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Peteris Vasks

Leading European Composers


Music Room

Free; reservations required

image for 2015-02-12-lec-latvia

About the Composer

“Most people today no longer possess beliefs, love, and ideals. The spiritual dimension has been lost. My intention is to provide food for the soul, and this is what I preach in my works.”

―Pēteris Vasks

Composer Pēteris Vasks (b. 1946 Aizpute) grew up in post-war Soviet Latvia. He was oppressed for his Baptist beliefs, yet nevertheless acquired widespread recognition for his unique music, becoming one of the most noteworthy composers in Latvia in the second half of the 20th-century. Influenced by the likes of Witold Lutosławski, Krzysztof Penderecki, and George Crumb, Vasks learned to implement many musical techniques of the time, including minimalism, aleatoric music, and 12–tone serialism but has never settled on one exclusive idea in his career.

His compositions often incorporate folk elements from Latvian music through the ages, and he places them within a dynamic and often challenging relationship with our contemporary world. As a composer Vasks is inspired by religion, politics, nature, and the environment. His deep connection to Latvia’s history is imbued within his rich, sonorous music, and he has been acknowledged as a unique voice in new music today.

Vasks has chosen the RIX Piano Quartet and flutist Dita Krenberga to present a program of his chamber music. RIX musicians include Sandis Šteinbergs (violin), Ilze Kļava (viola), Reinis Birznieks (cello), and Jānis Maļeckis (piano).


The Fruit of Silence  
for piano quartet and flute 
Green Scenery 
for piano
Andante cantabile from Second Cello Concerto
for cello and piano
Landscape with birds
for flute
for violin, viola, cello, and piano


In collaboration with the Embassy of Latvia in Washington, DC.

About Leading European Composers

In 2009, European embassies in Washington, DC, and The Phillips Collectionjoined forces to create an unprecedented concert series, Leading European Composers. Presenting some of the greatest living composers of our time, this series is unique in that the composers introduce their works with performers they select. The series is cosponsored by The George Washington University, who joined the partnership in 2013, enriching the series with educational programing including master classes, lectures, and panel discussions with each composer.

Past composers have included Kaija Saariaho from Finland, Matthias Pintscher from Germany, Michel van der Aa from the Netherlands, and the eminent Arvo Pärt from Estonia.