Biography highlights Andrejs Jansons’ achievements

Latvian composer Pauls Dambis has written a biography of Andrejs Jansons, Latvian American conductor, composer, arranger, oboist, among many other things, entitled Ārkārtējais pilnvarotais latviešu mūzikā (published by VESTA-LK, ISBN 978-9934-511-14-1, 135 pages).

The book traces Jansons’ childhood in Riga, flight to Germany during World War II and life in the DP camp at Esslingen, then arrival in the United States in 1949. Jansons studies oboe at Julliard, and continues his master’s studies in conducting at the Manhattan School of Music.

One of Jansons’ most enduring collaborations is with the New York Latvian Concert Choir, and he begins work with the newly re-founded choir (the choir had been no longer active due to the poor health of conductor Bruno Skulte) in 1975. Jansons, over time, becomes one of the most recognizable and respected conductors not just in the Latvian exile community, but then in Latvia as well, and he received the Latvian Order of the Three Stars in 1996.

Dambis details many of Jansons’ significant achievements – including conducting the premiere of the late Bruno Skulte’s symphonic poem Daugava at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Centerconducting the US premiere of Alfrēds Kalniņš’ opera Baņuta at Carnegie Hall, and Jansons’ musical theater work – composing songs for performances of Anšlavs Eglītis’ Homo Novus and Anna Brigadere’s Lolitas brīnumputns. Jansons also actively worked with promoting Latvian musicians in the United States, even during the era of Soviet occupation.

Andrejs Jansons returns to the Latvian National Opera on Thursday, October 8, to conduct Bruno Skulte’s opera Vilkaču mantiniece (the only performance of the opera this season).

For more information, please visit New York Latvian Concert Choir and the Vilkaču mantiniece performance page.

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area who lives in Rīga, Latvia. When not working in the information technology field, he sings in the Latvian Academy of Culture mixed choir Sõla, does occasional translation work, and has been known to sing and play guitar at the Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs in Old Rīga. Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

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