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Dambis, Pauls (1936)

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Pauls Dambis
Pauls Dambis
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Pauls Miervaldis Dambis – composer, teacher, conductor – was born on June 30th, 1936 in Riga. He studied at the Riga 15th Primary School, and the 1st Children’s Music School. From 1952, he studied organ performance with Estere Didrihsone, the organist at the Riga St. Paul’s Church. In 1954, he enrolled and, until 1957, studied at the Jelgava College of Music Choir Conducting department with Jānis Kaijaks. During this time, he played the organ at the Jelgava St. Anna Church, he was the artistic director of the Jelgava region culture centre, as well as the conductor of many choirs, and wrote about musical questions for the newspaper Zemgales Komunists.

From 1957 to 1962, he studied in the composition department of the Latvian State Conservatory, where he graduated the class of Valentīns Utkins with the cantata Dzimtenes ūdeņi sauc (The Waters of the Homeland Call). During his studies, he was the lead conductor of the choirs of Ludza, Limbaži, and Jūrmala, as well as leading a vocal trio and being their piano accompanist. From 1960 to 1962, P. Dambis was the director of the Drama Theatre music division, and from 1964 to 1968, he was the sound director and composer for the TV film union Telefilma Rīga. As of 1966, P. Dambis is a member of the Latvian Composers’ Union, and was deputy director of the board (1968-1978), and director of the board (1984-1989). From 1972, he was a lecturer at the Latvian State Conservatory, later, at the Latvian Academy of Music, as of 1979, an associate professor, from 1987 to 1993, a professor of the composition department, from 1982 to 1989 – also the director. Among his students were: Leons Amoliņš, Ilona Breģe, Selga Mence, Valdis Zilveris, Marina Gribinčika, among others. P. Dambis taught composition also at the Emīls Dārziņš College of Music (1962-1974) and as of 1994, he teaches it to students of the Riga Dome Cathedral Choir School.

In 1990, he finished art management studies at City University, New York, in the United States, and in 1994 – music direction studies at Institut für Musik und ihre Didaktik in Flensburg, Germany. From 1993 to 1994, he was the music director in the state of Schleswig-Holstein in the city of Egebeck, Germany. As of 1994, he teaches music history and art management courses at the Latvian Academy of Culture, as of 1998, he is a professor there. From 1991 to 1993, P. Dambis was the chairman of the Latvian Music School Teachers’ Association. As of 1994, he is a member of the Latvian Academic Teachers and Scientists’ Union.

P. Dambis has won awards at the Soviet Union young composers competitions in 1971 and 1975. He has won awards for his music for the films Dzīvais māls (Living Clay, 1966, Kiev), Bez leģendām(Without Legends, 1968, Moscow); theatre productions: Aleksandr Vampilov’s Pīļu medības (Duck Hunting, 1976, Moscow), William Shakespeare’s Karalis Līrs (King Lear, 1977, Moscow) and William Shakespeare’s Hamlets (Hamlet, 1988, Leningrad). In 1990, he was awarded 2nd prize at a music competition in the United States, in 1991 he was given an award by the Latvian Composers’ Union. In 1995, he was awarded a grant by the LKF (Stockholm), in 1997, a grant in music from the World Association of Free Latvians. In 2000, he was awarded first place in the International Nordic composer’s Competition in Oslo. From 1970 to 1996, many P. Dambis author concerts were given in Riga and many different former Soviet Union cities, as well as in the United States, the Czech Republic, Canada, and Germany.

In 1975, P. Dambis was awarded the honour of Latvian SSR Great Artist, and in 1987, the title of Latvian SSR People’s Artist. In 2019, he received the Latvian Great Music Award. Rūta Celma’s film newsreel Māksla (1987, no. 4) was dedicated to him. As of 1991, P. Dambis regularly writes about music questions in the newspapers Laiks and Latvija Amerikā.

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