Without people, towns would be nothing more than cold walls and empty streets. Who are the exceptional residents who carried Riga’s name into the world with their accomplishments over the years?
Baryshnikov was born in Riga. His dancing career began at Riga Choreography School and continued at Vaganov’s Choreography Institute in St Petersburg (known then as Leningrad). Baryshnikov received his first recognition in the second half of the ‘60s. In 1974, while in Toronto with a ballet troupe of the Moscow Big Theatre, Baryshnikov decided never to return to the Soviet Union. Later in an interview to British New Statesman, Baryshnikov said: «I am an individualist. Apparently it’s a crime there [Soviet Union]».
For his work in art, Baryshnikov received countless awards. In 1977, he was nominated for an Oscar for his first role the film industry in ‘The Turning Point’ film. In 2000, Baryshnikov received the prestigious Kennedy Center Arts Honorary Award for lifetime achievement.
Baryshnikov returned to his homeland in 1997 following an invitation of then the head of Latvia’s National Opera Andrejs Zagars. The second time he visited Latvia was 2009.
Baryshnikov has been working with theatrical performances in recent years. This includes director Alvis Hermanis’ Brodsky/Baryshnikov mono performance and Robert Wilson’s Letter to a Man. The latter will be available to Latvia’s audience throughout 3 – 7 August.
Gidons Kremers (1947) – founder of Kremerata Musica chamber music festival
Kremers has produced more than 120 albums. Many of those albums have received prestigious international awards. The world famous Latvian violin player and Grammy award winner learned to play the instrument from his father and grandfather during his childhood.
The famous Latvian graduate of Emils Darzina Music School and Davids Oistrahs Moscow Conservatory has performed in all famous concert halls around the world alongside the most famous orchestras in Europe, Asia and USA.
In 1981, Gidons Kremers founded a chamber music festival in Lockenhaus. Since 1992, this festival is known as Kremerata Musica.
Mischa Maisky (1948) – the only cellist who learned from Rostropovic and Pyatigorsky
Riga-born Mischa Maisky considers himself a citizen of the world. «I play an Italian cello that has Austrian and German stings and a French bow. My daughter was born in Paris, my oldest son was born in Brussels and my youngest son was born in Italy. I have a Japanese car, I wear a Swiss wristwatch and Indian necklace. I have homes in all places that love and respect classic music».
He is considered one of the most talented cellists in the world. He is also the only cellist who was taught by Mstislav Rostropovic and Gregory Pyatigorsky.
Mariss Jansons (1943) – one of the world-famous conductors
Jansons has conducted world famous orchestras for nearly 45 years. He began his career with St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra in 1973. He then became the director of Oslo Philharmonic. Since 2004, he has been in charge of Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. It is no surprise Jansons was added to the Top 3 list of the world’s conductors last year.
In 2016, Jansons received commendation from the President of the Republic of Latvia Raimonds Vejonis for his contribution to the interpretation of Latvia’s and world music and promotion of Latvia’s image.
Andris Nelsons (1978) – Grammy award nominee and chief conductor of Boston Symphony Orchestra
Andris Nelsons accomplishment-rich career began in 2003 at Latvia’s National Opera. Since 2007, he has conducted the leading orchestras of many countries. In 2013, he was appointed as the head conductor of Boston Symphony Orchestra – this made him the youngest conductor of this orchestra in the past 100 years.