Traditional Latvian music is often set to traditional poetry called dainas , featuring pre-Christian themes and legends, drone vocal styles and Baltic psaltery.
Latvia, officially the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Since its independence, Latvia has been referred to as one of the Baltic states. It is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, Russia to the east, and Belarus to the southeast, and shares a maritime border with Sweden to the west. Latvia has 1,957,200 inhabitants and a territory of 64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi). The country has a temperate seasonal climate.
Music is an art form and cultural activity whose medium is sound organized in time. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch, rhythm, dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements. Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική . See glossary of musical terminology.
A daina or tautas dziesma is a traditional form of music or poetry from Latvia. Lithuanian dainas share common traits with them, but have been more influenced by European folk song traditions. Latvian dainas often feature drone vocal styles and pre-Christian themes and legends, and can be accompanied by musical instruments such as Baltic psalteries . Dainas tend to be very short and are usually in a trochaic or a dactylic metre.
Traditional Latvian folklore, especially the dance of the folk songs, date back well over a thousand years. More than 1.2 million texts and 30,000 melodies of folk songs have been identified.
Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the traditions common to that culture, subculture or group. These include oral traditions such as tales, proverbs and jokes. They include material culture, ranging from traditional building styles to handmade toys common to the group. Folklore also includes customary lore, the forms and rituals of celebrations such as Christmas and weddings, folk dances and initiation rites. Each one of these, either singly or in combination, is considered a folklore artifact. Just as essential as the form, folklore also encompasses the transmission of these artifacts from one region to another or from one generation to the next. Folklore is not something one can typically gain in a formal school curriculum or study in the fine arts. Instead, these traditions are passed along informally from one individual to another either through verbal instruction or demonstration. The academic study of folklore is called folklore studies, and it can be explored at undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. levels.
Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.
Dainas are very short, usually only one or two stanzas, unrhymed and in a four-footed trochaic metre. Lyrically, dainas concern themselves with native mythology but, in contrast to most similar forms, do not have any legendary heroes. Stories often revolve around pre-Christian deities like the sun goddess Saule, the moon god Mēness and, most notably, the life of people, especially its three most important events - birth, wedding and death (including burial). The first collection of dainas was published between 1894 and 1915 as Latvju Dainas by Krišjānis Barons.
A hero is a concept that may be found in classical literature. It is the main or revered character in heroic epic poetry celebrated through ancient legends of a people, often striving for military conquest and living by a continually flawed personal honor code. The definition of a hero has changed throughout time. Merriam Webster dictionary defines a hero as "a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities." Examples of heroes range from mythological figures, such as Gilgamesh, Achilles and Iphigenia, to historical figures, such as Joan of Arc, Giuseppe Garibaldi or Sophie Scholl, modern heroes like Alvin York, Audie Murphy and Chuck Yeager, and fictional superheroes, including Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.
A solar deity is a sky deity who represents the Sun, or an aspect of it, usually by its perceived power and strength. Solar deities and Sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms. The Sun is sometimes referred to by its Latin name Sol or by its Greek name Helios. The English word sun stems from Proto-Germanic *sunnǭ.
Saulė is a solar goddess, the common Baltic solar deity in the Lithuanian and Latvian mythologies. The noun Saulė/Saule in the Lithuanian and Latvian languages is also the conventional name for the Sun and originates from the Proto-Baltic name *Sauliā > *Saulē.
Latvju tautas mūzikas materiāli, translated in English as the Materials of Latvian Folk Music is the anthology and commentary of Latvian folk. It analysed 5999 items of Latvian ethnography published in 6 editions from 1894 to 1926 by the Latvian musicologist and composer Andrejs Jurjāns (1856–1922).
Andrejs Jurjāns was a Latvian composer and musicologist. He was Latvia's first classical composer, having composed instrumental pieces and cantatas. Jurjāns also studied and collected more than 6000 pieces of Latvian folklore, among them 3000 songs, which he compiled in six books, called Latvju tautas mūzikas materiāli.
Latvju tautas mūzikas materiāliSestā grāmata (the sixth book) was published posthumously in Riga, 1926. On page 1 latvju komponistu biedrības izdevums is inscribed, translated as the Latvian Society of Composers edition.
Accompaniment to the village songs is played on various traditional instruments, the most important of which is the kokles, a type of box zither related to the Lithuanian kanklės and other Baltic psalteries. In the 1970s, artists like Jānis Poriķis and Valdis Muktupāvels led a revival in kokles music, which had only survived in the Courland and Lettgallia regions. The Latvian-exile community abroad, especially in the United States, has also kept kokles traditions alive. In the last hundred years a new kind of kokles was developed, with many more strings, halftones levelers and other improvements that expand the capacities of the instrument to play not only modal music but, in other point of view, displeased more traditional musicians. This kind of instrument is called "concert kokles". However, there is currently only one maker of concert kokles left, though he is to begin training apprentices with the help of EU grants.
The box zither is a class of stringed instrument in the form of a trapezoid-shaped or rectangular, hollow box. The strings of the box zither are either struck with light hammers or plucked. Now, the most popular plucked box zither is the Arab qānūn and its various derivatives, including the harpsichord.
Lithuania, officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. Lithuania is considered to be one of the Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.8 million people as of 2019, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Other major cities are Kaunas and Klaipėda. Lithuanians are Baltic people. The official language, Lithuanian, is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family, the other being Latvian.
The kanklės is a Lithuanian plucked string instrument (chordophone) belonging to the Baltic box zither family known as the Baltic psaltery, along with the Latvian kokles, Estonian kannel, Finnish kantele, and Russian gusli.
Choir traditions are very strong in Latvia. Alongside many professional choirs, there are tens of thousands of Latvians who are part of different amateur choirs. Once every five years the Latvian National Song and Dance Festival takes place with around 20,000 singers taking part in it.
The 2014 World Choir Games took place in Riga.
This year (2019) Latvia hosts the inaugural Riga Jurmala Music Festival, a new festival in which world-famous orchestras and conductors perform across four weekends during the summer. The festival takes place at the Latvian National Opera, the Great Guild, and the Great and Small Halls of the Dzintari Concert Hall. This year features the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestra.
During the Soviet era, rock music became extremely popular, because it, as well as folk songs, offered a chance to rebel against the local authorities. Imants Kalniņš was the most important composer of the time, and his songs were extremely popular. He also wrote music for the movie originally called Četri balti krekli ('Four White Shirts'), later given the title Elpojiet Dziļi! ('Breathe Deep!'), which spoke about the need of freedom and was therefore banned. One of the most important social gatherings of the time was the annual Imantdiena ('The Day of Imants (Kalnins)'), forbidden on grounds of interfering with hay-gathering. The tradition continued informally at the composer's house.
The songs of Imants Kalniņš were best known as performed by the Menuets group which only played songs by this composer. Most of the members of the group moved on to form another group, Pērkons ('Thunder') later. Pērkons was a symbol of rebellion. They played fascinating rock and roll bordering on hard rock music, composed by band's leader Juris Kulakovs, using poems mostly written by Māris Melgalvs. Many of those were strongly disapproved by the Soviet authorities, as they implied the ridiculousness of the system. The most famous concert by Pērkons resulted in the destruction of a train compartment by the young people who had attended the concert. This, as well as other events, is portrayed in the movie Is It Easy to Be Young? by Juris Podnieks. Acts such as Pērkons certainly played an important role in the lives of the youth of the time and were a serious challenge to the Soviet system.
Nowadays, the pop music sphere is dominated by pop music (e.g., Prāta vētra, also known as Brainstorm) and alternative rock.
|Composers of contemporary music||Rock or (and) Pop||Other|
Gusli is the oldest East Slavic multi-string plucked instrument, belonging to the zither family, due to its strings being parallel to its resonance board. Its roots lie in Veliky Novgorod in Novgorodian Rus'. It may have a connection to the Byzantine form of the Greek kythare, which in turn derived from the ancient lyre, or might have been imported from Western and Central Europe during the Middle Ages, when the zither had immense popularity. It has its relatives in Europe and throughout the world: kantele in Finland, kannel in Estonia, kanklės in Lithuania, kokles in Latvia, Zitter in Germany, citera in Czechia, psalterium in France and so on... Furthermore, the kanun has been found in Arabic countries, and the autoharp, in the United States. It is also related to such ancient instruments as Chinese gu zheng, which has a thousand-year history, and its Japanese relative koto. A stringed musical instrument called guslim is listed as one of the Me in ancient Sumer.
Music of Serbia has a variety of traditional music, which is part of the wider Balkan tradition, with its own distinctive sound and characteristics.
Imants Kalniņš is a Latvian composer, musician and politician. Having studied classical, as well as choral music, he has written six symphonies, several operas, oratorios, cantatas, choir songs, a lot of movie and theater music. However, he is generally best known for his rock songs and is to be considered the first composer of intellectual rock music in Latvia.
Kokle or historically kokles (kūkles) is a Latvian plucked string instrument (chordophone) belonging to the Baltic box zither family known as the Baltic psaltery along with Lithuanian kanklės, Estonian kannel, Finnish kantele, and Russian gusli. The first possible kokles related archaeological findings in the territory of modern Latvia are from the 13th century, while the first reliable written information about kokles playing comes from the beginning of the 17th century. The first known kokles tune was notated in 1891, but the first kokles recordings into gramophone records and movies were made in 1930s. Both kokles and kokles playing are included in the Latvian Cultural Canon.
Inese Galante is a Latvian soprano opera singer. Galante is known for a great beauty of tone, nuanced pianissimos and sensitive command of dynamics and colour. Her performance of Vavilov's Ave Maria, from her "Debut" album 1995 started spreading worldwide interest in the piece.
Valdemārs Ozoliņš was a Latvian composer and conductor.
The culture of Latvia combines traditional Latvian and Livonian heritage with influences of the country's varied historical heritage.
Anna Krauja Čena is a lyric soprano from Latvia. Born in Riga, Anna Krauja was elected International Mini Miss in a competition at the Latvian National Theatre in 1993 and was the first Latvian child to win this award. At her appearance she sang a song by Latvian composer Imants Kalniņš and received also the audience award. This success encouraged her already in childhood to become a singer.
Liepāja Symphony Orchestra (LSO) is an orchestra located in Liepāja, Latvia. The group is among the oldest orchestras in the Baltic States, and was begun at the same time as the first Philharmonic in the Baltic in 1883.
Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, formerly the Riga Conservatory, is a higher education establishment of music at 1 Barona Street, Riga, Latvia. The junior institute is the Emīls Dārziņš Music School.
Jānis Mediņš was a Latvian composer. He was born in Riga. He was a vital force in musical life during the short-lived first independent Latvian republic (1918—40). He almost singlehandly established in his country both the balletic genre – with Mīlas uzvara – and the operatic with Uguns un nakts and Dievi un cilvēki. It was as a result of multiple invasions of his country that Mediņš left Latvia in 1944, eventually settling for good in Sweden.
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The Latvian National Opera, Riga, is the national opera of Latvia. The opera company includes the Latvian National Ballet (LNB), LNO Chorus, and LNO Orchestra.
Alfrēds Bruno Jānis Kalniņš was a Latvian composer, organist, pedagogue, music critic and conductor; the founder of national Latvian opera. Kalniņš is primarily remembered for his national opera Baņuta (1920).
Minjona is a women's choir based at the University of Latvia. The choir was founded in 1975 by artistic director Viesturs Gailis. In 1977, it was given the name "Minjona." In 2015, Minjona was named the 9th top women's choir in the world.
Rodrigo Fomins better known by the stage name Igo is Latvian singer, poet and composer of rock and other music styles.
Valdis Muktupāvels is a Latvian ethnomusicologist, composer, musician, teacher and doctor of art criticism.