LŪCIJA GARŪTA . "DIEVS, TAVA ZEME DEG!" Cantata for tenor, baritone, choir, and organ (1943)

The creative search of composer, pianist, theoretician, and teacher Lūcija Garūta (1902-1977), develops through the piano and composition sections at the Conservatory of Latvia to Paris Conservatory, through work as a concert artist and pianist at the Riga Opera and Riga Radio to teaching at Jāzeps Mediņš College of Music and Latvian State Conservatory.

Songs are the most numerous musical compositions in Garūta’s oeuvre, followed by piano pieces, symphonies, chamber music, pieces for organ, and choir. Cantata for tenor, baritone, choir, and organ "Dievs, Tava zeme deg!" ("Lord, Thine Land Is Burning!") (1943) with lyrics by poet Andrejs Eglītis (1912-2006) has a central place in this long list: it has served as artistic testimony to a tragic era, a prayer full of despair and hope, a masterpiece banned under the Soviets but triumphant during the so-called "Singing Revolution" of the late 1980s.

On March 15, 1944 the cantata was performed for the first time in the crowded Old Gertrud Church by the legendary Reiters Choir, soloists  Ādolfs Kaktiņš, Mariss Vētra, with the author playing the organ. Among the audience, pressed against the church door, was the author of the lyrics, the winner of the competition for "Latvian Prayer to God".

Until 1982, the complete version of the cantata was thought to have been irretrievably lost because in Soviet Latvia all recordings of the composition had been destroyed. Yet composer Longins Apkalns, using musical material found in radio archives in Germany, managed to reconstruct the cantata and it was played on May 8, 1982 in Stockholm.

In 1988, chamber choir "Ave Sol" under conductor Imants Kokars, resumed performing it in Latvia, eventually passing it on to other local choirs as well as singers in Germany and Japan.

Lūcija Garūta

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