The great composer Peteris Vasks (16.04.1946.) was born in Aizpute (Latvia) in the family of baptist pastor. He attended Emils Darzins Music School in Riga (1959-1964), where he studied double bass and produced first compositions. Vasks continued his studies in double bass at Lithuanian Conservatory in Vilnius together with Vytautas Sereika where he graduated in 1970. From than on he worked in several postitions – Latvian Philharmonic Orchestra (1966 – 1969), Lithuanian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra (1969 – 1970), Latvian Radio and Television Orchestra (1971 – 1974). During these years Vasks developed deep interest in composition and started composition studies with Valentin Utkin at the Latvian Music Academy in Riga (1973-1978).
During the following years he worked as a music teacher in Jelgava, Zvejniekciems, Salacgriva and Emils Darzins Music School. Due his beliefs and convictions Vasks suffered the soviet cenzorship, however gained widespread recognition after the fall of Soviet Union. At present moment his works are performed by renowned musicians all over the world. It may be argued that to understand Vasks music is to understand Latvian language, spirit and soul.
Vasks has recieved Vienna Herder Prize of the Alfred Toepfer Foundation (1996), Latvian Grand Music Award (1997), Cannes Classic Award (2004) and many others. His most important works, just to name a few are “Viatore”, “Symphony No 2” “Latvia”, “Litene”, “Voices”, “Music for a deceased Friend”, “Cantabile”, “Musica dolorosa”, “Bass Trip” and five string quartets of whom the 4th and 5th were written for the Kronos Quartet.
- “Cantabile Per Archi” for string orchestra (1979)
- “Musica Dolorosa” for strings (1983)
- simphony for twenty strings “Voices” (1991)
- Concerto for violin and string orchestra “Distant Light” (1996-1997)
Today Peteris Vasks continues his work and lives as a freelance composer in Riga, Latvia.