Composers and Authors /

Brege, Ilona (1959)

Biography   Works  

Ilona Brege was born on the 20th of May 1959 in Riga (her father is choir director Valdis Breģis). She graduated the Latvian National Conservatory, studying piano with Ella Strazdiņa (1983) and composition with Pauls Dambis (1986). A former Latvian Philharmonic soloist (1983–1992), she received a laureate award in the Latvian Republic Young Pianist Competition (1980).

Ilona Breģe’s creations encompass many themes – both speaking spiritually, and stylishly playful and heartfelt; in these creations there are still steps – some works have been successfully recognized at competitions. Her Muzikālas anekdotes pēc latviešu folkloras motīviem (Musical Anecdotes Based on Latvian Folklore Motifs) string quartet and poem Basām kājām dvēselīte... (Bare Footed Soul...), composed for violin and percussion, received awards at the Jāzeps Vītols 125th anniversary chamber music competition (1988). At the Latvian Music Fund organized choir song competition Dziesmuvara in 1997, she received an award for her arrangement of the Latvian folk song Velc, pelīte, saldu miegu (Bring, Little Mouse, Sweet Sleep). In 2008, the composer reached the finals of the Latvian original opera competition (the opera Gösta Berlings concept). She has received the Latvian Great Music Award 2009.

The composer defended her Doctorate of Art dissertation Rīgas Pilsētas teātris 1782–1863 (The Theatre of the City of Riga 1782–1863), and based upon that, with the assistance of the Latvian Cultural Fund Spīdolas stipendijas (Spīdolas Scholarship), developed and released the book Teātris senajā Rīgā (Theatre in Historical Riga). Regarding the theme of the time of German theatre in Rīga, she has made presentations at conferences not just in Latvia, but also elsewhere in the world: Germany (Cologne 1992, Chemnitz 1995, Greifswald 1995, Oldenburg 1997), Finland (Helsinki 1994), Poland (Gdansk 1997) and elsewhere. The pianist has prepared many vital performances of German Baltic music in this same thematic genre – the concert cycle Atskaņas no Rīgas Vācu teātra laikiem (Rhymes from the German Era of Rīga’s Theatre), the festival Musse-Fest, and, in that setting, restoration to Rīga’s concert programs artists including: Franz Liszt, Clara Schumann, singer Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient (1840s), among others.

Ilona Breģe has worked as a researcher in the Latvian Science Academy in the Literature, Folklore and Art department (1992–1998). She was the director of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra (1997–2006, lead conductors Terje Mikkelsen, Olari Elts, Gints Glinka), and the initiator and manager of the international composers’ competition Sinfonia Baltica; the guest lecturer at the Baltic International Academy Culture Management Department (2006-2007). As of 2006, she is the director of the Riga Council Culture Department Professional Wind Orchestra Rīga.