Composers and Authors /

Kaminskis, Valters (1929 - 1997)

Biography   Works  

Composer and teacher, one of the leading Latvian vocal music composers in the 1950s and 1960s. With his first works appearing together with the beginning of a political thaw in the Soviet Union, he favoured a concrete approach to genre, accented descriptive elements, and spurned the traditionalism prevalent in Latvian music at the time. The boldness and scope of his vocal-symphonic music and works for male voice choir, as well as the thematically concrete, lyrical quality of some of his a cappella choral works, added a refreshing note to the relatively uniform and emotionally modest nature of much of the vocal music of the 1950s. Later, in the 1960s, his music occasionally reverted towards traditional sentimentalism.
Born in Riga, Kaminskis studied composition at the LSC with Adolfs Skulte, graduating in 1953. He then taught at the Jazeps Medins Music School in Rīga until 1958, at the LSC (1965–1967), and later at the Alfreds Kalnins Music School in Cesis. His creative output includes a number of ballets, a musical, and various shorter orchestral works, around ten cantata / oratorio-type choral works with accompaniment, solo songs and a cappella choral music, as well as popular songs. His choral style is essentially narrative with melodic declamation an inherent component. Even his lyrical works often have an underlying narrative element, and thus generally avoid subjective psychological treatment and chromaticism, giving priority to a pictorial style and the tonal colour of ancient folk music. His choral texture too is often descriptive or dialogic in nature. His work in the genre of folk music arrangements for choir also merits attention. The use of linear counterpoint and polytonality in his arrangements of the 1950s was perceived at the time as an innovative step in the development of this genre in Latvia.

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