26.04.–05.05.2024 / Tartu
Pēteris Plakidis

Pēteris Plakidis (19472017) was a Latvian composer and pianist. He graduated from the Jāzeps Vītols State Conservatory in 1970, having been taught by composers Jānis Ivanovs and Valentīns Utkins. Plakidis undertook further postgraduate studies at the conservatory, which he completed in 1975. From 1969 to 1974, he held the position of musical director for the Latvian National Theatre. In 1975, he became a tutor in the composition department at the Latvian Academy of Music, and in 1991, he became professor of composition.

Plakidis received much recognition as a composer. In 1969, he received a diploma at the All-Union Young Composers’ Competition for his composition Music for Piano, String Orchestra and Timpani and was the recipient of the Jānis Ivanovs Prize in 1987. In 1996, Plakidis won the Latvian Grand Music Award for Variations for Orchestra. Plakidis’s music is often part of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra’s repertoire, and he was commissioned to write orchestral works for their 60th, 65th and 70th anniversaries. His works have also been performed by the New York University Chamber Music Society which performed his Pastorale. The New York Times described the piano part as couched in brash, clustered harmonies and the piece as fascinating. Distant Song has featured as a piano piece for ABRSM exams. In 2007, record label Toccata Classics released an album of the composer’s works entitled Peteris Plakidis: Music for String Orchestra on which the composer acted as a pianist.

The music of Pēteris Plakidis is rooted in the melodic character of Latvian folk music, which imbues all his works with a remarkable strength and beauty. Renaissance and Baroque polyphony and forms, such as fugue, chaconne, canon and variation, provide the strong internal organisation that binds together a remarkable and moving synthesis of disparate elements. Plakidis’s music evokes the meditative power of nature and the distinct character of his Latvian roots. He had a unique voice, he was a musical personality full of harmonic warmth, rhythmic excitement and dramatic lyricism. Pēteris Plakidis’ creative work covers almost all genres. In symphonic music, he has brought together the stylistics of neo-classicism and a romantic perception of the world. A perfect sense of form and an original development, often combined with somewhat ascetic, mostly diatonic and a very vivid melos, characteristic of Latvian folk music, dominate.

Photo: Jānis Porietis