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date: 25 February 2020

Latvia (Latvija)locked

  • Joachim Braun,
  • Arnolds Klotiņš
  •  and Martin Boiko



Country in eastern Europe. It is on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, founded in 1918. It was annexed to the Soviet Union in 1940, although few other nations formally recognized this incorporation. The country regained its national independence in 1991.

Joachim Braun, revised by Arnolds Klotiņš

The earliest evidence of musical life in what is now the territory of Latvia consists in some archaeological finds of end-blown flutes and strung rattles dating from the Neolithic period. By the end of the 1st millennium the tribes living in this area had developed a number of instruments, such as flutes with five finger-holes and the kokle, a type of plucked zither (see §2(iii) below). Although some professional elements were probably present, by the time of the Teutonic conquest in the 12th century the musical culture of the Baltic population was based on folk traditions (see §2 below).

While the Latvian population was reduced to serfdom and did not develop an art culture until the 19th century, the Germans developed their own, significant musical life; it was based mainly on German values and no local trend or school developed. Most musical activities were concentrated in the country’s capital, Riga. The ...

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Yearbook for Traditional Music