Introduction to Organ Music in Latvia

Latvia and especially Latvian churches have long-lasting traditions of organ building and playing. The oldest pipe organs that are located in small town Ugāle (near Ventspils) were built in 1701 by Cornelius Raneus, but the most famous and one of the world’s largest are located in Riga Dom (1882). At the time of construction it was world’s largest but now has stepped back to 3rd or 4th position to newer ones. Organ was built by E.F.Walcker&Co, a company that has built about 20 organs most of whom are still allive. Another famous organ builder was W. Sauer, who built almost the same number but smaller pipe organs. Unfortunatelly due to lack of new orders best Latvian organ builders are working as instrument repairers and tuners.

At present moment, there are only several well qualified masters (Juris Jerums, Viesturs Ilsuns, Roberts Hansons, Ligita Sneibe (1962), Talivaldis Deksnis (1946)) left. On the other hand, there are much more high-qualified organists – Vita Kalnciema (1959), Larissa Bulava (1960), Talivaldis Deksnis, Atis Stepins, Iveta Viluma (1976), Aivars Kalejs and Jevgenya Lisitina, Ilze Reine (1970), Aigars Reinis (1975) just to name a few. If you want to meet them, you should visit Latvian Academy of Music or other mucic education institutions.

Organ music would be unthinkable without composers and luckily enough Latvians have good composers. Baumanu Karlis (author and composer of National Anthem) composed a masterpiece for choir and organ “Our Father”, “Salaman’s book 3rd part”. It is also worth to mention Adams Ore “Pastorale”, J.G.Tepfer “Fantasy d-moll” and many works by Alfreds Kalnins. Even today some of the best players are also composing new works and thus keeping Latvian traditions alive in this postmodern era.