Author Topic: Latvian composers  (Read 14225 times)

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Offline Maciek

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Latvian composers
« on: July 14, 2008, 04:07:31 PM »
This is (probably, no way to check) a revification of a similar thread we had on the old forum.

The only two names that pop in my head right away are Peteris Vasks and Imants Kalniņš, but I'm sure I would remember one or two more if I searched my memory thoroughly enough.

Vasks even has his own thread on GMG:
Peteris Vasks (born 1946)

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2008, 02:39:33 AM »
Janis Ivanovs wrote 21 symphonies! I know Nos. 1-5, 8, 10, 12, 20. Tuneful, folk-inspired, attractive music!

Two other Latvian symphonists are Adolfs Skulte and Romualds Kalsons. Never heard anything by them though!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2008, 03:12:31 AM »
I was collecting the Janis Ivanovs set on Campion before it went the same way as Olympia's Miaskovsky series (now revived by Alto.) I like much of Ivanovs music and would recommend symphonies 8 and 20 on Naxos as an introduction. It would probably appeal to admirers of Miaskovsky. Symphony no 11, one of Ivanovs's finest never made it to CD thanks to some dispute between the 90 year old conductor and the record company.

I greatly enjoy the Symphony No 2 by Vasks. one of my favourite symphonies by a living composer (others are Arnell's symphony 3 and 5, Bedford's Symphony 1 and Ross Edward's "Da Pacem Domine" - discovered, along with much else, thanks to Andre). Vasks's Symphony No 3 takes off from where No 2 ends. It is a fine score but not quite as moving as the end of No 2.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2008, 11:37:06 AM »
The only one i know is Vasks, his violin concerto is really beautiful!

Offline Christo

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2008, 12:32:29 PM »
I should look for my shelf of Latvian composers - there are actually as many Latvian composers as there are, since the birth of their respective modern nation states around WW I, e.g. Irish, Norwegian or Estonian composers - but a few names spring to mind.

Generally considered the father of the Latvian national school, Jāzeps Vītols (in his Russian years operating under the Germanized form of his name as "Joseph Wihtol" (1863-1948), founder of the Riga conservatory, still has his working room there kept completely intact as a kind of memorial museum (as I observed during a visit to Riga). He died as a refugee in Germany in 1948. Before the Latvian independence (1918/20), he worked at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory as a close colleague of Glazunov, the successor of Rimsky-Korsakov, and apparently his pupils included Prokoviev and Myaskovsky [! Vandermolen!].

Except for some choral pieces, I know his music mostly from a Marco Polo CD with a symphonic poem, Sprīdītis (1907), a Fantasy on Latvian Folk Tunes for violin and orch (1910), the orchestral suite  Dargakmeni (Jewels, 1924), reminding a bit, both for its theme and for the music, of Bliss' Colour Symphony from the same time, and an orchestral ballad, Rudens Dziesma (Autumn Song, 1927), dedicated to another leading Latvian composer, Janis Medins (1890-1966), the dominant Latvian opera composer of the interwar years, and also a war refugee who saw his carreer ended as a result. 

The Marco Polo CD with the orchestral pieces by Jāzeps Vītols:
                                                                                      
« Last Edit: August 04, 2008, 11:35:52 PM by Christo »
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2008, 02:23:22 PM »
I should look for my shelf of Latvian composers - there are actually as many Latvian composers as there are, since the birth of their respective modern nation states around WW I, e.g. Irish, Norwegian or Estonian composers - but a few names spring to mind.

Generally considered the father of the Latvian national school, Jāzeps Vītols (in his Russian years operating under the Germanized form of his name as "Joseph Wihtol" (1863-1948), founder of the Riga conservatory, still has his working room their kept completely intact as a kind of memorial museum (as I observed during a visit to Riga). He died as a refugee in Germany in 1948. Before the Latvian independence (1918/20), he worked at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory as a close colleague of Glazunov, the successor of Rimsky-Korsakov, and apparently his pupils included Prokoviev and Myaskovsky [! Vandermolen!].

Except for some choral pieces, I know his music mostly from a Marco Polo CD with a symphonic poem, Sprīdītis (1907), a Fantasy on Latvian Folk Tunes for violin and orch (1910), the orchestral suite  Dargakmeni (Jewels, 1924), reminding a bit, both for its theme and for the music, of Bliss' Colour Symphony from the same time, and an orchestral ballad, Rudens Dziesma (Autumn Song, 1927), dedicated to another leading Latvian composer, Janis Medins (1890-1966), the dominant Latvian opera composer of the interwar years, and also a war refugee who saw his carreer ended as a result. 

The Marco Polo CD with the orchestral pieces by Jāzeps Vītols:
                                                                                      

I am taking this as a recommendation, Johan, and have ordered the Marco Polo CD via Amazon. Just when I think "no more CDs to be ordered this month"..... :)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2008, 11:43:30 PM »
I should look for my shelf of Latvian composers - there are actually as many Latvian composers as there are, since the birth of their respective modern nation states around WW I, e.g. Irish, Norwegian or Estonian composers - but a few names spring to mind.

Generally considered the father of the Latvian national school, Jāzeps Vītols (in his Russian years operating under the Germanized form of his name as "Joseph Wihtol" (1863-1948), founder of the Riga conservatory, still has his working room there kept completely intact as a kind of memorial museum (as I observed during a visit to Riga). He died as a refugee in Germany in 1948. Before the Latvian independence (1918/20), he worked at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory as a close colleague of Glazunov, the successor of Rimsky-Korsakov, and apparently his pupils included Prokoviev and Myaskovsky [! Vandermolen!].

Except for some choral pieces, I know his music mostly from a Marco Polo CD with a symphonic poem, Sprīdītis (1907), a Fantasy on Latvian Folk Tunes for violin and orch (1910), the orchestral suite  Dargakmeni (Jewels, 1924), reminding a bit, both for its theme and for the music, of Bliss' Colour Symphony from the same time, and an orchestral ballad, Rudens Dziesma (Autumn Song, 1927), dedicated to another leading Latvian composer, Janis Medins (1890-1966), the dominant Latvian opera composer of the interwar years, and also a war refugee who saw his carreer ended as a result. 

The Marco Polo CD with the orchestral pieces by Jāzeps Vītols:
                                                                                      

Johan, I already have this CD. It featured as background music for an audio book I was listening to in the car (Anna Karenina) which I enjoyed. I haven't properly listened to it yet but will do so now. Long Live Marco Polo !
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Christo

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2008, 01:49:50 AM »
Johan, I already have this CD. It featured as background music for an audio book I was listening to in the car (Anna Karenina) which I enjoyed. I haven't properly listened to it yet but will do so now. Long Live Marco Polo !

Actually, using it as background music isn't that bad an idea. Instead of posting as a madman, I better first listen to the music before. I now only played the CD afterwards again, probably for the first time in a decade, and found out that:
a) Vītols belongs very much to the post-Rimski school and sounds like the gentler side of Glazunov mostly;
b) my association with Bliss' Colour Symphony is hardly justified by the music of the Dārgakmeņi (Jewels) Suite. Only the agitato one minute of `Rubies' caused it, probably, but the amethysts, emeralds, pearls and diamonds are all sounding very much as described under a).

Hope Colin won't blame me too much after he finds out what his latest investment really sounds like ....  :-\

Now playing: a collection of all-time Latvian classics (not called Dārgakmeņi, but Dārgumi in Latvian):

             
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Christo

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2008, 04:07:15 AM »
Regarding Pēteris Vasks, I just read that he's `Composer of the Week' on our (Dutch) Radio 4.

Which means that one can hear his music from Monday till Friday, each day from 7.30 till 8.00 PM. (But they seldom play anythings special in that series, so it will be just a selection of the wellknown CD recordings of his his music, that I myself happen to own mostly).
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2008, 05:21:44 AM »
Don't worry, Johan :) The Vitols CD was cheap on Amazon so no harm will be done :)

Offline Christo

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2008, 01:34:26 AM »
Let me drop another name, here. I've always been curious after especially the symphonies of Talivaldis Kenins (1919-2008) who passed away last January. He left Latvia for Canada during the war and became essentially a Canadian composer. I remember there was a CBC 4-CD set with his music, including one or two symphonies, in the past, but could never find it, and it's no longer advertized at Amazon.

The main reason for my curiosity is a remark by Paul Rappoport that stuck to my mind, for he described Kenins somewhere as "the greatest Latvian composer of all time".  (I doubt whether he knew that many other Latvian composers btw, but still. After all, we may thank Rappoport for his plea for e.g. Brian, Vermeulen and Holmboe in a time nobody had heard of these composers.)

Which Canadian in this forum can perhaps tell us some more?
                                                                                 
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2008, 05:24:31 AM »
As you know, Johan, I am not Canadian :) but there are CDs of music by Kenins available from the Canadian Music Centre-

http://www.musiccentre.ca/apps/index.cfm?fuseaction=composer.FA_dsp_biography&authpeopleid=566&by=K

Offline Christo

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2008, 05:44:23 AM »
As you know, Johan, I am not Canadian :)

Many thanks, Colin! I observed that the 4 CD box I mentioned is still there, in disguise, containing the Fourth Symphony.

No: you're definitely not from Nova Scotia, but a very Scottish Scot, if you allow me!  ;) :D

… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2008, 06:19:55 AM »
Thanks, Johan ;D

There is quite a lot about some some aspects of Scottish life and culture I don't like but I suppose that I do sound Scottish(in a middle-class sort of way :)) And wherever in the world I go, I do feel that I have come home when I return to Scotland :)

There is-on the other hand-a very great deal about England that I love-the rolling acres of countryside in East Anglia, the Cotswolds, cricket, church architecture-but I am not English and never will be :) I could never give up the spectacular Scottish mountains for example!

Not that a love of mountains can be typically Dutch, can it? :-\

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2009, 04:08:12 PM »
Have really been enjoying this CD recently. Both symphonies are better than I originally thought and possess considerable depth. The slow movement of No 8 has a wistful theme which has been going round my head all day. I wish that the fine Symphony 11 was on CD.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2009, 05:36:48 AM »
I am developing a greater admiration for Janis Ivanov's music. As with Miaskovky there is not so much surface appeal but much of the music has considerable depth. I find myself playing it more often (symphonies 2,3,4,5,8,12 and 20). Also his charming film score 'Late Frost in Spring' could be a popular classic if better known.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2009, 05:40:21 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Christo

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2009, 06:45:14 AM »
Not that a love of mountains can be typically Dutch, can it? :-\

Well, but why not?  8)

When I was born, in 1961, the highest peak in my country was higher than the Mont Blanc, that I once saw from my bike. I mean Mount Carstenz (4.884 metres) as it was then known, after a Dutch explorer who came there as the first European, early 17th Century. Its summit was first climbed in 1962. We're, of course, talking about Papua New Guinea. ;)

Then our highest peak became the Juliana Top, with 1230 metres. But after the independence of Surinam ;) I had to consent myself with the Vaalserberg, about 322 metres high.  It is lovely, though  ;) and we're happy with it, especially since it's almost four metres higher than Estonia's Suur Munamägi (`Great Egg Hill'), a summit I climbed too, in order to write a message in the guest book about our national superiority regarding mountain peaks.  ;) I didn't climb Latvia's highest peak, Mount Gaiziņkalns (312 metres), though. Otherwise I would have left a similar message there.  ;D

Hope to play Janis Ivanovs, Latgale's (or Latgalia's) most famous composer, soon!
« Last Edit: April 15, 2009, 08:02:56 AM by Christo »
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2009, 10:11:50 AM »
I wrote in jest, Johan :) On my travels around Norway the Europeans who I encountered most often were Dutch tourists in their camper vans :) Some Dutch travellers appear to love mountainous country. I wonder why ;D

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2015, 12:50:48 AM »
One of my best CD discoveries of this year. I know the Vasks Symphony 2 from the  fine earlier release on Ondine and I consider this symphony to be the finest written by a living composer. The other two works were completely new to me and I had not heard of either composer. 'Merry-Go-Round' notwithstanding its title ends in a kind of Baxian twilight world and 'Visions of Arctic: Night' by Esenvalds is a haunting and memorable clarinet concerto with a beautiful section which sounds like the bird-song Epilogue of Honegger's 'Liturgique' Symphony. Haven't got time to write more about this CD now but thought I would at least mention it as I enjoyed it so much and am sure that others will too:

"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Christo

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Re: Latvian composers
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2015, 07:43:20 AM »
One of my best CD discoveries of this year. I know the Vasks Symphony 2 from the  fine earlier release on Ondine and I consider this symphony to be the finest written by a living composer. The other two works were completely new to me and I had not heard of either composer. 'Merry-Go-Round' notwithstanding its title ends in a kind of Baxian twilight world and 'Visions of Arctic: Night' by Esenvalds is a haunting and memorable clarinet concerto with a beautiful section which sounds like the bird-song Epilogue of Honegger's 'Liturgique' Symphony. Haven't got time to write more about this CD now but thought I would at least mention it as I enjoyed it so much and am sure that others will too:


I had seen this CD before, for reasons you can guess  8), and also because I actually had a superficial meeting with Ēriks Ešenvalds in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw when one of his choral pieces was premiered there, so I'm strongly aware of his beautiful Passion music, but this concerto is new for me. So, no, I cannot longer resist it and will order.  :)
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948