Ilze Šarkovska-Liepiņa (University of Latvia)
Significant changes have taken place since the 1980s and 1990s with respect to the function and significance of artists in society. In the latter decades, creative artists were directly involved in changes in the political process; their works evinced emotional pathos and consciousness of the artist’s mission in the consolidation of society. Now, paradigms have changed, from attempts to confirm through music a sense of national identity to the aesthetic of Neo-Romanticism, to creative investigations of new technologies, and to concern for sound as a personal value.
Today’s composers, many of whom work in the tradition of post-war Western avant-gardes, have assumed key roles in the environment of classic music making in Latvia. Many of their works exhibit elements of a Romantic aesthetic, particularly among the middle and later generations of composers, such as Pēteris Vasks, Pēteris Plakidis, and Maija Einfelde. Also vital are Neo-Classical trends, echoes of the “Folklore Wave,” and so forth.
In recent years, the works of Latvian composers have been notable for their great stylistic and technological diversity; there is no single identifiable Latvian school of composition. The heritage of the past and the interaction of tradition with new experiences enables one to perceive the coalescence of a new set of aesthetic values, already evinced in some musical works by a new generation of: such as Mārtiņš Viļums, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Santa Ratniece, and others.