Maija Einfelde - Latvian Composer

By winning in the International Competition by the Barlow Endowement for Music Competition in 1997 Maija Einfelde has become one of the most celebrated and well-known Latvian composers in the world.

Maija Einfelde was born in Valmiera, January 2, 1939. Her father was an organ-builder and her mother was an organ-player. Maija Einfelde learned music at Alfreds Kalnins Music School in Cesis and later at Jazeps Medins Music College in Riga. She studied composition with Prof. Janis Ivanovs at the Conservatoire of Latvia named after Jazeps Vitols, and graduated from it in 1966. Since 1968 she has been teaching comosition and the theory of music in various music schools (at Alfreds Kalnins Music School in Cesis, Jazeps Medins Music College, and recently at Emils Darzins Music College). Her son Janis Einfelds is a writer.

Chambermusic and choral music are the most favoured genres by Maija Einfelde. In her compositons there are many allusions to historical events and general existential problems as well as to autobiographic motifs and impulses. Different psychological shades and deep emotionality in her work is combined with the choice of ascetic means of expression. Among these there stands out her embracing language of harmony which is both laconic and polysemantic.

Maija Einfelde works on her compositions daily not relying on inspiration alone. She likes to work out the details and to polish the nuances of her compositions. Often she makes different or parallel versions of the same piece. So, for example, her “Ave Maria” and “Adagio” have even three versions.

Her chamber-oratotio “At the Edge of the Earth…” written on the poetry by Aeschylus, which brought her the First Prize at the International Competition organized by the Barlow Foundation, was written by Maija Einfelde in 1996, and it was first performed by the Latvian Radio Choir conducted by Kaspars Putnins at the Festival of New Latvian Choral Music. When as the Winner of the Barlow Endowement for Music Competition Maija Einfelde was offered to write a new choral piece she chose a Biblical text, so “Psalm 15” was composed . In 1998 it was performed by four choires: the Brigham Young University Choir and Kansas City Chorale in USA, the Vancouver Chamber Choir in Canada and the Radio Choir of the Netherlands. The composer herself was present when her piece was performed in Kansas City and in Carnegie Hall, New York.

To listen MP3 format audio excerpt Isle of the Sirens click here

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Maija Einfede’s piece “And I saw a new heaven” (the text comes fom St. John´s Book of Revelation) was written in 1998 as a composition ordered by the world-famous Hilliard Ensemble. “Concertino for four clarinets” and “May Ballad” for a mixed choir based on the poem by Aspazija, a Latvian poetess, are among those pieces by Latvian composers included in the program of international competition “Rostrum of Composers” annually organized by the UNESCO International Music Council (IMC).

In 1997 Maija Einfelde was awarded the Grand Music Prize of Latvia. In 1999 she received the Award of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia.

English text by Sigma Ankrava
Photo by Karlis Pakarlis

Music in Latvia
Latvian Composers Union

Last updated 07.04.2002