The Destinies program of evening cultural events celebrated the birthday of Lithuanian musician and composer Dr. Leonidas Melnikas last Thursday, May 11.
The evening began at the Jascha Heifetz hall at LJC headquarters in Vilnius with the airs of a tango, an overflow crowd and the birthday boy smiling on stage. Leonidas Melnikas is a piano player, organ player, musicologist, a tenured doctor, the head of his cathedral at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theater, chairman of the academy’s senate and professor. He’s also a member of the board of directors of the Lithuanian Jewish Community. He turned 60 Thursday.
The birthday celebration was part of the Destinies program of evening cultural events initiated and organized by LJC deputy chairwoman Maša Grodnikienė, who used the occasion to honor the memory of Melnikas’s father Isaiah Melnik, who would have turned 110 that same day. He was a well-known pharmacist at the Vilnius Central Pharmacy (on what is now Gedimino prospect) and at the Žvėrynas Pharmacy in Vilnius, where he made his own preparations in his time. He survived both Stutthof and Dachau. He was beloved by all and was a calm and warm person who enjoyed attending all sorts of concerts. His son Leonidas’s musical career began when his mother took him to the Ąžuoliukas school. His first teacher was the famous pianist Nadežda Duksdulskaitė. “My entire childhood was illuminated by my parents, the very best, the very wisest people, and family remains extremely important to me,” Melnikas said of himself before embarking on a performance of tango melodies with violinist Boris Traub, cellist Valentinas Kaplūnas and accordion player Gennady Savkov.