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The 100th Anniversary of Lūcija Garūta


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dhibbard
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« on: October 25, 2016, 08:34:35 pm »

From
http://garuta.lv/en/
   
 
The 100th Anniversary of Lūcija Garūta, Latvian Pianist and Composer


It might be said that time puts everything in its place. And time has shown how the sensitive yet strong personality of Latvian pianist and composer Lūcija Garūta (1902 – 1977) has shaped itself in the public consciousness. Rather than fading in memory, she has gained greater clarity in the eyes of those who knew her. It was her personality alongside her music that constituted the second most significant value that she has left us. For this reason, our interest in her music extends beyond to her attitude towards life.

 

We think of Lūcija Garūta now as a classic composer, as a representative of traditional values. But let us not forget that she was in her time, a modern person. Her work in music began almost at the same time as the founding of Latvia as a country and she was one of the first graduates of the Latvian Conservatory in both piano and composition. Only a year later she found the opportunity to spend six months in Paris. After a year made a return trip.

She was also one of the first women in Riga who could be seen at the wheel of an automobile.

 

Every two years she organized her own compositional evenings with soloists; performing other modern composers of the time as well. In this capacity, Lūcija Garūta accompanied at least 100 Latvian singers. For example, in 1931 she organized three modern vocal music concerts, which included the works of Prokafijev, Stravinsky, Schonberg, Hindemith, the Spaniard Manuel de Falja, the Finnish Yrjo Kilpinen and others.

 

When the Arthur Honegger symphonic work Pacific 231 was first performed (and criticized) in Riga – its music mimicking an American locomotive – Lūcija Garūta for the first time involved herself in press polemics to defend the new trends in music. She believed that every era gave art different material to work with. In the same manner that Schubert’s “traveler” used a walking stick to get about, other means of mobility can never be foreign to music. Thus, Lūcija Garūta was inspired from the first transatlantic flights by airplane to write a libretto and compose an opera about traveling between the stars. The opera is aptly named the Silver Bird. It contains an interesting scenario where human love turns to ruin from people’s selfishness. In 1938 the Latvian National Opera almost performed the Silver Bird but the Latvian love for caution, coupled with fear or unwillingness to take up risk, were the main reasons for cutting the path short for this opera. Another reason might have been a worker’s strike scene in the work. A year before 1961, when the first person defied the earth’s gravity and was lifted into the cosmos, Lūcija Garūta reworked the Silver Bird. But again it was rejected by the opera establishment of its day. Lūcija Garūta also reflected the war time era of 1943 and 1944 when she wrote and participated in the opening performance of her cantata God, your land is aflame based on the poem by Andrejs Eglītis. This cantata would only be heard again in Latvia after fifty years; performed and recorded instead on the other side of the iron curtain.

After the war, Lūcija Garūta worked as a professor at the Latvian Conservatory and it was here that I had the privilege of studying under her. Once again, I need to emphasize the uncommon sensitivity and tactfulness of Lūcija Garūta’s personality. It was impossible to simply walk by or have a passing chat. One needed to prepare thoroughly for a conversation with her – an experience worth celebrating. If a student faltered in his or her studies, she was overcome by deep sadness or sympathy. If a student had willingly committed inappropriate behavior, she was insulted to the depths of her heart. At other times, when she ought to have taken a harsh stance or raise her voice, she armed herself with a smile – nothing more. One can then only imagine the heavy sorrow that Lūcija Garūta felt when her Piano-concert was not performed for five years. But for what reason? In 1951, two years before the death of Stalin, the Communists applied their “conflict-less” dogma to the Arts. This embodied the idea that in the drive towards Communism: life is not bad. Everything is only good and can only be better. Therefore, there could be no conflict, no emotional contrast, not to mention tragedy or the expression of personal feelings. The Piano-concert, which Lūcija Garūta had written in memory of her niece, was deemed unwanted by the Soviet people, an unnecessary ranting of feelings. However, when it was performed in February of 1956, the whole audience was awash with feeling. This was because Latvian music for many years had not made an appearance without the official facade of stated emotion or simulation. In its open expression of emotion, it was for its time almost a shock. Here we find some defining features of Lūcija Garūta’s music: open emotion, a hurtful soul not hidden but displayed openly. She simulated nothing. And that conflicted with the aesthetic requirements of the system with its shallowness and untruths. Indeed, one needed much strength to survive such conditions. This underscored another feature of her personality: her will power in an otherwise weak physical body.

Latvians have been enriched by many outstanding women in the arts. For example, in 1906 Marija Gubene was the first Latvian woman to acquire an academic music education at the Moscow Conservatory. Perhaps amongst educators in Western Europe one provocative question might be: “Why do you discriminate against women because none of your woman has expressed either intellect or scholarly knowledge?” Proponents of such questions are unaware of Latvian woman writers like Aspazija or Zenta Mauriņa. Within the intellectual world of Latvian high art, Lūcija Garūta has taken her readily defined and rightful place.

 

Arnolds Klotiņš, musicologist

Text translated in English by Edvīns Ivsiņš

Mūzikas saule; 2002; maijs

Ievadvārdi, 2000.gada maijā RLB, ievadot LŪCIJAS GARŪTAS FONDA atklāšanas koncertu

 
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cjvinthechair
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2016, 08:56:30 am »

An interesting read - thank you, Mr. Dave !
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Clive
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2016, 10:33:54 am »

Indeed very informative.
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Toby Esterhase
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2017, 02:06:03 am »

Dear Mr Hibbard
Should be this:
http://reiniszarins.com/
Best
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cjvinthechair
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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2017, 01:31:53 pm »


Nice link on his site to a recent YT video of Arturs Maskats Piano Concerto... completed this year, it appears.
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Clive
Toby Esterhase
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« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2017, 04:25:17 pm »

New issue:
http://skani.lv/en/catalogue/?cd=lucija-garuta-music-for-piano&icd=34
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dhibbard
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« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2017, 04:52:19 pm »


Thanks Toby for that find.  I'll order in December.
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