Library opens online exhibit about song festivals

An online exhibit showcasing the history of Latvian song festivals from 1864-1940 has been opened by the National Library of Latvia.

The exhibit, which includes a digitized and downloadable version of exile musicologist Valentīns Bērzkalns’s 559-page history Latviešu Dziesmu svētku vēsture. 1864 -1940, can be found at

The online exhibit is based on Bērzkalns’ book, according to library spokesperson Ilze Egle. His widow, Ženija Bērzkalne, gave the library permission to digitize the book. The book was published in 1965 by the New York-based Grāmatu Draugs.

Bērzkalns, born in Latvia in 1914, died in 1975 in Pennsylvania in the United States. A musicologist, composer and conductor, Bērzkalns also served as editor-in-chief of the journal Latvju Mūzika.

The online collection also includes downloadable song festival guides, biographies of musicians, programs and other material related to the festivals, which have been an important part of Latvian culture and society since they began in the late 19th century.

The library now is working on digitizing the second volume of Bērzkalns’ history, Latviešu Dziesmu svētki trimdā, focusing on song festivals outside of Latvia.

A reception to mark the opening of the exhibit is scheduled at 15:00 hours June 20 in the music section of the main National Library of Latvia building, Krišjāņa Barona iela 3, Rīga.

Song festival exhibit

An online exhibit about Latvian song festivals has been opened by the National Library of Latvia.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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