Pēteris Vasks

Born in Latvia in 1946, Pēteris Vasks studied double bass and composition before embarking on an orchestral career. As a composer during the Soviet period, he suffered under the repressions of Russian cultural doctrine; however, his works have since achieved widespread international recognition. His violin concerto Distant Light, premiered in 1997 by Gidon Kremer, has been performed widely. He has won the Latvian Great Music Award on three occasions: for Litene in 1993, Distant Lightin 1998 and 2nd Symphonyin 2000. Viatore and Cantabile for string orchestra have entered the repertoire and enjoyed performances by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Norwegian National Opera Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic among many others.

Vasks’ compositions incorporate archaic, folklore elements from Latvian music and place them within a dynamic and challenging relationship. The works are frequently given programmatic titles based on natural processes. However, Vasks does not intend for these to be merely poetic praise of nature or showy tone painting, but rather to highlight complex themes such as the interaction between man and nature, the beauty of life, and the imminent ecological and moral destruction of the world, which he expresses in musical language. Frequent reference is made to his personal biography and the recent history of suffering on the part of the Latvian people.

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© Mélanie Gomez (Schott Music)