Composers and Authors /

Salaks, Vilnis (1939)

Biography   Works  

Vilnis Salaks was born on January 18th, 1939 in Riga to the family of conductor, kokle performer and composer Artūrs Salaks. Music foundations he learned at the Valmiera School of Music, and, at the age of 14, he moved to Riga and continued studies at the Jāzeps Mediņš College of Music in the theory department (1955–1958, with Marija Mediņa, Valters Kaminskis, Mendelis Bašs). He studied at the Latvian State Conservatory in the composition class of Ādolfs Skulte (1958–1963), and graduated that, gaining his composition and teaching qualifications. In 2003, he gained his Master’s degree in music. He participated in nine All Soviet Union new composer seminars in Ivanov (1966–1976), where were created almost all large form works. In 1976, he finished the qualification course organised by the Latvian Culture Ministry Methodological Cabinet, and wrote a harmony teaching method for wind instrumentalists in music colleges. He went on folklore expeditions and gathered approximately 150 Latvian folk song melodies. He has visited Ruza, Repina, and Diližan, where he got to know the library and sound recording collection and created a collection of works with many different techniques. As of 1962, he works as a composition and music theory fundamentals teacher at the Jāzeps Mediņš College of Music, as of 2003, he is a teacher at the Jelgava College of Music. He was a lecturer at the Latvian Academy of Music (1987–2004, as of 1994, an associate professor). He has participated in the annual international research conferences in Moscow, Erevan, Tblisi, Vilnius, and Tallinn. He was vice president of the international music culture centre Arfa (1991–1997), organising concerts in Moscow, Kyrgyzstan, Israel and elsewhere, as well as publishing sheet music.

As of 1964, he has participated in approximately 1500 concerts in Latvia and elsewhere (Lithuania, Estonia, and Russia), directing the VEF Culture Centre men’s vocal ensemble (as of 1964 until today), the men’s vocal quartet Vecrīga (which he founded in 1974) and other vocal ensembles. He has organised author concerts in many Latvian cities. His symphonic work has been performed in Kuybishev, Tomsk, Krasnojarsk, Petrozavodsk, Moscow and other cities, and his piano music has been performed in St. Petersburg. 20 choreographies for Latvian folk song arrangements have been created for symphony orchestra, and many Latvian and foreign collectives have performed them.

As of 1985, he is a member of the Latvian Composers’ Union. He has won warded at national level competitions. In 2003, for his large creative investment in the field of Latvian folk music, he received the Ernests Brastiņš and Arvīds Brastiņš memorial medal. He mainly composes miniatures and folk song arrangements for varied instruments. His music for kokles is in the foundation repertoire of many Latvian kokle ensembles. His miniatures and folk song arrangements for varied ensembles have been published in many author collections, included on records and compact discs.

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