Kenins, Talivaldis

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Kenins, Talivaldis

Kenins, Talivaldis, distinguished Latvian-born Canadian composer, teacher, pianist, organist, and choirmaster; b. Liepäja, April 23, 1919. He took up piano at 5 and composition at 8. While preparing for a diplomatic career at the Lycée Champollion (B.Litt., 1939) in Grenoble, he continued to pursue training in piano. He then was a student of piano and composition of Wihtol at the Latvian State Cons, in Riga (1940–44). With the Soviet occupation of his homeland, he went to Paris and studied at the Cons. (1945–51) with Plé-Caussade (counterpoint and fugue), Messiaen (analysis and aesthetics), and Aubin (composition; premier prix, 1950). In 1951 he emigrated to Canada and in 1956 became a naturalized Canadian citizen. He was organist and choirmaster at Toronto’s St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church from 1951, serving as founder-conductor of its noted St. Andrew’s Latvian Choir (1951–58). From 1952 to 1984 he taught at the Univ. of Toronto. In 1973-74 he served as president of the Canadian League of Composers. In 1989 he was named an honorary prof. of the Latvian Academy of Music and in 1990 his life was the subject of a Latvian film documentary. In 1994 his 75th birthday was celebrated in Latvia by concerts of his music, where his music had been virtually forbidden during the 50-year Soviet occupation. Ottawa honored him with the naming of a street, only the 2nd living Canadian to receive such a distinction. In 1995 he was named an Officer of the National Three-Star Order of the Republic of Latvia. With G. Ridout, he ed. the vol. Celebration (Toronto, 1984). His French training proved crucial in his compositional development. While his music retains its adherence to formal design, he has effectively applied the resources of the cosmopolitan contemporary school to his extensive output.


orch.: Piano Concerto (1946); Duo for Piano and Orch. (1951); Scherzo Concertante (1953); 8 syms.: No. 1 (1959), No. 2, Sinfonia Concertante (1967), No. 3 (1970), No. 4 (1972), No. 5 (1975), No. 6, Sinfonia ad Fugam (1978), No. 7 (1980), and No. 8, Sinfonia Concertata, for Organ and Orch. (1986); Folk Dance and Fugue No. 1 (1964) and No. 2 (1986); Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Strings (1964); Nocturne and Dance for Strings (1969); Fantaisies Concertantes for Piano and Orch. (1971); Violin Concerto (1974); Naačnaača, symphonic poem (1975); Sinfonietta (1976); Beatae voces tenebrae (1977); Concerto da Camera No. 1 for Piano, Flute, Clarinet, and Strings (1981) and No. 2 for Flute and Ensemble (1983); Concerto for 14 Instruments (1982); Partita for Strings on Lutheran Chorales (1983); Concerto for 5 Percussionists and Orch. (1983); Aria per corde for Strings (1984); Concerto for Flute, Guitar, Strings, and Percussion (1985); Canzona- Sonate for Viola and String Orch. (1986); Double Concerto for Violin, Piano, and Orch. (1987); Concerto for Piano, Strings, and Percussion (1990); Honour and Freedom (1991); Viola Concerto (1998). chamber: String Quartet (1948); Septet for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Double Bass (1949); Cello Sonata (1950); Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano (1952); Suite Concertante for Cello and Piano (1955); 2 violin sonatas (1955, 1979); 2 quartets for Piano and Strings (1958, 1979); Diversions for Cello and Piano on a Gipsy Song (1958); Divertimento for Clarinet and Piano (1960); Concertante for Flute and Piano (1966); Fantasy-Variations for Flute and Viola (1967); Concertino a Cinque for Flute, Oboe, Viola, Cello, and Piano (1968); Serenade for Oboe and Cello (1973); Sextet for Bassoon and Strings (1978); Chaconne on a Latvian Folk Theme for Violin (1978); Sonata for Solo Cello (1982); Quintet for Piano and Winds (1984); Variations on a Theme by Schubert for Woodwind Quintet (1984); Adagio and Fugue for Viola, Cello, and Organ (1985); Concertino Barocco for 2 Violins (1985); Suite en Concert for 2 Guitars and String Quartet (1987); Trio for Violin, Viola, and Cello (1989); Die Zauberklarinette for Clarinet (1991); Nonet, L’Ultima Sinfonia, for Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, String Quintet, and Piano (1993); Quintet for Piano and Strings (1994); Viola Sonata (1996); Forgotten Pages, trio for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano (1997); Prelude, Chorale, and Fugue, trio for Horn, Violin, and Piano (1999). keyboard:Piano: Concertino for 2 Pianos (1956); 3 sonatas (1961–85); Sonata for 2 Pianos (1988); Schumann Paraphrases and Fugue (1995). Organ: Suite (1967); Sinfonia Notturna (1978); Introduction, Pastorale, and Toccata (1983); Scherzo-Fantasy (1989); Ex Mari (1992). vocal:To a Soldier, cantata for Soloists, Chorus, and Organ (1953); Bonhomme, bonhomme for Chorus (1964); The Carrion Crow for Men’s Voices (1967); Land of the Silver Birch for Men’s Voices (1967); The Maiden’s Lament for Men’s Voices (1967); Chants of Glory and Mercy (Gloria) for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (1970); Cantata Baltica for Chorus, 2 Trumpets, Timpani, and Organ (1974); Songs to the Almighty for Mezzo- soprano and Orch. (1986); Cantata of Chorales on Themes by J.S. Bach for Soprano, Chorus, Horn, Trumpet, and Organ (1992); Agnus Dei for Mezzo-soprano and String Orch. (1996); numerous other works, including original or folk songs on Latvian texts.


I. Zemzare, T. K.: Starp Divām Pasaulē (T. K.: Between Two Worlds; Riga, 1994; with summaries in Eng. and Fr.).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire