Until the middle of the 19th century, the Latvian literature consisted of orally traditional folk poetry and German influenced religious edifice literature. At the national awakening, the Latvian literary language became a modern poem. In 1879, the first Latvian novel, Mērnieku laiki (‘The Land Surveyors’ Time’), was published by the Kaudzīte brothers, and already at the beginning of the independence period in 1918 Latvian literature had been integrated into the Western. Rūdolfs Blaumanis wrote psychological short stories and popular plays, Kārlis Skalbe pantheistically inspired lyric and art stories. Roman art was developed in psychologically individualistic works by Jānis Jaunsudrabin̦š, as well as social criticism of Andriev’s Lower and socialist tendency by Andrejs Upīts.Jānis Rainis presented philosophical, symbolic dramas, his wife Aspazija addressed women’s problems in passion-filled plays.
- Countryaah: Population and demographics of Latvia, including population pyramid, density map, projection, data, and distribution.
During the interwar period, the city became a topical theme and Aleksandrs Čaks its chief poet. After the Second World War, a literary vacuum arose. Many writers had been killed, others had moved to the West. Literary development was hampered by the repression of the Soviet regime. The 1960’s lyric was characterized by hidden protest and bitterness, with names such as Vizma Belševica, Ojārs Vācietis and Knuts Skujenieks. During the 1980’s, Māra Zālītes of folkloric symbolism was the most prominent of poems. Within the prose, Regīna Ezera further developed the psychological novel. Until the 1970’s, a national exile literature flourished, but as early as the 1960’s, young poets protested against a national canon and wrote about individual problems instead.
After the liberation from the Soviet Union, several writers began to look back on history. Until his death in 2005, Vizma Belševica was a dominant name in Latvian literature, whose lyric and autobiographical novels were translated into many languages. Imants Ziedonis has been prominent as a lyricist since the 1960’s and has also made great efforts for Latvian folk culture. Among the most noted writers in the early 2000’s are Inga Abele (born 1972), who has written lyric and drama besides intriguing novels.
Drama and theater
In Latvian culture, the theater, beginning with the folkloric masquerade shows, occupies a prominent place. The popularity of the scenic theater grew rapidly, so that by the end of the 19th century there was an amateur theater in almost every major society. The theater has also played a significant role in the national self-consciousness during the Latvian people’s many occupations.
The first Latvian published play was Holberg’s “Jeppe on the Mountain” (1790). The professional theater was founded by olfdolfs Alunāns who worked as a playwright, director, actor and producer. Latvian dramatists often deal with socially critical and psychological ideas, e.g. Rūdolfs Blaumanis. After World War II, many Latvian theater people appeared in exile. At home in Latvia, Gunārs Priede, Pauls Putniņš, Lelde Stumbre, Māra Zālīte interpreted with the help of various symbols the people’s tribulation during the Soviet yoke.
Even since the nation regained its independence, Latvian theater has maintained strong links with Russian theater tradition. A Russian-language scene is still active. The new theater in Riga, with its leader Alvis Hermanis, is a leading contemporary conscious force. With the Theater Observatory, Galina Politjuk has created an experimental center. Another leading female director is Māra Ķimele.
Until the Soviet Union occupation in 1940, Latvia had limited, sporadic film production. Vilis Lapeniek’s (1908–83) “Zvejnieka partly” (“The Fisherman’s Son”, 1939) is, however, a classic from the interwar period.
Under the Soviet occupation, a documentary film production with propagandistic overtones was set up under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, but after Stalin’s death in 1953, control was eased and more and more feature films were made. The completion of a recording studio in Riga in 1963 gave further momentum to the new production policy. Pavel Armand’s (1902–64) “Ka gulbji balti padebesi iet” (“Like swans glide white clouds”, 1957) and Aleksandrs Leimanis (1913-90) “Tobago maina kursu” (“Tobago changes course”, 1965) are two early examples from this time.
In the 1970’s, Gunārs Pieses (1931-96) became popular with films such as “Put, woeini” (“Blow, Wind”, 1973). Towards the end of the century, Janis Steics (born 1936) became a leading name with often politically allegorical films such as “Limuzin’s January Night Crash” (“Midsummer-colored limousine”, 1981), “Cilveka berns” (“Human Child”, 1991) and “Veca’s pagastmajas” mystery ”(‘The Mystery of the Old Assembly Home’, 2000).
In recent years, among others, Varis Brasla (born 1939) and Laila Pakalnina (born 1962) have been prominent.
Since the turn of the millennium 2000, feature film production has been at 2-4 films per year.
The arts of art had a first flourishing period in the 400’s with stylized ornaments in metal work, fabrics and wood carvings. In the patriarchically controlled medieval agricultural society, traditional Baltic ornamentation was given less space. Early Roman and Gothic art was created in an atmosphere of surprising colonization.
From the latter part of the 18th century many Latvian artists received their education mainly in Saint Petersburg but also in Dresden, Berlin and Paris. During the first half of the 19th century, a number of Baltic German artists in Latvia had some influence on the development. During the stage of general national awakening in the mid-19th century, Latvian art increasingly absorbed and followed modern Western European art directions. Among the first significant artists of Latvian birth are the national romantic landscape painter Jūlijs Feders and the history painter Kārlis Hūns. At the end of the 19th century, the association “Rūķis” was founded in Saint Petersburg with the task of safeguarding Latvian culture and creating a national Latvian art. As the true founder of Latvian art, Jānis Rozentāls, Jānis Valters and Vilhelms Purvītis who in nationally emphasized landscape painting (Purvītis) and social depictions (Valters and Rozentāls) had developed an impressionistic style. In 1896 Latvian artists gathered for the first time in an exhibition in Riga. At the beginning of the 20th century there were two art schools and several art associations in Riga, and in 1905 an art museum was opened there.
At the time of the First World War, there was a clearer reorientation to the Western European art streams, mainly through Jāzeps Grosvalds and Ģederts Eliass. In 1919 the Latvian Academy of Art was founded. While the lyrical depiction of nature in the national romantic spirit prevailed within the academy, the “Riga group “‘s modernism grew ever stronger. Among the most prominent artists were Roman’s Suta, Aleksandra Beļcova, Niklāvs Strunke, Erasts Šveics, Oto Skulme and Jānis Liepiņš. During the 1930’s, realism again gained a prominent role, represented by, among other things, Ģederts Eliass, one of the great peasant painters. A unique feature of Latvian art life was the porcelain painting of the 1920’s, represented by Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova.
The Soviet occupation in 1940 meant that art life in Latvia was given a politically controlled social-realist orientation. However, individual artists such as Jānis Pauļuks managed to preserve a personal expression. A positive change occurred in the late 1950’s when a new generation of artists guarded the restoration of artistic quality, and especially in the 1970’s, works were created with a distinctly poetic mood by Džemma Skulme, Edgar’s Iltners, Boriss Bērziņš, Biruta Baumane and others..
In today’s Latvia, several artists have laid the groundwork for non-traditional Latvian art: Ieva Iltnere, Sandra Krastiņa, Aija Zariņa, Jānis Mitrēvics, Edgar Vērpe and others. During the 1980’s, a new direction was created with connection to the performance art.
Among artists in the 21st century who work with installations and video art include Arnis Balcus (born 1978), Gints Gabrāns (born 1978) and Zane Mellupe (born 1981). Photographer Inta Ruka (born 1958) has received international attention in recent decades for her pictures of a Latvia in great change since its entry into the EU.
Until the end of the 12th century, only wooden buildings were erected in Latvia, usually in knot-carving technology. After the entrance of the German Crusaders, the first walled buildings were built, including the church in Ikšķile from 1185, but as far back as the 16th century, 2/3 of the churches were built of wood.
During the 13th-14th centuries, cities arose at several of the feudal castles. Then also new fortified castles were built, characterized by a square courtyard with towers in the outer corners. A stately example of Gothic is the church of Svētā Pētera in Riga. The side ships were covered in the 15th century with complicated star arches. Similar arches were also struck in 1522 across the hall of the Order in the castle of Cēsis. The church of Svētā Jāņa in Cēsis, after rebuilding in the 15th and 16th centuries, is a late Gothic masterpiece with web-shaped arches and staircases; the altar portion from 1587–89 is one of the few examples of Renaissance architecture. Churches built in the countryside at the same time have a puritanical simplicity.
Baroque’s most important building work in Latvia was the modernization of Riga’s city wall and the expansion of the city’s citadel during the second half of the 17th century by Johan von Rodenburgh (Dutch in Swedish service) and Erik Dahlbergh. Many churches in the Vidzeme landscape were transformed in Baroque style, and in the Kurzeme landscape several magnificent church interiors were created. The manors up to this time had separated themselves from the farms only by their size, but now they began to build so characteristic mansard roofs for the Baroque. The magnificent castles of Jelgava and Rundāle, designed by BF Rastrelli for Kurland’s Duke Biron, were erected in the 1730’s-60’s and restored in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Interesting Late Baroque-style buildings are the church of Trisvienības in Liepāja (JK Dorn, 1742–58), the “Cavaliers’ House” in Kroņvircava (Severin Jensen,
In the latter half of the 18th century, town plans and building conditions in Latvia were characterized by a classic geometric tightness. In the beginning of the 19th century, several mansions were built with the central column portions typical of Late Classicism, more or less accentuated lateral premises and smooth facades.
Industrialism meant rapid urbanization during the second half of the 19th century. After carefully prepared city plans, new neighborhoods were built in Daugavpils, Rēzekne, Liepāja and Ventspils. In Riga, the city wall was demolished and replaced with a representative boulevard ring in 1856. At the same time, several apartment buildings in eclectic style were erected by the first educated Latvian architect JF Baumanis.
Around the turn of the 1900 the Art Nouveau style flourished. In the center of Riga, about a third of the buildings are built in Art Nouveau according to drawings by local architects, most of whom are educated at the 1862 Polytechnic Institute founded in Riga. The “Riga school” in Art Nouveau architecture influenced the architecture of the entire Baltic region and surrounding regions in the early 1900’s. In Riga, Michail Eisenštein’s decorative house in the unique area of Alberta iela appears to be the most imaginative. More characteristic, however, are more rational and restrained houses with vertical facade compositions as well as national romantic houses in a style analogous to Finnish architecture. Several of the art nouveau-style buildings in Riga have been designed by the Latvian architects Konstantin Peksens, Eizens Laube, Janis Alksnis and Aleksandrs Vanags.
The first buildings of functionalism consist of residential buildings in Riga from 1926–27. In the 1930’s neoclassical houses were also built. sanatorium in Ķemeri 1933 by Eižens Laube, justice palace in Riga 1936 by Fridrichs Skujiņš and association house in Daugavpils 1936 by Verners Vitands.
After the Second World War, some houses were built in Stalinist social-realist style. From Moscow, a large-scale suburban building was sanctioned during the 1960’s and 1970’s, where most houses were built of mountable elements and formed box-like residential areas without communal and service rooms. The 1970’s and 1980’s were characterized by a search for regional styles, even postmodernist colors. The architect Gunnar Birkerts, since 1949 active in the United States, has in recent years designed some new buildings in Riga, among others. The Occupation Museum and the new National Library opened in 2012.
The Latvian people’s tax is very large (about 1½ million records have been made). In an expressive, rigorous verse and music form, life is reflected from the cradle to the grave, ethical and aesthetic values, the cult of death and a confidential interaction with the living nature. The songs, which probably have very ancient origins, are based on improvisation. The majority are short and reflect a thought in four metric-strictly text lines, sung in two verses, often with rewrites. The long songs have a similar structure (verses, choruses) and have epic features. Everyone is stylistically rich in alliteration and anaphor. The issuing of visas began in the 19th century. in Krišjānis Baron’s “Latvju Dainas” (1–6, 1894–1915). Research was started by Andrejs Jurjāns in 1884 and continued in the 20th century by a.k.a. Jākabs Vītoliņš, which also released tunes in 5 bands 1958–86. In dance songs you can find Swedish tracks (hambo). The older folk music instrumentation included violin, citranecockle, bagpipe dūdas, flute stabule as well as horns, lures and rasselin trideksnis.
With Christianity, Catholic cult music was introduced in the 13th century. From the 15th century, art music is mentioned in the cities. The Kurla court in Mitau (now Jelgava) had its own chapel in the 16th century and later invited foreign opera companies. In the 18th century Riga, composer Johann Fischer and Johann Valentin Meder, the latter also organist as well as the successor Johann Gottfried Müthel. A German opera theater was opened in Riga in 1782 and the music life led by German associations increased significantly.
Latvia has often provided an intermediary link also between Western Europe and Russia. Many are the prominent musicians who have worked mainly in Riga during different periods: the young Richard Wagner was chaplain at the city’s German theater in 1837-39 (and has today been named one of the main streets and the concert hall named after him) and during 1840- this century, musicians such as Franz Liszt, Clara Schumann, Anton Rubinstein and Hector Berlioz performed in the city.
After Latvia’s first independence in 1918, music developed rapidly: opera houses were opened in Riga (1919) and Liepāja (1922), and the great composer of the time Jāzeps Vītols (1863-1948) founded Latvia’s 1919 Music Academy, which soon became a Baltic music center.
Among the symphony orchestras are Latvia’s national symphony orchestra that originally originated in the 1920’s, when a smaller ensemble was formed in Riga under the name of the Latvian Radio Symphony Orchestra; it got its current numeric in 1961. Mark also makes Liepāja Symphony Orchestra, founded as early as 1886.
Leading composers were Alfrēds Kalniņš, who wrote the first Latvian opera, and the prolific Jānis Mediņš, who spent 18 years in Sweden. Jānis Kalniņš (1904–2000) also wrote operas, and Volfgangs Dārziņš (1906–62) piano concerts, singing and choral works, etc. In the struggle to preserve his nationality during the crushing of Soviet Latvia after the Second World War, production increased significantly. In over 40 symphonies, including Jānis Ivanovs (1906–83), Ādolfs Skulte (1909–2000) and Romualds Kalsons (born 1936), used a modern tone language; more radical is Pauls Dambis (born 1936), Imants Kalniņš (born 1941)), Pēteris Plakidis (born 1947) and perhaps the most internationally established Pēteris Vasks (born 1946) in vocal and orchestral works. Conductors such as Arvīds Jansons (1914–84) and the twin brothers Gido and Imants Kokars (1921–2018 and 1921–2011) have visited Sweden. Driving has long had a prominent place in Latvia. of the Latvian Radio Choir and the State Choir Latvia. The first Latvian song festival took place as early as 1873.
With the regained independence in 1991, gates for impulses from the west were opened. Sweden has played a major role here, as has the reunification with Latvian exile musicians such as Tālivaldis Ķeniņš (1919–2008), Longīns Apkalns (1923–99) and Gundaris Pone (1932–94).
Other renowned musicians from Latvia include conductors such as Arvīds Jansons (1914–84) and Mariss Jansons, choral conductor Kaspars Putniņš (born 1966), violinist Gidon Kremer with ensemble Kremerata Baltica and cellist Mischa Maisky, as well as soprano and opera artist Inessa.
During the Soviet era, rock music offered an opportunity to be rebellious and therefore became popular. Groups such as Pērkons challenged the system with their music and lyrics and received great symbolic value among young people. The Dzeltenie Pastnieki group were pioneers of reggae and new wave during the Soviet era, after which the group broadened its genre selection further.
The city of Liepāja is known for its rock life with groups like Līvi. During the 2000’s, the symphony rock group Olive Mess has distinguished itself as one of the most famous in the Baltic States.
The oldest folk dances consist of ring and chain dances (dārzinš) in two or three beats, performed at a fast pace, with predominantly skipped steps, small jumps or so-called pole steps. A younger type consists of pair dances, most of the local variants of polka and drum. Very scattered are e.g. Jandāls (canter), Ačkups (polka), Sudmalinas and Rucavietis. Popular, especially during the latter part of the 19th century, became the contra dances and staging dances for 2-4 couples.
Folk dance ensembles arose during the late 19th century and became widely distributed during the 1900’s. From the 1970’s, folk dance in spontaneous and organized form was renewed, in connection with the liberation from the Soviet Union. In 1873 started the nationally significant Latvian folk song and folk dance festival in Riga, which has been held every five years since.
Ballet has been performed in Riga since the end of the 18th century; a permanent ballet ensemble was formed in 1911. After the First World War, the choreographer and dancer Voldemārs Komisārs in 1919 created a professional ballet company at the national opera in Riga. The first ballet school was opened in 1932 in the same city; where he studied Michail Baryshnikov and Māris Liepa. During the 1930’s a national ballet repertoire emerged with works by a.k.a. Jānis Kalniņš and Jānis Mediņš, who wrote the first Latvian ballet, “Mīlas uzvara” (‘The Triumph of Love’).
Most contemporary dance forms occur, such as rock, disco, salsa, street and line dance. Among several professional modern dance companies are Agris Dan̦il̦evičs Dzirnas and Olga Žitluhina’s Modern Dance Company. One of Latvia’s foremost dancers and choreographers in the early 2000’s is Simona Orinska (born 1978), who has renewed the buto dance and also works with dance therapy.
The traditional folk culture in Latvia is basically a peasant culture, formed under the quality of life, which ceased here gradually after 1817. Although the country is largely made up of plains, the conditions have varied and contributed to cultural differences. Agriculture has had a special concentration on the central, fertile Zemgales plain – with the old Hanseatic city of Riga. Fishing has made its mark on the culture of the people, especially along the sandy beaches of the Baltic Sea within the woodland of Kurland, and dairy farming has been of special importance in the north-eastern highland, Livland. A distinctive cultural area in the east and south-east forms the lush Lettgallen through the links east.
In fact, Latvia can be geographically geographically divided into a western and a (much smaller) eastern cultural area. Early cultural influences have reached the country in the west from Central Europe over Poland and western Lithuania. Thus, a western distribution had e.g. a traditional residential building with a porch used as a kitchen, whereas the eastern European smokehouse has constituted the traditional housing type in the east. In addition, the Estonian “dwelling” of old has been found in the north.
A central place in cultural preservation is Latvia’s Ethnographic Outdoor Museum (1924) in Riga, with about 100 buildings representing the peasant culture in different parts of the country.
Football was the foremost sport during the independence period of 1918-40 and has continued to be the most popular summer sport in the country. The men’s team’s advancement to the 2004 European finals further contributed to the football interest in Latvia.
Ice hockey and basketball are other traditional team sports in Latvia. The men’s national team in ice hockey has played in all World Cup and Olympic tournaments since 1999. Dinamo Riga is the most successful ice hockey club and the only Latvian team in the Russian professional league KHL. Among the top players are Helmuts Balderis (born 1952), Sandis Ozoliņš (born 1972) and goalkeeper Artūrs Irbe (born 1967). Latvia hosted the Ice Hockey World Cup in 2006.
Tobogganing such as bob, toboggan and skeleton are other popular winter sports in the country.
Javelin throwing is a different sport in Latvia. No less than four Latvian people have won the Olympic Games in the branch. Most famous is Jānis Lūsis (gold medalist in Mexico City 1968), who also set two world records.
Other Latvian sports stars include long-distance runner Jeļena Prokopčuka (born 1976) and BMX cyclist Māris Štrombergs (born 1987; Olympic gold 2008).