Composer, Pianist, Teacher

Compiled by Pēteris Apinis. From: 100 Latvijas personību (112.–113. lpp.). Rīga: Nacionālais apgāds; Lauku Avīze. (in Latvian)
“Starry—that's what I call Lūcija Garūta in spirit. Her music takes you from the earth, it lifts you towards the stars and the sun. Her music has the power of tenderness that cleanses and explains." (Z. Mauriņa).

The story of Lūcija Garūta is a series of insights from admirers, admirers, music professionals of her talent. Professor Ilma Grauzdiņa of the Latvian Academy of Music, defining L. Garūta’s place in Latvian music, wrote: “Lūcija Garūta represents the generation of Latvian composers whose career began at the beginning of the 20th century. Alongside her are Helmers Pavasars, Pēteris Barisons, Jānis Kalniņš, Bruno Skulte, Arvīds Žilinskis, then Olfgang Dārziņš, Jānis Ivanovs, Jānis Norvilis, and several others. Among these compositions, L. Garuta stands out with his special handwriting. Her music is romantically ecstatic and heartfelt, but at the same time deep and ambitious. Her muse is fragile but strong at the same time. Her music is faithful to Latvian moods, but at the same time open to the new currents of her time. As the Artist herself.”

Lūcija Garūta was born in Riga on May 14, 1902. Her and her two sisters Olga and Erna’s childhood was warmed by the warmth and harmony of the family, theater was played in the house and children’s concerts were held. As a child, L. Garūta spent all day at the piano improvising while preparing for piano lessons with Oto Fogelmanis – the first academically educated Latvian cellist. Studied music theory and composition with Nikolajs Alunāns. Studied at Maldonis gymnasium and Beķere gymnasium, 1st secondary school of Riga city. In 1919, she was admitted to the piano class of the newly established Latvian Conservatory, which she graduated in 1925; she graduated from Jāzeps Vītola’s composition class at the conservatory a year earlier. Worked as a concert master, accompanying singers Milda Brehmane-Štengele, Marisa Vētra, Ādolf Kaktiņa, violinists Rūdolf Miķelson, Arvēda Norīta and many others. In the 1920s and 1930s, Lūcija Garūta was one of the most active Latvian musicians. Art people gathered in her apartment on Hanza Street.

Additionally studied piano play 1926 and 1928 in Paris. 1926—1944. was a teacher at the Riga Folk Conservatory, from 1945 – at the Latvian State Conservatory (from 1975 a professor). From childhood, Lūcija Garūta was fascinated by people’s desire to fly. In 1931, she composed the song “Future Man”, dedicated to the first attempt to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1938, she wrote the libretto and music for the opera “The Silver Bird”, in which love and the silver bird, the aircraft, must perish due to the selfishness of people. The opera was not staged. In 1964, the opera was again included in the repertoire, but it was at that time that exiled artists performed L. Garūtas several times works, so the Soviet censorship made Garūta unpopular again and staged the opera was forbidden. At this time, modernism became popular and L. Garūta seemed old-fashioned romantic to the leaders of music life. When Yuri Gagarin made a spaceship flight on April 12, 1961, the composer was so excited that wrote the cantata “He flies!”, and later – after the flight of Valentina Tereshkova – the choral song “The Seagull in the Wonderful”.

Lūcija Garūta was a very Latvian composer, she felt deep in folk songs, she herself wrote about them: “Every composer must get to know the music of his people deeply, he must lovingly absorb the values hidden in folk songs and original literature. Anyone who has become familiar with Latvian folk songs can feel the amazing brightness of both the small, characteristic melodies and the imaginative words. [..] The deeper the composer will be connected with the specific music of his people, the more valuable his contribution will be…” Zenta Mauriņa wrote about the contribution of Lūcija Garūta in folk song arrangements: “An artist who only sings his own song is a bad artist. A great artist sings the songs of his people, a genius the song of all mankind. Listening to Lūcija Garūta timeless song “Go, sun, soon to God”, I think that the entire Latvian nation is singing there. Sing? No, there all our people are crying. […] Not everyone can win. Some must fall, but fall with a burning and burning heart. “The battle was hot, the heart even hotter” – its sounds sing about one of the many who fell in battle.” In a deep understanding of the destinies of her people, in her love for music in the life of her people, Lūcija Garūta had expected her dividing line. “God, Your land is on fire!” — Andrejs Eglītis words are like a warning cry full of despair and experience. The direct impetus for the creation of the cantata was the fate of the Latvian people in the Second World War.

In the spring of 1943, the Kuldīga Lutheran congregation announced a literary and musical competition on the theme “Latvian prayer to God”. The text and music had to be created in the form of a church cantata, combining the experiences of a Christian person with the national feelings of the people. The cantata of Lūcija Garūta and Andrejs Eglītis was performed for the first time on March 15, 1944 in Riga’s Old St. Gertrude’s Church. It was sung by the Reiter Choir under the direction of Maestro Teodor Reiter. The soloists were Mariss Vētra and Ādolfs Kaktiņš. Alfred Kalniņš was supposed to play the organ, but he was heartbroken, so Lūcija Garūta herself had to sit at the organ. The premiere was also broadcast by Riga Radio, and a sound recording was also made. During the war, the cantata was played many times in churches. Also in the Kurzeme fortress, in the spring of 1945…

After the war, the cantata “God, Your land is on fire!” In Latvia, it sank into forced oblivion – it was not even allowed to be mentioned. On the other hand, since the prayer sounded abroad. The cantata returned to Latvia in 1988, performed by the chamber choir “Ave sol” under the direction of I. Kokar. The soloists were Ingus Pētersons and Aivars Krancmanis, the organ was played by Aivars Kalējs. “Prayer” from the cantata entered the song festival in 1991. In recent years, the cantata has also been performed in Germany and Japan. In Japan, the cantata was performed by a Japanese choir and soloists, but the text sounded in perfect Latvian. Lūcija Garūta died on February 15, 1977 in Riga, buried in the Meža cemetery.

Teodors Spāde – a close friend, the author of the words and music of the song “Mana džitene”. Admiral T. Spāde was in exile in Temirtava, from where he came semi-legally to Latvia from time to time. In the summer of 1968, T. Spāde visited L. Garūtas in Vecākis, when he visited Latvia for the last time. In the second half of the 1930s, T. Spāde studied the art of composition with L. Garūta. Their friendship lasted four decades – until the admiral’s death. The song “My homeland” was sung by Ādolfs Kaktiņš for the first time on May 15, 1939 at the concert in the opera Sava laikas moderns cilvēks, in 1926 she was one of the first Latvian women to drive a car. After the author’s concert at the State Philharmonic on May 12, 1972. In 1919, Lúcija Garūtas started studying in the Latvian Conservatory’s piano class. Lúcia Garūta’s handwriting. “How poor humanity would be if there were no flowers in the world!” 1961, in Jurmala, Majoros, the composer’s most important works were created, her years of creative work passed there.