Vasks, Pēteris, Latvian composer and teacher; b. Aizpute, April 16,1946. He attended the Riga Academy of Music before completing a diploma in double bass at the Lithuanian State Cons, in Vilnius in 1970. He then studied composition with Utkins at the Latvian Cons. (1973-78). Vasks played double bass in the Lithuanian Phil. (1966-69), the Latvian Phil. Chamber Orch. (1969-70), and the Latvian Radio and TV Sym. Orch. (1971-74). From 1980 he taught composition in Riga. In 1993 he received the Lithuanian Grand Music Award, in 1996 the Herder Prize of the Univ. of Vienna, and in 1997 the Latvian Grand Music Award. Vasks’s compositions reveal several influences; some, such as his Cello Concerto, are indebted to Shostakovoch, while others blend elements of minimalism with archaic Latvian folk music into an evocation of ecology and praise for the mysteries of nature.
ORCH Rush Hour (1978); Cantabilefor Strings (1979); Vestijums Botschaftfor Strings, Percussion, and 2 Pianos (1982); Musica dolorosafor Strings (1983); Lauda (1986); English Horn Concerto (1989); 2 syms.: No. 1, Balsis (Voices) for Strings (1990-91; Kokkola, Finland, Sept. 8, 1991) and No. 2 (1998-99; Bournemouth, July 30, 1999); Cello Concerto (1993-94; Berlin, Nov. 26, 1994); Musica adventusfor Strings (1995-96; orchestration of the 3rdString Quartet); Tala gaisma (Distant Light), concerto for Violin and String Orch. (1996-97; Salzburg, Aug. 10, 1997). CHAMBER: 3 Piecesfor Clarinet and Piano (1973); Partitafor Cello and Piano (1974); Chamber Musicfor Winds and Percussion (1975); Moments musicauxfor Clarinet (1977); 2 wind quintets: No. 1, Muzika aizlidojusajiem putniem (Music for Flying Birds; 1977) and No. 2, Musika aizgajusam draugam (In Memory of a Friend; 1982); 3 string quartets (1977; Summer Tunes,1984; 1995); The Bookfor Cello (1978); Concerto for Timpani and Percussion (1979-86); Ainava ar putneim (Landscape with Birds) for Flute (1980); Touchesfor Oboe (1982); Little Summer Musicfor Violin and Piano (1985); Episodi e Canto perpetuofor Piano Trio (1985); Sonata for Solo Double Bass (1986); Pavasara sonate (Spring Sonata) for String Sextet (1987); Musique de soirfor Horn and Organ (1988); Sonata of Lonelinessfor Guitar (1990); Sonata for Solo Flute (1992). KEYBOARD: Piano: Musicfor 2 Pianos (1974); In Memoriamfor 2 or 4 Pianos (1977); A Little Night Music (1978); White Scenery (1980); Autumn Music (1981); Izdegusas zemes ainavas (Landscapes of the Burned-Out Earth; 1992); Spring Music, “quasi una sonata” (1995). Organ: Can-tus ad pacem (1984); Musica seria (1988); Te Deum (1991). VOCAL: Concerto vocalefor Chorus (1978); Latvija,chamber cantata (1987); Dona nobis pacemfor Chorus and String Orch. or Organ (1996); other choral pieces and songs.
—Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire