Famous people of Lithuania

Although Lithuania is relatively small country it has a lot of famous people in sports, art, science, politics and other.

Sports

Arvydas Sabonis (1964) is the most famous and the best ever Lithuanian former basketball player. His best achievements are: 3 times SSSR champion,  2 times European champion, 1 time World champion and 1 time Olympic Champion, one of the greatest centers in the world from 1980 to the end of its sportsmen career in 2003.

Šarūnas Marčiulionis (1964) is one of the best former Lithuanian basketball players and one of the first European players which was asked to play in NBA. His best achievements are: 1 time SSSR Junior Champion, 1 time European Junior champion, 1 time Olympic Champion, 2 times European vice champion.

Šarūnas Jasikevičius (1976) – Lithuanian basketball player, 4 times Euro league champion,  2 times Spanish Champion, 2 times Israel champion,  1 time Europe champion and 1 time Greece champion. Right now is playing in Athens “Panathinaicos” club.

Theatre, cinema

Jonas Mekas (1922) – Lithuanian film creator living and creating in New York. He is one of the leading personalities in avant-garde cinema in USA. Was awarded with Austrian sign of distinguishing, worked and closely interacted with such artists like Salvador Dali, Yoko Ono, John Lennon.

Eimuntas Nekrošius (1952) – world famous theatre director who was awarded with many international and national prizes like International premium of Baltic Assembly, prizes in Russia “Baltijskij dom”, “Golden Mask”,  Italy prize “Ubu”, Torune “Contact”, national orders of merit and premiums for developing Lithuanian culture abroad. His theatre “Art Fort” nowadays is on tour around the world.

Oskaras Koršunovas (1969) – one of the most interesting and famous Lithuanian theatre directors, who built up 30 performances and participated in more than 100 festivals.  He was awarded in Edinburg International Theatre festival with special prizes “Fringe Feast”, “Herold Angel”, with special prizes in Torune festival “Contact”, Zalcburg festival prize “ Young Directors Project Award” and many others foreign as wel as Lithuanian awards.

Rolandas Kazlas (1969) – Lithuanian theatre, cinema and television actor, comic. He was rewarded with the Golden Stage Cross for the best season drama role. The actor created many exceptional personages in theatre and cinema, in addition to this, his authorial TV shows were of great popularity in Lithuanian television.

Literature

Maironis (Jonas Mačiulis) (1862-1932) – Lithuanian poet and priest of 19-20th centuries. He wrote some famous Lithuanian poems like „Trakų pilis“  (Trakai castle),  “Lietuva brangi“ (Dear Lithuania). Most important his works are selection of poesy “Pavasario balsai” (Sounds of Spring), one historical drama trilogy, 6 poems, 2 librettos, many critiques of Lithuanian literature and history, translations.

Martynas Mažvydas (1510-1563) – Lithuanian writer of 16th century, author of first Lithuanian book “Katekizmas” (Catechism) and 5 other first Lithuanian books that were prepared and printed in Konigsberg (Karaliaučius in lit.) Appointed as a protestant parson in Ragainė, Mažvydas prosecuted literary works, translated documents, prepared a prayer book “Parafrazės” (Paraphrase).

Vincas Mykolaitis Putinas  (1893-1967)– one of the greatest Lithuanian poets and prosaists. Besides his prime choice of priest way, he ended pastorate and got married. He is an author of salient Lithuanian symbolical poesy and a novel “Altorių šešėly“ ( In a Shadow of Altars).

Jurga Ivanauskaitė (1961-2007) – one of the most talented Lithuanian women ever – prosaist, essayist, dramatists and painter. Her best known works are novels “Pakalnučių metai“ (The Year of Lilies in the Valley), „Ragana ir lietus“ (The Witch and the Rain), „Placebas“ (Placebo), „Miegančių drugelių tvirtovė“ (Citadel of Sleeping Butterflies). Her works were translated into many languages including English, German, Swedish. Great influence for her life and creation was made by Tibet culture. The writer was awarded with National Premium of Art and Culture, in 2007 in Lithuania she was dedicated to be a Woman of the Year.

Music

Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875- 1911) -  famous Lithuanian artist, musician and painter. Overall this great artist created more than 350 various musical artworks and about 500 paintings. Čiurlionis was the first Lithuanian artist which caught a great attention of foreign societies.

Violeta Urmanavičiūtė-Urmana  (1961) – lithuanian world famous opera prima donna, probably the most beautiful mezzo soprano in the world who sang in the most famous world opera stages in New York, Milan, Munich and so on. The famous singer was awarded with the prize of Royal Philharmonic Fellowship. Nowadays the prima donna lives in Germany.

Vytautas Kernagis (1951-2008) author and performer of Lithuanian music, bard, director of entertaining shows, TV show presenter. He was awarded by number of Lithuanian national prizes and orders for his artistry and creation. in 2009 a sculpture for memory of this great artist was erected in Nida.

Andrius Mamontovas (1967) – famous Lithuanian musician, actor, producer and photographer. Andrius Mamontovas was the establisher of legendary Lithuanian music band “Foje”. During his musician career he was awarded more than 20 times in Lithuania in various categories – the best singer, the best song, the best album of year an so on. In Shanghai film festival he was awarded with the prize of the best music for a film “Needless people” (“Nereikalingi žmonės“ in lit.) where he acted as a priest.

Politics

Jonas Basanavičius (1851-1927) – Lithuanian public figure, redactor of the first Lithuanian paper “The Dawn”, one of the most important militants for Lithuanian independence, scientist, doctor and free-thinker. He was the one who gave all efforts to regenerate Lithuanian independence and became the head of Lithuanian Council which declared the independence in 1918 February the 16th.

Vytautas Landsbergis (1932) – Lithuanian politician, public figure, historian of art, culture and music. 30 books – some  about art, analyzing Čiurlionis, others analyzing Lithuanian and foreign politics. The famous politician is a honoured protagonist of restitution of Lithuanian independence, awarded with many national and international peace and freedom prizes. Since 2004 he works as a europarliamentarian.

Valdas Adamkus (1926) – politician, 2 times president of Republic of Lithuania, during the second cadency he was the oldest president in the world. After the Second World War broke out, with a family he moved to USA. Many times he was awarded not only for political achievements, but for ecology works too in Lithuania, USA, Norway, Spain, Italy, Greece and many other countries, in addition to this, he is a Honor Doctor in number of academic institutions.

Algirdas Brazauskas  (1932) – the first president of reinstated independent Lithuania, the former leader of communist party. Always positively participated in political life, prime minister, chairmen of social democratic party.  Shortly interrupted his political life in 1998-2001, he later continued his work.  Nowadays this public figure does not participate in Lithuania governing, but still influences the party of social democrats.

Dalia Grybauskaitė (1956) – Lithuanian first woman president since 2009, Europe comissar, diplomat, former minister and vice minister in Lithuania of Foreign and Finance offices. Her talent and charisma in leading is very appreciates in Lithuania and foreign countries. She was awarded with many prizes for her activities, in 2008 she was elected as a Woman of the Year in Lithuania.

Science

Simonas Daukantas (1793- 1864) – lithuanian scientist and historian. He wrote many great volume works of Lithuanian history, created number of Lithuanian linguistic derivatives. Daukantas attempted to involve simple Lithuanian rustics into national life.

Marija Gimbutienė (1921 - 1994) – Lithuanian archeologist and anthropologist, the former of archeomythology and one of the most influential archeologists in the world who lived and worked in USA. In 1993 she was awarded with the premium of Anisfield-Wolf premium for a book “The Civilization of the Goddes: The World of Old Europe”. Overall Gimbutienė wrote 23 scientific books.

Rulers

Vytautas (1350-1430) – the Grand Duke of Lithuania, the Lithuanian political leader during whose ruling the Grand Duchy of Lithuania reached the greatest flourishing in Europe ever. Lithuania started rapidly developing during his ruling especially after the famous Grunvald battle ( Žalgirio mūšis).

Jogaila (1348-1434) – The Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland. During years of his ruling Lithuania was christened irreversibly and that was the start of real vesternization.  It is thought that ruling of Jogaila was the moment when polish language and culture started penetrating into Lithuanian statehood. His greatest military achievement was smashing the German order in Prussia.

Mindaugas (1200-1263) - the only one King of Lithuania. He was the leader who first united historical Lithuanian lands and that’s why Lithuania rose as a separate country.

Gediminas (1275 - 1341) – the establisher of Vilnius city, the Grand Duke of Lithuania, the ruler, who first formed Lithuania as a great European country. During his ruling the political blockade was eliminated and the military strength of Lithuania was reinforced.

Lithuanian descent

Robert Lee Zemeckis (1952) – Hollywood film director, one of the most famous people in the world of Lithuanian descent. In 1994 he was awarded with the Oskar as a director for the film “Forrest Gump”.  Other famous his works are trilogy “Back to the Future”, “Romancing the Stone”, “Death Becomes Her”.

Charles Bronson (1921- 2003) – the well known USA actor, whose real name was Karolis Bučinskis, born in USA in a family of Lithuanian emigrants. Amazing filmography of almost 90 films and great success in America and Europe proclaim the great talent of this actor of Lithuanian nationality.

Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987) – Jewish violin genius who was born in Lithuania. He distinguished in his virtuosity and emotionality, music hall could not handle the flow of those eager to listen to this genius. During his tours around the world he became one of the most famous and accepted musicians in the world. Playing Stradivario and Gvarnieri violins he enchanted the whole world.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) - Prussia philosopher, professor and academic of Lithuanian descent, the former of classical German philosophy. The well known philosopher he became for his book “Critique of Pure Reason", one of the most complicated works of philosophy ever, where there is declared that for the real knowledge both mind and sense are necessary.

Business

Juozas Petras Kazickas (1918) – Lithuanian businessman, consultant in economics. In 1994 he left Lithuania with his wife and moved to  Germany, later to USA where his first businesses were established. He founded the first communication company of private capital in Lithuania “Litcom”, later “Omnitel”. Nowadays Kazickas prosecutes charitable works and still expands his business. He was awarded with Medal of the Great Duke of Lithuania Gediminas, Order of the Rifleman’s Society, Medal of Honour of Ellis Island and other prizes.

Nerijus Numavičius (1967) – the richest Lithuanian businessman, owner of the greatest part of stock of the biggest concern of retail trade in Baltic States “VP Group”.  His possession is valuated in approximately 1 milliard litas.

Bronislovas Lubys (1938-2011) – this Lithuanian businessman is one of the richest people in Lithuania, holding 51% stocks of the second biggest concern in Lithuania “Achema group” (“Achemos grupė“ in lit.). He was awarded in many lithuanian prizes for his academic, cherishing and economic results. In addition, he was a sportsmen, a champion of handball in Lithuania.

Darius Mockus (1965) – he is one of the richest Lithuanian businessman, the only one owner of Lithuanian concern “MG Baltic”, general director of “MG Baltic Trade”, one of Lithuanian Free Market Institute establishers.

Find also famous people from foreign countries that have visited Lithuania:

> Top 10 Historical Country Leaders to Visit Lithuania

> Top 10 Historical Artists to Visit Lithuania