Peteris Vasks

Internet Edition compiled by Onno van Rijen

Updated 5 December 2013


Born

16 April 1946 in 1946 in Aizpute (Latvia).

Education

At Music College in Riga. At Lithuanian Conservatory in Vilnius (until 1970; double-bass under V. Sereika). At Latvaian Conservatory in Riga (from 1973-1978; composition under V. Utkins).

Principal Works

Orchestral music (Symphonic Poems for orchestra), chamber music (wind quintet, string quartet, sonatas, etc.), piano music (In Memoriam for 2 or 4 pianos (1977), Eine kleine Nachtmusik (1978), Autumn Music (1981), etc.) and vocal music (Tomtis Message for female chorus (1982), Latvia, chamber cantata (1987), Zemgale, cantata for mixed chorus (1989), etc.

Style

Vasks's music contains archaic-folkloristic elements of the Latvian music. His works are mostly programmatic and often deal with the relation between human and nature, the beauty of life and the threatening ecologic and moral destruction of these values.

Masterworks

Symphony for twenty strings "Voices" (1991) - CD Teldec 3984-22660-2
Concerto for violin and string orchestra "Distant Light" (1996-1997) - CD Hyperion CDA 67496
"Musica Dolorosa" for strings (1983) - CD Phoenix PHCD 159
"Cantabile Per Archi" for string orchestra (1979) - CD Finlandia 4509-97893-2

Photo: Milan Wagner

Works

Aria e danza for flute and piano (1972)
Revised in 2010.
Duration: 11 minutes.
CD Naxos 8.572634: Michael Faust (flute), Sheila Arnold (piano)
"Tris Skandarbi (Three Pieces)" for clarinet and piano (1973)

Music for two pianos (1974)

Duration: 12 minutes.
Partita for cello and piano (1974)
Revised in 2001.
Duration: 13 minutes.
"Liepa (The Lime Tree)" for female chorus a cappella (1975-1992)
Text: Peteris Zirnitis.
"Mate Saule (Mother Sun)" for mixed chorus a cappella (1975)
Text: Janis Peters.
"Madrigal" for soprano and mixed chorus (1976)
Text: Claude de Pontoux.
"In Memoriam" for two or four pianos (1977)

"Moments Musicaux" for clarinet (1977)

"Musu Masu Vardi (Our Mothers's Names)" for mixed chorus a cappella (1977)

Text: Maris Caklais.
"Ne Tikai Lirika (Not Only Poetry)", song-cycle for female chorus a cappella (1977)
Text: Vitauts Ludens.
Quintet "Music for Fleeting Birds" for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn (1977)
CD Olympia OCD 282: Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble, V. Ponkin & A. Vinogradov (cond)
String Quartet No. 1 (1977)
CD Conifer Classics 75605-51334-2 review: Miami Quartet
Toccata for two pianos (1977)
Duration: 5 minutes.
"Baltais Fragments (White Fragment)", poem for male chorus (1978)
Text: Maris Caklais.
Concerto vocale for mixed chorus (1978)
Text: Maris Caklais.
"Peak Hour (Main-trafic-time)" for orchestra (1978)

"A Little Night Music" for piano (1978)

"Vasara (Summer)" for female chorus a cappella (1978)

Text: Leons Briedis.
CD Ondine ODE 1194-2: Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Klava (cond)
"Gramata Cellam (The Book)" for cello (1978)
Conifer Classics 75605-51272-2 review: Kristine Blaumane (cello)
"Cantabile Per Archi" for string orchestra (1979)
CD Conifer CDCF 236 (75605-51236-2) review: Riga PO, Kriss Rusmanis (cond)
CD Finlandia 4509-97893-2 review: Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Juha Kangas (cond)
CD Telarc CD 80457 review: Orchestra of Flanders "I Flamminghi", Rudolph Werthen (cond)
CD UPE Classics 750404001726: Liepaja SO, Imants Resnis (cond)
Concerto for timpani and four percussionists "Concerto per timpani e strumenti di percussione" (1979-1986)

"Drei Blicke", free choice of instruments (1979)

"Klusas Dziesmas (Silent Songs)" for mixed chorus a cappella (1979-1992)

CD Ondine ODE 1194-2: Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Klava (cond)
Cantata for harpsichord (1980) DL>
CD Reference Recordings RR 106: Joel Fan (piano) "Landscape with Birds" for flute solo (1980)
Duration: 8 minutes.
Conifer Classics 75605-51272-2 review: Dita Krenberga (flute)
CD Naxos 8.572634: Michael Faust (flute)
"Skumja Mate (Sad Mother)" for female chorus a cappella (1980-1991)
Text: Gabriele Mistral.
CD Ondine ODE 1194-2: Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Klava (cond)
"White Scenery (Die Jahreszeiten I)" for piano (1980)

"Autumn Music (Die Jahreszeiten IV)" for piano (1981)

Ganu Dziesma (Shepherd's Song)" for female chorus a cappella (1981/1989)

"Kekatu Dziesma (Carnival Song)", folksong arrangement for female chorus (1981)

"Ziles Zina (Message of a Titmouse)" for female chorus a cappella (1981)

Text: Uldis Berzins.
CD Ondine ODE 1194-2: Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Klava (cond)
Quintet "In Memory of a Friend" for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn (1982)
Conifer Classics 75605-51272-2 review: Riga Wind Quintet
"Touchings" for oboe (1982)

"Ugunssargs (Forest Ranger)", poem for mixed chorus a cappella (1982)

Text: Maris Caklais.
"Vestijums (Message)" for four percussionists, two pianos and sixty strings (1982)
Duration: 15'
First Performance: 9 April 1983 in Riga by the Latvian State SO, J. Zirnis (conductor)

CD Conifer CDCF 236 (75605-51236-2) review: Riga PO, Kriss Rusmanis (cond), N. Novik & R. Kharaianian (piano)

"Musica Dolorosa" for strings (1983)
CD Conifer CDCF 236 (75605-51236-2) review: Riga PO, Kriss Rusmanis (cond)
CD Telarc CD 80457 review: Orchestra of Flanders "I Flamminghi", Rudolph Werthen (cond)
CD Teldec 0630-14654-2 review: German Chamber Philharmonic, Gidon Kremer (violin)
CD ECM New Series 1620 (453 512-2) review: Stuttgarter Kammerorchester, Dennis Russell Davies (cond)
CD Phoenix PHCD 159: ARCO Chamber Orchestra, Levon Ambartsumian (cond)
"Cantus Ad Pacem" for organ (1984)
Duration: 19 minutes.
CD Alba ABCD 325: Tuomas Pyrhonen (organ)
String Quartet No. 2 "Vasaras dziedajumi (Summer Tunes)" (1984)
CD Caprice CAP 21635 review: Riga String Quartet
CD Collins Classics 1475-2 review: Duke Quartet
CD Conifer Classics 75605-51334-2 review: Miami Quartet
"Episodi e Canto Perpetuo" for violin, cello and piano (1985)
Hommage à O. Messiaen.
Parts:
1. Episodio I: Crescendo - 2 min 30 sec.
2. Episodio II: Misterioso - 4 min.
3. Episodio III: Unisono - 1 min 30 sec.
4. Episodio IV: Burlesca I - 3 min 30 sec.
5. Episodio V: Monologhi - 3 min 30 sec.
6. Episodio VI: Burlesca II - 3 min 30 sec.
7. Episodio VII: Canto perpetuo - 6 min 30 sec.
8. Episodio VIII: Apogeo e Coda - 4 min.
Total duration: 28 minutes.

CD Cascavelle VEL 3071: Trio Animae: Tomas Dratva (piano), Jean-Christophe Gawrysiak (violin), Dieter Hilpert (cello)
CD Conifer Classics 75605-51272-2 review: Latvian Philharmonic Trio
CD Hanssler Profil PH12045: Boulanger Trio: Karla Haltenwanger (piano), Birgit Erz (violin), Ilona Kindt (cello)

"Mazâ Vasaras Muzika (Little Summer Music)" for violin and piano (1985)
Parts:
1. Breit, klangvoll - 1 min. 30 sec.
2. Nicht eilend - 1 min. 30 sec.
3. Energisch - 1 min. 30 sec.
4. Traurig - 3 min.
5. Heiter - 1 min. 30 sec.
6. Breit, klangvoll - 2 min. 30 sec.

CD BIS BIS CD 1392: Vadim Gluzman (violin), Angela Yoffe (piano)

"Lauda" for 90 players (1986)
CD Conifer CDCF 236 (75605-51236-2) review: Riga PO, Kriss Rusmanis (cond)
CD Telarc CD 80457 review: Orchestra of Flanders "I Flamminghi", Rudolph Werthen (cond)
Sonata for double bass (1986)

"Latvija", chamber cantata for soprano, flute or alto flute, bells and piano (1987)

Text: Anna Rancane.
"Pavasara Sonate (Spring Sonata)" for two violins, two violas and two celli (1987)

"Mazi Silti Svetki (smaal, Warm Holiday)" for female chorus a cappella (1988)

Text: Janis Baltvilks.
CD Ondine ODE 1194-2: Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Klava (cond)
"Musica Seria" for organ (1988)
Revised in 2008.
Duration: 15 minutes.
CD Alba ABCD 325: Tuomas Pyrhonen (organ)
"Musu Dziesma (Our Song)" for female chorus a cappella (1988)

"Musique du soir" for waldhorn and organ (1988)

Concerto for english horn and orchestra (1989)

CD Conifer CDCF 236 (75605-51236-2) review: Riga PO, Kriss Rusmanis (cond), Normunds Schnee (english horn)
CD Wergo WER 67052: Sinfonietta Riga, Normunds Sne (conductor)
"Varonis (The Hero)" for mixed chorus a cappella (1989)
Text: Zinaida Lazda.
"Zemgale", dramatic poem for 12-part mixed chorus (1989)
Text: Mara Zalite.
"Sava Tauta (In His Nation)" for mixed chorus a cappella (1990)
Text: Andrejs Eglitis.
"Vientulibas Sonate (The Sonata of Loneliness)" for guitar (1990)

Symphony for twenty strings "Balsis (Voices)" (1991)

CD Conifer 75605-51271-2 review: Riga Philharmonic Orchestra, Jonas Aleksa (cond)
CD Finlandia 4509-97892-2 review: Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Juha Kangas (cond)
CD Telarc CD 80457 review: Orchestra of Flanders "I Flamminghi", Rudolph Werthen (cond)
CD Teldec 3984-22660-2 review: Kremerata Baltica, Gidon Kremer (cond/violin)
CD Ondine ODE 1005-2: Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, J. Kangas (cond)
"Te Deum" for organ (1991)
Duration: 13 minutes.
CD Alba ABCD 325: Tuomas Pyrhonen (organ)
CD BIS CD 561: Hans-Ola Ericsson (organ)
Fantasia "Izdegusas zemes ainavas (Landscapes of the Burnt-Out Earth)" for piano (1992)
Conifer Classics 75605-51272-2 review: Inara Zandmane (piano)
Sonata for alto flute or flute (1992)
Duration: 12 minutes.
CD Naxos 8.572634: Michael Faust (flute & alto-flute)
"Liténe", ballad for 12-part mixed chorus (1992-1993)
Text: Uldis Berzins.
Concerto for cello and orchestra (1993-1994)
CD Conifer 75605-51271-2 review: Riga Philharmonic Orchestra, Jonas Aleksa (cond), David Geringas (cello)
CD Ondine ODE 1086-5 (SACD): Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, John Storgards (cond), Marko Ylonen (cello)
"Pater Noster" for mixed chorus a cappella or with string orchestra (1991-1995)
Liturgical text.
Duration: 4 minutes.
"Pavasara Muzika (Spring Music)" (Die Jahreszeiten II) for piano (1995)
Duration: 18 minutes.
Three Poems for countertenor, two tenors and baritone (1995)
Text: Czeslaw Milosz.
String Quartet No. 3 (1995)
CD Caprice CAP 21635 review: Riga String Quartet
CD Conifer Classics 75605-51334-2 review: Miami Quartet
"Musica Adventus" for string quartet (1995-1996)
CD Finlandia 3984-29718-2 review: Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, Juha Kangas (conductor)
CD Wergo WER 67052: Sinfonietta Riga, Normunds Sne (conductor)
"Dona Nobis Pacem" for mixed chorus and strings (1996)

Concerto for violin and string orchestra "Tala Gaisma (Distant Light)" (1996-1997)

CD Hyperion CDA 67496 review: Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Anthony Marwood (cond/violin)
CD Ondine ODE 1005-2 review: Tampere PO, J. Storgards (cond & violin)
CD Phoenix PHCD 153: ARCO Chamber Orchestra, Lewis Nielson (cond), Levon Ambartsumian (violin)
CD Teldec 3984-22660-2 review: Kremerata Baltica, Gidon Kremer (cond/violin) "Fassung" for mixed chorus and organ (1997)

Arrangement of "Fassung" for mixed chorus and seven instruments (1997)

Symphony No. 2 (1998-1999)

CD Ondine ODE 1005-2 review: Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, J. Kangas (cond)
String Quartet No. 4 (1999)
First part: Being present; Second Part: So distant ... yet near.
Duration: 33 minutes.
Commissioned for the Kronos Quartet by Mrs. Ralph I. Dorfman.
First performance: 19 October 2005 in Tallinn by the Kronos Quartet.

CD Nonesuch 7559-79695-2: Kronos Quartet
CD Estonian Record Production ERP 5912: (Arr.Mikhel Kerem) Prezioso String Quartet

Missa for mixed chorus a cappella or with organ (2000)
Duration: 33 minutes.
Composition for stringorchestra (2001)
First performance: 9 December 2001 in Rotterdam by I Flamminghi, R. Werthen (cond)
"Lidzenuma ainavas (Plainscapes)" for mixed chorus, violin and cello (2001)
Duration: 15 minutes.
First performance: 28 March 2002 in the Minoritenkirche in Vienna by "KAMER"-Chor, conducted by Mariss Sirmais, Gidon Kremer (violin) and Marta Sudabra (cello)
CD Ondine ODE 1194-2: Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Klava (cond)
Piano Quartet (2001)
Duration: 30 minutes.
Revised in 2002.

CD Solo Musica SM 119: Ensemble Raro
CD ULMA 123: RIX Piano Quartet: Sandis Šteinbergs & Ilze Klava (violins), Reinis Berzieks (cello), Janis Maleckis (piano)

Musica Appassionata (2002)
First performance: 1 July 2002 at the Korstholm Music Festival in Finland by the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Juha Kangas.
Bass Trip for double bass solo (2003)
Duration: 10 minutes.
Viatore for organ (2002-2004)
Hommage a Arvo Paert.
Duration: 16 minutes.

CD Alba ABCD 325: Tuomas Pyrhonen (organ)
CD Wergo WER 67052: Sinfonietta Riga, Normunds Sne (conductor)

Canto di Forza for twelve cellos (2005)
Duation: 11 minutes.
First performance: 13 September 2005 in Frankfurt, Germany by the Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Canto di Forza for organ (2006)
Duration: 13 minutes.
CD Alba ABCD 325: Tuomas Pyrhonen (organ)
Missa for mixed chorus and string orchestra (2000-2005)
Duration: 33 minutes.
First performance: 9 November 2005 in the Cathedral of Helsinki by the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra and the Tapiola Chamber Choir, directed by Juha Kangas.
Symphony No. 3 for large orchestra (2004-2005)
Duration: 45 minutes.
First performance: 25 November 2005 in Tampere by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by John Storgards.

CD Ondine ODE 1086-5 (SACD): Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, John Storgards (cond)

Meditation for violin and string orchestra (2006)
Duration: 12 minutes.
First performance: 3 July 2006 in the Dom Cathedral of Riga by Gidon Kremer (violin), conducting the Kremerata Baltica.
"Musu Masu Vardi (Our Mother's Name)" for mixed chorus a cappella (2006)
Duration: 7 minutes.
First performance: 30 August 2006 in the Priory Church of Riga by the Latvian Radio Choir, conducted by Sigvards Klava.
CD Ondine ODE 1194-2: Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Klava (cond)
"Sala", symphonic elegy for orchestra (2006)
Duration: 22 minutes.
Commission of the Magnum Opus Project "Meet the Composer".
First performance: 28 January 2007 in the Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium of San Rafael, California, USA by the Marin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alasdair Neale.
Concerto for flute and orchestra (2007-2008)
Duration: 34 minutes.
CD Naxos 8.572634: Sinfonia Finlandia Jyvaskyla, Patrick Gallois (cond), Michael Faust (flute)
"Piedzimsana (Birth)" for chorus (2008)
CD Ondine ODE 1194-2: Latvian Radio Choir, Sigvards Klava (cond)

Thanks to Dan Albertson and Holger Sambale for additional information.


The works of Peteris Vasks are published by Schott Verlag
For scores please contact Schott Musik in Germany.

Please send your comments

Return to Onno van Rijen's Soviet Composer's Page

Return to Onno van Rijen's Home Page