There would definitely be more letters if there was no telephone at home. It would be interesting for younger generations to know that a telephone at home in Latvia was not a self-explanatory phenomenon. It was a certain choice even at the end of the 80s of the last century! In Garuta’s apartment in Riga, the telephone connection already existed from the 1930s. Therefore, more letters were written in the summer, when the composer did not have a telephone in her summer house. Also important are the greetings written by Garūta on days of honor and important events, as well as dedications when giving a book, for example “Stars and Earth” (1969), “Harmonija. Part I” (1972), sheet music editions, etc. c., because usually they are something more – they are meant for everyone to whom it is written – as a retrospective and as a wish for the future. Then it is understandable how much Garūta has kept in mind the personality, life course, complications and efforts of every close and familiar person…
Garūta’s letters should be found mainly with their addressees, now their descendants, who, when sorting through the “papers” left behind, hopefully also find Garūta’s letters, greeting cards, telegrams. You can’t miss them, because they are beautiful: the chosen paper, the envelope, a suitable postcard (which at times was not so easy to find) – all this corresponded to the attitude inculcated from childhood. But the main thing is clear, neat handwriting. Small but easy to read letters. Without superficiality. It was respect for the addressee.
Let this publication be at the same time a request, an invitation to those who have any messages from the composer – to make them known. Then you can get an ever-wider impression of Garūta’s personality, specify various facts stored in the manuscripts, which then get documentary confirmation of what I remember from what I heard in my childhood and youth.
In this publication, I want to present Garūta as a person I knew. Thanks to the letters, outlining various facets that are perhaps less well known. Also, they shed light and specify known facts, now directly – documentary, confirming what I remember from Garūta’s story… To show the wide amplitude that connects family to work, to the vastness of the world.
Letters to Mildai Brehmanei-Štengele
Lūcija Garūta and Milda Brehmane-Štengele (1893–1981) met as musicians. Garūta wrote songs for the singer, knowing the wide range and emotionality of her voice. Over the years, it grew into a friendship that lasted until the last days of his life. I don’t know exactly when it started, but during the last years of their lives, the two artists called each other every evening, so the letters were basically written only in the summers, when Garūta didn’t have a phone. Thus, much of what was discussed remains unknown to us.
July 5, 1973 Dear Mildina! All last week I lived in the mood of the Song Festival. Maybe I already wrote to you. That I also got to contribute to the creation of the Song Festival: In the song war [Leonid] Wigner’s choir performed my [cantata] “He flies!”. Since there is no symphony orchestra in the war of songs, I wrote the composition of the orchestral part for 2 pianos. At the very end of June, I got to know that a composition for 2 pianos would be desirable. I wrote in great passion from 1-5. for July. There was a lot to write, but it was a lot of fun. I remembered the days when I sang and played here in the dark moonlight in the summer of 1961: “Mother – Earth, don’t be sad that your son is wandering in the distance of the stars!” It was so bright to remember the days when I could play for hours with excitement. There were no curtains [in the cottage] yet. The room was full of moonlight. It was unforgettably beautiful!
Cantata “He flies!” usually mentioned only as a fact – a tribute to the first flight. It is sadder if it is attributed as Garūta’s “bowing” to the power of that time – as it was read in the Western press in the 60s, and it was also heard recently in Latvia (!). Then it’s even tragic, because it’s clear that the speakers of these words probably haven’t really heard the cantata, nor have they looked at the score and haven’t even read its text, which is practically apolitical. The only “thing” I have been able to find in it is a “Soviet person” (meaning Yuri Gagarin – D.P.). We were all called that back then. The poetess Mirdza Ķempe’s revision was also attached to this text, just like with the opera “The Silver Bird”, it is possible that this single (guilty…) word also appeared during this consultation, so that the text would be more contemporary.
We did not discuss why this cantata is not more widely sung. I remember what was told several times about the creation of the cantata. First of all, the great joy and experience that the dream has come true – a person flies! It managed to escape from the Earth’s gravity. Garūta even frantically reached for the writing pad, looked for paper (as usual, both of them don’t go to hand in urgent cases) to write down the name of the pilot, so as not to forget it… Then, talking about it, we laughed. This proves how anxious and embarrassed the composer was at that time. Garūta greatly experienced the tragic death of Gagarin. The later written song “Marvelous Seagull”, dedicated to the space flight of Valentina Tereshkova, the first female cosmonaut, is a testimony of true joy. It was even recorded on TV, with the composer herself at the piano, sung by Jānis Zābers. The American flight to the moon and the “walk” on it were also followed. It was a huge amplitude of flight development that Garūta experienced in his lifetime.
July 10, 1974
I work a lot, read and correct, read and correct [“Book of Harmony” Part I]. Its proofreading, however, requires a lot of careful work. Well, the first proofreading of the entire text has been completed this morning. The second proofreading is coming soon. It’s a good thing that it’s all so engaging and sweet for me, because I can’t say that the work is difficult. The major thing would be that right now our jasmines have very big buds and are already starting to open, and white petals are showing. And the watercress have bloomed many, many! The children [sister Olga’s grandchildren – Daina and Uldis, daughters of Zvaigzne Pormale (born Krastiņa) and Daiga and Zinta, daughters of Gunta Krastiņa] always bring me flowers. When the first watercress had appeared in the garden, they had agreed that they would not pick any sooner until three watercress had bloomed. Then, happily, they brought me my beloved “work flowers”, as we call cressies. Because when we were children, our mother used to grow long vine cress by the windows of the veranda. When they started blooming at the beginning of August, I always felt a warm wave: dear school will start soon! (At that time the training started on August 20).
August 31, 1974
In fact, much has already been done. Ernitis [L. Garuta’s younger sister Erna Reinvalde (1908–1988)] on August 27 handed over all my last year’s work to the Conservatory – neatly transcribed on the machine – I wrote notes everywhere with my own hand. There is such a feeling of happiness that before the beginning of the new school year I have completed what I wanted to do last school year – may I have the strength to continue working! Dear Mildiņa, I want to tell you that next week, i.e. i.e., in the week when you receive this letter, there will be two programs on television that I would like to ask you to watch: Friday, September 6, at At 20.25 there will be a program “Live forever, learn forever” – it was shot in color in the Salaspils Botanical Garden. Almost also Gaismiņa [Gaisma Krastiņa, Dr. biological (1924–2007), sister Olga’s eldest daughter, Garūta’s first goddaughter, to whom the solo song “Child’s Heart” is dedicated] can be seen. The main thing is the seedlings. Saturday, September 7, at At 19.10 there will be a program “Our writers. Mirdza Ķempe”. Lucītis will also be there in this same room. Let’s see what will come out of it. How much Lucītis will be visible, how much the surrounding nature. He also recorded Mirdza Ķempe’s recordings in the books given to me. I felt that I did not have the strength to refuse, because it is a film in memory of a person who has already passed away. – If it didn’t work out well, I’m sorry! – If it was a film about me, it would have been easier to refuse. To tell you the truth, I already resigned from admission in March this year when the Conservatory proposed. But this time I could not refuse. As it will be, it will be.
Letters to Elvīrai Lauvai
Elvīra Lauva (1896–?) is an excellent speech therapist, teacher. She plays an important role in the history of speech therapy in Latvia.
In the summer of 1974
Dear Lioness. I told you about my worries about being invited to speak on television. The more I think about it, the more I worry. Now and then in my life, Ernit feels that the “support” is shaking (due to a bad heart function) and then he immediately gives me medicine – I sometimes even wonder why he is giving me medicine now, but Ernit already notices what I don’t see yet. So what will it be like when the film camera starts working? It all came out so gradually. He [Đirts Nagainis], when I was still in Riga, called that he wanted to come and talk about that program. I understood that he wanted an interview. With interviews, it often turns out that the most important things are not said when telling, the unimportant things take time – the writer writes down in another way, in the end, reading the interview is a disappointment. Therefore, I said that I want to write everything slowly, calmly, and give it to him. He was happy about it. I understood that it will still be possible to decide whether I myself will be willing to speak, or Velta Līne will read. We agreed that he would come to Vecaki.
He came to Grandpa’s with a nice rose, so happy, so sincere, as if we were old acquaintances. It turned out that he imagined everything differently. It will begin with Mirdza Ķempe beautiful, thoughtful poetry about the course of life, – “I will not be there anymore, but life…”. Coming out of it, he thought of creating everything as a memory. People who have had will speak cooperation. He still intended (because of “He flies!”) to go to Germaine Heine-Wagner. In conclusion – my words with a fragment from “He flies!” – He told all this so happily that it didn’t even occur to me at that moment that I could refuse the film. Only now I understand more and more what a difficult task it is for me due to my health condition, – “please, make it maybe here, please, a little here, help, – let’s put the chair like that, etc. These are seemingly small things, but what they mean to me! And after all this action (which is necessary to get the light right for the film) I have to take a breather. To speak well! Sometimes you have to think like this: we are the generation that was in its heyday when the development of technology was still tiny. If the way I used to play, the way we performed concerts with my four beloved soloists [I think this is definitely about Milda Brehmani-Stengelis, Marisa Vätra, Ádolfs Kaktins, the fourth one could be Herta Luse], what is the significance, that I am now an old helpless man talking! Let my works remain, if they are destined to remain alive in the nation. At least the Piano Concerto would stay! …
January 30, 1975
Dear, dear Lioness. For several years now, I have been used to the fact that I walk long distances in my thoughts, saying goodbye to dear, good people in my thoughts. Dwelling on my memories, I have to think about how much Pauls Pētersons (1895–1975, agronomist, pianist, director of Murmuiža People’s University – editor’s note) knew how to create beauty in life. The following scene comes to mind: on a gloomy autumn day, we were driving through water and mud in a car to Mūrmuiža, where a concert was scheduled for us and Māri [Marisa Vētra]. We drove in the same car where Zenta [Mauriņa] and Konstantinas [Raudivi] went on the long journey. Mud, – the car struggles through the darkness for a long, long time. The road seems endless. And suddenly, as the car turns, we see a miracle on the hill: in the big house where we are waiting, candle flames shine in all the windows. Having traveled through the darkness for a long time, this impression of the sudden light was so strong that it remained alive in the memory. Remembering this moment, Māris wrote in the guest book saying goodbye: Per aspera ad astra Through the mud to Mūrmuiž. (Of course, it was in Mari’s characteristic style, but, in essence, very significant).
Letters for Regina Pumpure
Regīna Pumpure (1919– 2000) – a very talented graduate of Garūta’s piano class at the Latvian People’s Conservatory on April 15, 1940. In 1940, she was deported. Garūta believed that Regina continues her pianism (feelings, school) line, that she plays Garūta’s piano works according to, closest to the composer’s feeling. After returning to Latvia, a career as a pianist was no longer possible for various reasons… Regina worked at the Emīla Dārziņš music high school, and Garūta helped her get this position. Regina transcribed Garūta’s compositions, which she did with pleasure, but at the same time it was also a material reflection. She also organized several concerts where she accompanied singers and instrumentalists to the music of Garūta. The 90s brought changes in R. Pumpura’s life – she became a patron of LMA, where fate had prevented her from studying, she also worked at the Lūcija Garūtas Foundation, where her advice and support have been very important.
November 3, 1954
Love Regina. Please forgive me for not writing to you for so long. I received your letter in those days when the worst thing happened to us in life: after unspeakably severe days of illness, death took away my little good friend – our Lailiņa. The thread of my life was broken, it was difficult to talk to people; I felt that I didn’t have the strength to write to you either. .. I am sending you one piano piece. Duets and triplets of folk songs have just come out, but I don’t have them yet. The arrangements and variations of folk songs for piano will be published soon, and when they are printed, I would like to send them to you anyway. I have written a piano concerto in memory of my little friend Lailulīš. I am currently instrumentalizing Part III. Hermanis Braun will play, because my health no longer allows me to play by myself. I hope that someday I will hear a concert in your performance as well. Please write to me, dear Regina, how are you now. I am happy from the bottom of my heart that you have a child, because a child is already an invaluable friend in life.
April 26, 1957
I work a lot; strength is enough, so unexpected and unpredictable, every now and then the work is interrupted by heart attacks. The day before yesterday, again, my engine struggled very hard for nine hours. After that I slept for a long time. Today I’m back in the conservatory, although I don’t really feel refreshed yet. Currently, one student has not come, I want to talk to you. You know, many of the expectations for my work have been dashed for now. You probably know that my opera “The Silver Bird” was accepted into the opera repertoire for 1958. A week later, the management changed. .. First of all, it was expected that the new directorate together with Kult. representatives of the ministry will listen to the opera again. But dir. Meija read the libretto beforehand, something in the ideology he didn’t like. So I haven’t gotten to play yet. My bird will have to wait again, but he’s already used to it, because he’s been waiting for 18 years to fly.
The poetess Mirdza Ķempe was invited in this or another connection, but as far as I know, no major changes were introduced either in the libretto or in the text, which were written by the composer herself. It was probably an unprecedented and perhaps unacceptable precedent at the time, that the libretto and text were also written by the author himself. Lūcija Garūta is leaning down and drinking from the source of the universe…” already in 1936, Zenta Mauriņa writes in her essay about Garūta. I want to add here that Garūta was not just some naive dreamer of flights and stars. He is interested in how and whether it is also technically possible. Since childhood, Lūcija Garūta has been fascinated by the human desire to overcome the earth’s gravity. To fly. Even then she encountered the difficulties of flight. The little child had figured out that he could fly by using a sheet torn behind his back as wings. The jump from the top of the closet ended with a serious crash. Later, the first flight attempts were seen in Jurmala, Riga. Latvian enthusiasts (for example, Eduards Pulpe) quickly joined the development of flights that started in the world. Then, during the war years, the painful realization that the “dream” cars become accomplices of war misery
At the beginning, the song “Man of the Future” (1931) was composed – dedicated to the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to America, which was unsuccessful. And gradually thoughts about the opera “The Silver Bird” (1938) arise. She writes the libretto for the opera herself – because of the selfishness of people, love must perish, just like the “silver bird” – the aircraft. The opera remains unstaged as in 1938, as well as in 1958 and also in 1964, although it was already included in the repertoire…
While working on the opera, Garūta became more interested in the real possibilities of a person to take further flights, moving away from the earth. Also, is it possible to break away from the earth’s gravity, or is there such a strong material for a “bird” that would withstand it. Here, sister Olga’s husband Roberts Krastiņš (1895–1976) was a good interlocutor and consultant – a mathematician and physicist, intern in Potsdam in the 1920s, met Albert Einstein, with whom he had a good understanding.
As R. Pumpure’s memories show, Lūcis (that’s how she calls Garūta) is aware that the development of flight has taken such rapid steps that her opera is no longer “really relevant to the times” – what was just, very recently, a dream, has now become a reality. It is also sad to know that the achievements are not only used for studies of the vastness of stars. Yes, Garūta was a romantic, a dreamer, despite everything, she believed in the good, but at the same time she was also able to see, grasping the usually harsh reality of life.
On May 15 [Hermanis] Braun will play my Piano Concerto at the philharmonic symphony concert. Then I will get to hear him. [Leonids] Wigner had staged some songs with his choir for my composition evening. He sang them at this spring’s creativity showcase organized by the Composers’ Union, which included works created after the III Congress. Then I’ll get to hear those songs too! I have a new joy. You may know that a 110-member youth orchestra works under the direction of Wigner. Pianist [Valdis] Jancis is studying my concerto, because Wigner has proposed to play my concerto with the Youth Orchestra this spring. This, as you understand, makes me happy.
May 31, 1963
Dear Regina. It was a bright, sweet, unforgettable day in my life. I can’t tell you how much joy was brought by the passion, the sincerity with which the sounds that were nurtured in my heart sounded in the voices of children, in the hands of young people. All of you, dear educators, have done that! [This is the evening of Emīl Dārziņš’s music high school in the conservatory hall] My dear friend. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the dramatic power with which you and Anitinė [violinist Anita Zaki] played my work! [“Dramatic moment” / “Regret” (Regret). According to the Garuta manuscript, Regret is the first title of this composition. It got the name “Dramatic moment” after the Second World War, because the question was – what do you regret? Although the piece was written in 1932 – after severe personal experiences] I think that this work, written in the old days, was born anew. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I looked for you everywhere with my eyes at the end of the concert, but I didn’t see you. I wanted to give you some of my flowers, but I didn’t get to shake your hand. Thank you, my friend, from the bottom of my heart for the “Dramatic Moment” and for all the sincerity you put into planning and preparing this evening. Thank you! I know that this evening was also the intention of your heart. But neither you nor I could have predicted that it would turn out to be so infinitely warm and sincere!
March 27, 1968
Dear, dear Regina. A few days ago, I was very happy to hear from Mildina (Br-St.) [Brehmans-Stengels] that she really liked Wilson’s [Severina, with whom Regina Pumpure staged Garuta’s solo songs for the concert] singing at the anniversary celebration where you were together. But the following concerns also arose: I told Mildiņa that Wilson’s evening would be exactly on May 14 [Garūta’s birthday], and Mildiņa expressed great concern to me that, anticipating that she could come out very uncomfortable with the fact that everyone would consider it my evening, would be held in connection with my birthday, and, especially, if I am not doing anything at home yet, to come there with all the greetings. This can lead to an awkward situation where I get more flowers than the soloists. This question had not occurred to me at all, but it is true that I would feel very uncomfortable in that case. Do not think that with this letter I want to change the date of the concert. I already explained to Mildiņa that there is no other date. But I would really, really like to ask, which I have already expressed before. I would really appreciate it if the evening was billed as “Wilson’s creative work evening. In the program Lūcijas Garūta works. The concert is attended by … etc.”. That would be very good! There would be no misunderstandings. It would be even more important if I managed to organize the evening of new works that I had been secretly thinking about in autumn, because two evenings of compositions cannot be given in one year if they originate from the author himself. .. I also wanted to say that on April 26, the 6th secondary school is holding an evening of my work in its school premises, where all choirs and ensembles, from small children to adults, will sing children’s and youth songs in different compositions. It will also be an evening of school choirs, their report, where LG compositions will be on the program.
October 28, 1968
Dear Regina. Just a few days ago, it was possible to submit the scientific work to the conservatory. There was a lot to work on. Well, such a thought came to mind (whether sane or not – I don’t know). There are only a few days left until the children’s and youth composition competition: the last day to send in the mail is October 30. Since there was no time, I had decided not to write anything. And suddenly such a thought came to mind. I have had these small piano works [cycle “Play in the forest”] for years, I had imagined that they could be published with small illustrations. I have never given them to the publishing house, because when I have asked, there is never any paper for publication. I should probably fight more energetically, but I can’t do it anymore. And so it has remained.
It occurred to me, how about sending them to a competition? There is no ideology there. But maybe it would be useful for performances in the first grades of schools and in kindergartens. I have thought of both little pianists and little dancers. [Some pieces from the cycle have been played a lot among young pianists. However, they are not only very expressive, but also quite technically difficult. I don’t know if this cycle of compositions was also involved in a performance in Latvia. But I can tell you about a performance in Germany in 1997/98. year. At Eurythmieschuhle Hannover’s performance based on the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale Der Eisehan, with the music of Lūcija Garūta from “Play in the Forest”. It should also be noted that this thesis show was a great success. It was then included in the Merzteather repertoire and played for another couple of years.]
March 13, 1969
Dear, dear Regina! A thousand thanks to you! An incredible miracle has happened: both my cycles – piano works and song cycles – have received first prizes. I have to thank only Your diligent hands, Your love, Your great skill in writing notes for the fact that the pieces that I loved so much will go to children and adults. Thank you also for encouraging me not to leave the cycle of songs unwritten. It was so sudden! .. Yesterday I slept again with a heart attack, – they call me to the phone [an antique phone was located in the dining room on the wall in Garuta’s house at the time; when the composer’s health became even more difficult, a desk phone with a long “string” was purchased, then conversations became more accessible], Ernītis leaves in my place, – and comes back to me – crying with joy! The work is very dear to my heart, but I did not expect such an outcome, such a message.
November 15, 1970
There was such a happy mood because my harmony book had been handed over to the publishing house. The lectures are all there – I put the numbers on the sides of the page, it turned out that there are more than 1400, besides that, there are also assignments. It is so indescribably better to sit at your beloved console. .. It would be even better with a lovely piano – but that is a distant dream. And even though it would be a utopia, I hold the hope in my heart that one day I will be able to at least play for myself, to fantasize like before. When? Sweet, sweet kisses, Lūcītis
Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Lūcija Garūta, the magazine “Māksla” gives the opportunity to express their thoughts “in the length of one page”. This is what the composer does in the article “With fervor of the heart and awe” (“Māksla”, second edition, 1972).
.. And finally, let me make a wish… You should always keep in your heart the awe of the sublimity of art, the awareness that art is a treasure of humanity found in ancient times, nurtured by generations, always creating new forms of works of art. In art, man has been able to express himself, to find a way to other people’s hearts; art has helped man to become more noble by perfecting himself..He who devotes his life to art must love art more than himself… I want to say: one must have the courage to use drastic means of expression, if the creative artist feels that his work of art requires it; but it also takes courage to refuse them if they do not connect with the creative intention of the artist or speak against the inner essence of the creative artist. Immortal are the works that have been burned by the human heart.