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Goldšteins, Edmunds (1927 - 2008)

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"All genres of my creative output have been influenced by the brilliant sonorities of folklore. The folk song represents a record of Latvian life, a code of its ethics, its morality and its sense of virtue, and an inexhaustible fountain of creativity. As long as the folk song lives, so will the Latvian people."

Edmunds Goldšteins


Edmunds Goldšteins was born on 19 September, 1927, in Liepāja. He began piano lessons at the age of ten with teacher Treikāne, then Marija Meirāne, and from 1939–1940 with Zenta Irbīte at the Liepāja People’s Conservatory. At the same time he gained musical experience playing harmonium and piano in the Sunday school orchestra of the Zion Church Congregation. In 1940 he moved to Riga to enrol in the Latvian State Conservatory, where he studied in the piano classes of Pauls Šūberts (1940–1944) and Arvīds Daugulis (1944–1946), and from 1943 to 1944 in Jāzeps Vītols’ composition and theory class. He resumed composition studies from 1947–1948, at the Jāzeps Mediņš Music College (originally a music secondary school connected to the Latvian State Conservatory), with Valentīns Utkins and Mendelis Bašs. In 1948, he again enrolled in the Latvian State Conservatory, in the composition class of Ādolfs Skulte, from which he graduated in 1953, and further studied the piano with Valērijs Zosts. From 1945 to 1947 he worked as a pianist in the State Puppet Theatre, and from 1955 to 1970 in the Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra. Intermittently from 1945 to 1980 he played with various popular and jazz orchestras and ensembles, and for many years was also a piano accompanist at the Latvian State Conservatory (1951–1957) and the Latvian Academy of Music (1987–2001). He died on 6 October, 2008.

As a composer, he has focussed on choral music, instrumental chamber music (especially various unusual wind ensembles) and symphonic music, as well as gaining popularity with lighter songs. Several larger works have been dedicated to the memory of friends and family (the Second Symphony was written in memory of his dead daughter and the Violin Concerto for his childhood friend, the conductor Arvīds Jansons). He follows in the footsteps of Jēkabs Graubiņš as a representative of the new folklore wave and has gained particular note for his folk song arrangements (mainly songs from Latgale), which are characterized by a broad, natural grasp of folklore contrasted with a refined polyphonic sense. The work Laivenieka meita biju (The Boatman’s Daughter, from Three Latvian Folk Songs for kokle and chamber orchestra) won a prize in the 1981 International Radio Competition in Bratislava. He has collected folk music in many regions of Latvia, and in the 1980s he was an initiator of the record series Latviešu folklora (Latvian Folklore).
He has gained recognition as an interpreter of contemporary chamber music. He founded a trio together with the violinist Jānis Bulavs and the flautist Juris Ābols, that during its existence (1987–1993, Jānis Bulavs being replaced in the later years by Aldis Krumovics) premiered many opuses dedicated to them by Latvian composers (Juris Ābols, Juris Karlsons, Vilnis Šmīdbergs, Artūrs Grīnups and others). In other chamber music ensembles he has played works by contemporaries such as Maija Einfelde, Romualds Jermaks, Pēteris Vasks and Imants Zemzaris. He has also written for various journals, including Literatūra un Māksla (later known as Literatūra. Māksla. Mēs), as well as Literatūra un Māksla Latvijā. In 2006, he completed writing his memoirs.

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