The most distinguished writer of Latvian popular music and pianist Raimonds Pauls is the most famous composer not only in Latvia, but also far beyond its borders. His music has been performed in countless countries and in the most prestigious concert halls, and all of this was possible thanks to his unique flair of melody. The fertile creative imagination of Maestro Raimonds Pauls has brought together the intonations of Latvian folk music, jazz, blues, rock’n’roll, French chanson, German schlager and the intonations and elements of national popular songs with the arising trends and always manages to create contemporary and generally attractive music that is at the same time thoroughly democratic.
It is characterized by modern rhythms and arrangements, but a fine feeling of harmony allows the composer to avoid the monotony that plagues many modern pieces of pop music. Unlike many other songwriters, Raimonds Pauls himself is often the interpreter of his own compositions or the concert master of performers. A hallmark of his sound is a very individual, short and accentuately curted stroke that is a distinct characteristic of his style. But he is not afraid to entrust his melodies for the interpretation of other creative groups or to form special bands of performers and produce the sound of his music by himself.
After the brilliant career as a jazz pianist and composer in the 60s, Raimonds Pauls has chosen the medium of song as his major form of expression and at the same time has managed to act out his fantasies as a composer in large staged spectacles - musicals and musical comedies. He always picks the most talented singers and musicians to perform his work and this way he increases the quality of his art to heights unreachable by others. In addition, the bright intuition of Raimonds Pauls continues to surprise with new and unexpected projects, and his creations have been an integral part of Latvian popular music for 50 years, some of them even enjoy the status of folklore. Songs of Raimonds Pauls are popular among listeners of any age not only in Latvia, because many residents of the former Soviet Union took the love towards the excellent music of Raimonds Pauls with them, when they emigrated and Maestro still receives invitations to perform in many countries all over the world.
Composer, pianist, director, arranger and producer Raimonds Pauls was born on 12 January, 1936 in Iļģuciems, Riga; his father was a glassblower and his mother was a housewife. He started to learn how to play the piano at the age of 4, first at the Musical Kindergarten at Riga Institute of Music, and then he entered the Elementary School No. 7 of Riga City and studied music privately under Professor Valerijs Zosts and teachers Emma Eglīte and Juta Daugule.
In 1946 Raimonds Pauls is accepted into the Musical School of E. Darziņš and for three years he studies in two schools. The boy is active in music also in the comprehensive school - he plays accompaniments for callisthenics, the choir, performs in concerts and other events.
In 1949 Raimonds Pauls finishes Elementary School No. 7 and continues his studies exclusively in the then ten-year Secondary Musical School of E. Darziņš. In 1952 he finishes the course of general education and for another year continues to attend musical classes to prepare for entrance examinations in the conservatory. Next to studies, since the age of 14, he plays the piano in various dancing ensembles, learns the art of improvisation, the basics of jazz and begins to compose.
In 1953, during his studies in the Latvian State Conservatory, Raimonds Pauls is accepted into the piano class of Hermanis Brauns from which he graduates in 1958. More and more time of his student’s life is spent playing music in various bands and restaurants. In 1956 together with Egils Švarcs, a course-mate from the Conservatory, they form the so-called light music sextet of Riga Radio (Raimonds Pauls - piano, Egils Švarcs - bass fiddle, Gunārs Kušķis - clarinet, Georgs Slaveckis – guitar, Haralds Brando – percussion, Eduards Ābelskalns – vibraphone) that makes records in the radio centre, including the recording of Raimonds Pauls’ instrumental music. In the spring of 1956 Riga Radio records the first song by Raimonds Pauls Nenosūtītā vēstule (Liriska dziesma) (The Unposted Letter (A lyrical song)) performed by Valentīna Butāne. Edgars Zveja, Vera Davidone and other professional singers cooperate with the sextet and in 1957 the ensemble is included in the freshly formed Riga Light Music Orchestra and Raimonds Pauls becomes the pianist of RLMO.
After graduating from the Conservatory, Raimonds Pauls is assigned as the concert master in the Latvian Philharmonic Concert-hall, but continues to work as a composer as well. In 1961 he becomes a laureate in the exposition of new composer works in Moscow for his cycle Portreti (Portraits). Raimonds Pauls forms a new creative band – an instrumental trio (Raimonds Pauls – piano, Aivars Timšs – bass fiddle, Haralds Brando – percussion) for which he composes several significant jazz-style compositions, cycles and suites. This encourages the composer to resume his studies at the Conservatory, this time in the composition class of Jānis Ivanovs (1962 - 1965).
In 1962 Raimonds Pauls is appointed as the leader of Darba rezerves (Labour reserve) - an orchestra of the Recreation Centre of Professional Education. In 1962 he composes his first musical score for theatre (Miks un Dzilna in the Theatre of Drama) and in 1964 he creates his first soundtrack for a full-length film (Līdz rudenim vēl tālu (Fall is Still a Long Way Away) by Aloizs Brenčs). His first ballet Kubas melodijas (Melodies of Cuba) appears in 1963. Parallel to this, lyrical light music songs are constantly recorded in Riga Radio and since 1958 most of the lyrics are provided by poet Alfrēds Krūklis.
In 1964 Raimonds Pauls becomes the musical leader, head conductor and pianist of Riga Light Music Orchestra. Starting from 1967 he is a member of Composer Union of Latvia (SSR).
In 1967, in line with pop music trends, he reduces the number of members in RLMO and moves away from the genre of jazz. The soloists of RLMO at that time were Margarita Vilcāne, Ojārs Grīnbergs, Zdislavs Romanovskis and two years later they are joined by Nora Bumbiere. In the spring of 1968 another programme featuring songs by Raimonds Pauls enters into circulation, it contains nine songs with the lyrics of Alfrēds Krūklis, four of which (Nepārmet man (Don’t Blame Me), Mežrozīte (Eglantine), Baltijas jūrai (For the Baltic Sea) and Dziesma nenosalst (A Song Fears no Frost)) become permanent hits of the Latvian light music genre. In 1968 the song poll of the radio show Mikrofons begins and for eleven times, up till 1982 (the poll does not take place in 1972 - 1975), the songs by Raimonds Pauls are declared as the most popular in Latvia. In 1969 Raimonds Pauls' first recording Tev, mana labā (For You, My Dear) is released, and in the future at least one album by Raimonds Pauls is released practically every year. At the end of the sixties, the first international hit by the composer Siņij ļon (Blue Flax) that is performed by Larisa Mondrusa makes Raimonds Pauls famous in the entire USSR. Together with RLMO Raimonds Pauls performs in Finland, Hungary, Poland, GDR, republics of USSR and successfully participates in the International Jazz Festival in Prague. In the festival Man and the Sea (Rostock, GDR, 1969) the song of Raimonds Pauls Maza, maza istabiņa (A Small, Small Room) is performed by Margarita Vilcāne to great success and is later translated into Italian transforming it into a love song.
In 1970 Raimonds Pauls’ song Liepājai (Manai pilsētai) (For Liepaja (For My City)) is heard for the first time when it is performed by the join choir in the General Song Festival.
In 1971, weary of the unceasing concert life, Raimonds Pauls leaves the RLMO to form a smaller band of musicians, the so-called vocally instrumental ensemble or, as it is seen in the West, a rock band which would be more flexible for the implementation of his creative ideas. The composer looks at the events in the up-and-coming Latvian rock music and notices an ensemble Katedrāle that is well recognized in the youngster audience. When the band dissolves, Raimonds Pauls involves the guitarist and composer of the band Gunārs Šimks and the drummer Vladimirs Smirnovs in his new project. The instrumental band is forming under Rigas Radio, the bass guitar is played by Ivars Galenieks and the piano is, of course, left in the hands of Raimonds Pauls himself. The band has no real name and it is designated with the word Studija (Studio). Parallel to this, at the beginning of the 70s the composer creates his first songs for the choir.
At that time Raimonds Pauls praises the duet of Nora Bumbiere and Viktors Lapčenoks who started their career with a song composed by him Savāda vasara (A Strange Summer) – besides becoming the stars of the new ensemble, they are also seen as the most prominent duet in the history of Latvian light music. In 1973 the ensemble of Raimonds Pauls joins the professional bands of the Latvian State Philharmonic Music-hall and there are some changes in the structure - Vladimirs Boldirevs becomes the drummer, Boriss Bannihs plays the bass and Zigmārs Liepiņš takes the place at the keyboard. A new program of songs is prepared every year varying in style from jazz-rock and art-rock (the cycle with the lyrics of Daina Avotiņa, Spēļu nakts Duntes krogā (A Gaming Night in the Pub of Dunte)) to schlager (Par pēdējo lapu (On the Last Leaf)) and popular songs (joke songs). In the seventies, Jānis Peters becomes the main poet for Raimonds Pauls and the songs are created in two ways – first the music is written or (on few occasions) first the lyrics are written.
In 1975 the ensemble adopts the name Modo and a tour in the cities of the then Soviet Union begins. In 1976 Nora Bumbiere participates in the prestigious song competition of Sopota and takes the 2nd place. The ensemble visits the countries of the socialism bloc (Poland, Bulgaria, Eastern Germany) and recruits new members – Modo is joined by Mirdza Zīvere, Aija Kukule and others. In 1977 Nora Bumbiere leaves Modo and in 1978 so does the musical leader himself – Raimonds Pauls.
At the end of the seventies the Central Television in Moscow expresses great interest in the works of Raimonds Pauls. The composer acquires a new road leading to an audience of tens of millions and cooperation with accomplished Russian poets is initiated. Songs of Raimonds Pauls are performed by such stars of the light music as Alla Pugačova, Valērijs Ļeontjevs, Jāks Joala, Roza Rimbajeva, Nikolajs Gnatjuks and many others.
The intensity of creative activity forbids regular concerts or the management of a specific creative band. From now on Raimonds Pauls prefers composition and production of his work in various musical structures and bands. His songs and works are produced by Credo, an ensemble from Liepaja, Dālderi from Bauska, Inversija, a band from the Riga Polytechnic Institute with Olga Pīrāga as the leading soloist and together with Harijs Bašs, the pianist from Inversija, Raimonds Pauls produces a ragtime programme. The composer cooperates with singing actors Edgars Liepiņš, Imants Skrastiņš, Rolands Zagorskis, Jānis Paukštello, actor ensemble Mūžīgais Unisons, singers Mirdza Zīvere, Žoržs Siksna, Ingus Pētersons, creates several soloprogrammes for Aija Kukule, composes using the poetry of classical authors (Rainis, Aspazija, Plūdons, Austra Skujiņa), as well as the works of Leons Briedis and others.
In 1979 Raimonds Pauls becomes the art director for musical bodies (radio choir, symphonic orchestra and Latvian TV and Radio variety and light music orchestra) of the Latvian State Television and Broadcasting committee (till 1982). In 1980 Raimonds Pauls starts to work as a lecturer in the Conservatory, where he gives the jazz improvisation class until 1983. Since 1981 Raimonds Pauls turns his attention towards children music by composing for the boys’ choir and becoming the concert master and songwriter for the children vocal ensemble Dzeguzīte.
In 1981 Raimonds Pauls gives his first solo concert in Moscow which is followed by regular performances under the red stars of the Kremlin. The songs of Raimonds Pauls in Russian use the stanzas of Andrejs Vozņesenskis, Iļja Rezņīks and other well-known poets. The songs of Raimonds Pauls take the first places in international competitions: in 1979 in the song competition of Sopota; in 1987 in Bratislava Lira and others. His songs also become the Songs of the Year in the USSR Central Televisions' and thus the entire country's competition Pesņa goda (Song of the Year). In the eighties many of the melodies created by Raimonds Pauls (Miļļion alih roz (A Million of Scarlet Roses), Starinnije časi (The Old Clocks), Maestro, Podberu muziku (I’ll take the Music), Taņec na barabaņe (Dance on Drums), Verņisaž (Vernissage) etc.) become the hits in the entire USSR.
In the fall of 1981 Raimonds Pauls, together with the singing actor Imants Skrastiņš, goes on a tour to the countrymen living abroad in the USA and Canada. From 22 September till 14 October they perform in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, New York, appearing even in the famous Carnegie Hall
From 1982 Raimonds Pauls works as the chief editor in the Main Editorial Office of Musical Broadcasts of the Latvian State Television and Broadcasting committee and from 1985 - as the chief editor of the Editorial Office of Musical Broadcasts. On his initiative, the band Remix (1985) is formed under the Latvian TV and Radio Light Music Orchestra and songs for this band are written also by Raimonds Pauls.
In 1984 he is elected as the secretary of board in the Composer Union of Latvia SSR. Next to his musical activity, Raimonds Pauls has also been a member of the LSSR Supreme Council.
In 1984 the composer goes on a tour in Russia and Ukraine together with Valērijs Ļeontjevs.
In 1986 on the initiative of Raimonds Pauls the All-Union Festival of Young Singers Jūrmala is created and the composer works with singer Laima Vaikule to create songs in both Latvian and Russian, which are still sung by Laima Vaikule today.
In 1988 Raimonds Pauls contributes to the renaissance of Eduards Rozenštrauhs by organizing joint concerts; his list of singers is increased by Andris Daņiļenko, Dainis Porgants and others. In 1988 Raimonds Pauls gives his first solo concert in Helsinki, Finland. On his initiative, the competition for singing children Cālis is created.
In 1988 the composer is appointed the chairman of State Culture Committee of Latvia SSR, from 1989 till 1993 he acts as the Minister of Culture for Latvia. He is the initiator of Lielā Mūzikas Balva (The Big Music Award).
In 1992 Raimonds Pauls together with Dainis Porgants presents his concert Mana dziesma Latvijai (My Song for Latvia) in Canada and the USA.
In 1992 the composer establishes the tradition of Latvju Ziņģe (Latvian Popular Song Concert) which is an especially democratic concert and festival of schlager music at the same time and is held on the Līgo night. Since 1993 he cooperates in music with the poet Guntars Račs.
1993 - 1998 Raimonds Pauls acts as the Cultural advisor to the president of the state and at the same time (1993 - 1995) works as the head conductor and art director of the Latvia Radio big band. In the coming years the composer creates programmes of solo concerts always working with new musical talents and giving a lot of concerts.
On 20 June 1994 the first musical album of Raimonds Pauls in CD format is released. It is called …un sākas viss no gala (…and everything starts anew) and contains new arrangements for songs written in various creative periods. Raimonds Pauls receives the Big Musical Award ‘1994 for the poetic performance Visi koki dieva doti (Every Tree You See By God is Given Thee), the concert Svinga laiks (It's Time for Swing) and the CD recording Ziemassvētkos (In Christmas).
In 1996 Raimonds Pauls goes on an anniversary tour in the cities of Latvia, followed by concerts in the USA and Canada together with Laima Vaikule and Dzeguzīte. This marks the end of the long tours in his career as a pianist.
In May 1997 Raimonds Pauls, together with local and foreign solists, gives a concert in the Latvian National Opera commemorating the centenary of George Gershwin. In the spring of 1998 the programme Regtaims operā (Ragtime in Opera) is created; in 1999 the first spiritual musical cycle Liec galvu krusta priekšā (Bow Your Head in Front of the Cross) for men choir and a soloist is composed.
In the next years concerts are organized in Raimonds Pauls’ estate Līči near Mazsalaca, songs are written and concert programmes with the new singers (Marija Naumova, Ance Krauze, Normunds Rutulis, Gunārs Kalniņš, Jānis Kurševs etc.) are set up.
In 2002 Raimonds Pauls once again performs in Moscow with triumphant concerts that feature Alla Pugačova, Valērijs Ļeontjevs, Laima Vaikule and singers from Latvia. Since 2002 the composer takes part in the Competition of New Performers Jaunais vilnis (The New Wave) and acts as the chairman of jury.
1998 – 2002 he is a member of the 7th Saeima (from the political party Jaunā partija), acts as the deputy chairman in the Education, Culture and Science Commission. 2002 – 2006 he is a member of the 8th Saeima (from the political party Tautas partija), is a member in the Education, Culture and Science Commission and the Inquiry Commission.
The music of Raimonds Pauls is known worldwide: concerts have been given; albums and songs have been released in all countries of the Eastern Europe, countries of CIS, in Finland, the USA, Canada, Japan, Israel etc. The most popular song is definitely Dāvāja Māriņa (Given by Marina) alias Miļļon alih roz (A Million of Scarlet Roses) that became a hit in Japan, Finland and the entire Eastern Europe. The songs of Raimonds Pauls have been translated into Russian, Finnish, Japanese, Italian, German, English and other languages.
August 1967 – Celebrated Servant of Art
June 1976 – Artist of the People’s Theatre of LSSR
January 1985 – Artist of the People’s Theatre of USSR
24 November 1992 - Honorary member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences
Raimonds Pauls was decorated with the Three Star Order (3rd class) on 12 April 1995 and thus he is a commander of the Three Star Order (for merits on behalf of the state of Latvia).
A laureate of state and Komsomol awards.
A laureate of the Big Musical Award ‘1994 (for the poetic performance Visi koki dieva doti (Every Tree You See By God is Given Thee), the concert Svinga laiks (It's Time for Swing) and the CD Ziemassvētkos (In Christmas)).
Musical Stage Works
Pāri, kas dabonas (Lovers Who Get It) (1976)
Māsa Kerija (Sister Carry) (1978)
Nāc pie puikām (Come to the Boys) (1982)
Vella būšana (A Matter of the Devil) (1987)
Meža gulbji (Forest Swans) (1995)
Leģenda par Zaļo Jumpravu (The Legend of the Green Maiden) (2000)
Kubas melodijas (Melodies of Cuba) (1963)
Ritmi, ritmi (Rhythms, Rhythms) (1979)
Vitrāžas (Stained Glass Panels) (1979)
Music for 30 theatre performances including Īsa pamācība mīlēšanā (A Short Instrucion in Love), Atjautīgā aukle (The Ingenious Nanny), Šerloks Holmss (Sherlock Holmes), Brands (Brand), Džons Neilands (John Neiland), Elizabete – Anglijas karaliene (Elizabeth – Queen of England), Grāfs Monte Kristo (The Count of Monte Cristo), Dāmu paradīze (Paradise of Ladies), Melanholiskais valsis (The Melancholic Waltz) etc. and for puppet theatre performances Runčuks Punčuks (The Belly Tomcat), Velniņi (The Two Imps), Ceturtais skriemelis (The Fourth Vertebra) etc. Music for radio performances and plays.
Music for more than 30 movies, including Vella kalpi (Servants of the Devil), Vella kalpi Vella dzirnavās (The Servants of the Devil in the Windmill of the Devil), Tauriņdeja (The Butterfly Dance), Melnā vēža spīlēs (In the Pincers of the Black Lobster), Dāvana vientuļai sievietei (A Present for a Lonely Woman), Mans draugs – nenopietns cilvēks (My Friend the Rattlebrain), Teātris (The Theatre), Limuzīns Jāņu nakts krāsā (A Limousine in the Colour of a Summer Solstice Night), Likteņdzirnas (The Hand-Mill of Fate), for the series Ilgais ceļš kāpās (The Long Way through the Dunes) etc.
3 songs for choir and piano (1972)
10 arrangements of Latvian folk songs for the boys choir (1980)
Song cycle with the lyrics of Aspazija for the boys’ choir (1980)
Baltās dziesmas (The White Songs) for the boys’ choir and instrumental ensemble (1981)
Song cycle for choir and piano (1984)
Cycle Vītola stabules dziesmas (Songs of a Willow Pipe) for the boys’ choir (1984)
Mazs, laimīgs zēns (A Small and Happy Boy) – ten songs for the boys choir and piano with the lyrics of M. Karēms (1985)
Cycle Pērļu zvejnieks (Pearl Hunter) for the boys’ choir and a tenor (1986)
Cycles of Light Music Songs:
Vecās Rīgas vitrāžas (The Stained Glass Panels of the Old Rīga) (1971)
Five songs with the lyrics of D. Avotiņa (1972)
Oriental motifs (1982)
City romance (1983)
Melnais kliedziens (The Black Cry) (1985)
Cycle with the lyrics of Rainis (1985)
More than 500 songs
Approx. 70 songs for children
Suite Portreti (Portraits) (1962)
A rhapsody for piano and light music orchestra (1964)
Suite Iespaidi (Impressions) (1965)
Suite Dienvidu akvareļi (The Water-Colours of the South) (1965)
Kalnu skices (Mountain Sketches) (1966)
Five improvisations in the spirit of Latvian folk songs (1967)
Suite Melnās krāsas (Black Colours) (1967)
Jazz expressions (1970) and other works.
Approx. 300 works, including instrumental versions of songs, arrangements of folk songs, versions on familiar themes, arrangements of classical composer works.
More than 80 albums with songs and instrumental music.
In addition: social gatherings organized by Raimonds Pauls on the Līgo night:
1992 – The Open-Air Museum, Rīga
1993 – Valmiera, Pauku priedes
1994 - Kuldīga
1995 – Kart race track in Rēzekne
1996 – Vetspils City park
1997 – near the castle of Mežotne
1998 – in Raimonds Pauls’ estate Līči
1999 - Krāslava
2000 - Liepāja
2001 – Mežaparks, Rīga
2002 - Valmiera
2003 - Aizkraukle
2004 - Valka
2005 - Kuldīga
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