On Monday July 25, the famous and beloved Latvian conductor, composer, oboist and kokle player Andrejs Jansons died in the United States, where he lived. His work and contribution to Latvian music and culture is enshrined in the history of song and dance celebration. People like him don’t die. Andrejs Jansons, his work and his personality will remain forever etched in our memory.
“He is one of the strongest pillars of Latvian music. Thank you for the years of cooperation during which he wrote many pages of scores of Latvian composers. And you have always been a man of your word. Now you remain in my memory,” musicologist Arvīds Bomiks wrote on Facebook.
The brilliant personality of Andrejs Jansons will remain in the hearts and memories of young people with whom he worked tirelessly, leading youth choirs in Katskiļu, Garezera, 2×2 and other summer camps, as well as celebrations of Latvian youth song. He often inspired young singers to sing only with his relentless passion.
Andrejs Jansons was born in Riga on October 2, 1938. Fate decided that he and his family would flee to Germany after World War II.
In the early post-war years, Latvians had their biggest “little Latvia” in exile in Esslingen, southern Germany, where the Jansons family remained until 1949, when they emigrated to the United States. United.
He received a musical education in Norfolk, Virginia, where he learned to play the oboe. Jansons remained faithful to this musical instrument for many years, while continuing his musical education at the Juilliard School. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in 1960. He then expanded his performance by playing the oboe at the Italian State Conservatory in Venice. He learned conducting at the Manhattan School of Music, earning a master’s degree in 1973. He studied musical composition at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he successfully defended his doctoral dissertation in 1986.
The musical biography of Andrejs Jansons is really rich. After graduating from the Juilliard School, he played oboe in the Pittsburgh and Baltimore orchestras, as well as the American Symphony Orchestra. He has performed on Broadway, the New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, the American Ballet Theater and the Joffrey Ballet Orchestra, and elsewhere. He has also been guest conductor of American, Canadian and European state orchestras, choirs and ensembles. He has also performed as a guest conductor with the Latvian National Opera, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Liepaja Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Nuremberg Symphony, Philharmonia Hungarica, Bronx Arts Orchestra, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Moscow Symphony Orchestra, Boston Chamber Orchestra. Orchestra, Latvian Armed Forces Orchestra, Riga Orchestra, Balsis Choir, Ave Sol, Fortius Sonore Choir, Latvian Radio Choir, Latvian State Choir and others.
Andrejs Jansons has also performed at XX and XXV Song and Dance Celebration, XXVI Latvian Song and Dance Celebration, as well as Youth Song Celebration in the United States, World Free Latvian Song Days I in Gotland, West Coast VIII and XII, Canada IX , USA X Song Festival and many other song festivals of Latvian regions as the main conductor.
His musical credo has always been: Latvian music – for Latvians and the world.
It is not surprising that when the World Union of Free Latvians awarded Andrejs Jansons the award for “Lifetime contribution to the work of Latvian society in the United States and bringing the Latvian name to the world with the music,” the representatives pointed out, “His burning passion and commitment to promoting Latvian music on both sides of the ocean is worthy of admiration. Alongside his work, Andrejs Jansons has also dedicated a large part of his life to the protection and preservation of Latvian musical values.
When contacts were made with Latvian musicians living abroad during the Latvian National Awakening, Andrejs Jansons was one of the most active conductors and composers.
As a composer, he wrote nearly 50 songs for choir and ply arrangements, 2 song cycles and 20 solo songs. He also worked passionately on promoting music education among young Latvians, participated in music camps, education courses and summer camps. He also organized more than ten concert tours in the United States and Canada for Latvian choirs and soloists.
It is largely thanks to Andrejs Jansons that Latvians developed a love for the kokle as a musical instrument. For more than forty years, he taught kokle to young and old. He wrote an entire book and composed and edited an entire volume of kokle directories for ensembles. He also read lectures on how to play the kokle, as well as topics such as Latvian music and folklore in ethnomusicology periodicals at College Music Society and International Folk Music Council conferences.
Andrejs Jansons was also active in musical research and methods, wrote research and read lectures on kokle playing, Latvian music and folklore, and wrote and defended a doctoral dissertation on classification problems of the Latvian folk music.
Throughout his life he received the Three Star Order (1996), the Krišjānis Barons Prize (1967, 1976) and the Karlis Gopers Foundation Prize (1972, 1974).