Juozas Domarkas was born 28 July 1936 in Varkaliai, Plungè district in west Lithuania. Having started his musical education in Klaipèda, he first studied clarinet at the Lithuanian State Conservatory (present Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre) under Juozas Jasenka (1955–60). He switched from clarinet to baton in 1957, when he became conductor with the Vilnius Wind Orchestra (present Trimitas). Aspiring to pursue conducting career and broaden his musical knowledge he went on to study conducting at the St. Petersburg Conservatory (1960–5) with Prof. Ilya Musin (1904–1999), a renowned teacher and founder of the modern Russian school of conducting. It was on his recommendation that Domarkas was chosen, in 1963, among the sixteen young conductors from all over the Soviet Union to have a unique opportunity to participate in the four-month master course in Moscow with the world-famous French conductor and composer Igor Markevitch (1912–1983).
Besides his busy concert schedule, Juozas Domarkas has been always concerned with the nurturing of an emerging talent. Since 1968 he has been teaching at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre where he has founded the Department of Orchestral Conducting and became its Head and Professor in 1995. He also served as a jury member at the international competitions for conductors, including Fitelberg (1991, 1995 and 2003) in Katowice, Poland, and Prokofiev (1993 and 1996) in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Juozas Domarkas became the last Lithuanian artist to be awarded with the People’s Artist of the Soviet Union title in 1986. His accomplishments in cultivation of Lithuanian musical culture have garnered him several highest national distinctions. In September 2006 he was awarded the Chevalier Cross Order of the Republic of Poland for his contribution into Polish-Lithuanian cultural collaboration.
“Juozas Domarkas really kept the hall under his command… The strong presence of the orchestra’s chief conductor left no doubt in his taste, technical finesse and the priorities of repertoire formation… An excellent stylist and the spiritus movens of the team…”
Daiva Tamošaitytè, Muzikos barai, 2006, No. 5-6
A long-standing artistic director and chief conductor of the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra (LNSO), one of Lithuania’s most experienced and influential conducting teachers and an accomplished performer having developed a distinctive manner of interpretation, Juozas Domarkas is like an invariable standard of artistic value.