer collaboration with the Kiigelaulukuuik Ensemble where he is active as a composer, pianist and arranger since 1989. For his diverse activity, Olav Ehala has been given many awards. Olav Ehala has over 19 author CDs.