Pēteris Vasks

PĒTERIS VASKS (b.1946 in Aizpute, Latvia) is known for the archaic sounds of his music, which delves deep into Latvian folk music. He began writing music while studying the double bass at the Emīls Dārziņš Music School in Riga. Alongside a career as an orchestra musician, he continued his composition studies with Valentin Utkin at the Latvian Academy of Music in the 1970s.

Vasks’s output includes three symphonies (1991, 1999, 2005); he received the Latvian Great Music Award for his Second Symphony in 2000, having previously received the same award in 1998 for his violin concerto Distant Light. A disc containing both these works won the Cannes Classical Award in 2005. Vasks also frequently writes choral music and is interested in the narrative and political dimensions of music, as in the a cappella work Litene (1993), which sets a poem commemorating Latvian officers murdered by the Soviet Red Army (and was also a winner of the Latvian Great Music Award). His more recent well-received works include The Fruit of Silence (2014) and Da Pacem, Domine (2016).

In 1996, Pēteris Vasks was appointed composer-in-residence at the Stockholm contemporary music festival. He has also been composer-in-residence at music festivals in Presteignen (2006), the Vale of Glamorgan (2006, 2016), Usedom (2010) and Canberra (2012). Vasks received the State Cultural Award of the Republic of Latvia in 2016 and the Honorary Diploma of the Latvian President in 2019.

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