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Jēkabs Mediņš

(22.03.1885 - 27.11.1971 )

Composer, conductor, and methodologist in music education. As a result of his educational and creative work, Jēkabs Mediņš secured an enduring place in the musical life of Latvia in the 20th century, particularly in the field of choral singing.

Brother of the composers Janis Medins and Jazeps Medins. Born in Riga, Jekabs Medins learned his first musical skills in the family. After completing his secondary education in 1900, and obtaining his teaching diploma in 1902, he attended the First Music College of Riga from 1903 to 1905, concurrently also playing in various orchestras. He then taught music and directed the choir and orchestra at Valmiera Teachers' College until 1917. In addition, he gave many concert recitals and took part in summer masterclasses at the Musikhochschule in Berlin. Here he studied singing with Rome Opera soloist Siga Garso, violin with Goby Eberhardt, and composition with Hugo Rasch.

After a spell in Russia as a refugee, Mediņš returned to Latvia in 1920 and taught for a year at the LC. From 1921 to 1944 he lived in Jelgava, taught at Jelgava Teachers' College, was Director and teacher at the College of Music in Jelgava, and from 1930 also effective director of the Jelgava Philharmonic Society. In 1944 Mediņš moved to Rīga and spent the rest of his life working at the LSC. He was appointed a professor in 1947, founded the department of choral conducting, and was LSC Rector 1948–1951. He was also Chairman of the Latvian Composers' Union between 1948 and 1950. He was Principal Conductor at the Tenth (1948), 11th (1950) and 12th (1955) Latvian National Song Festivals.

Although intensively occupied with teaching and concert work, Mediņš nevertheless produced a large number of compositions, many of which were designed for teaching and many for amateur and home performance. In addition to many vocal works and with obvious concern for expanding the teaching repertoire, he also wrote 11 concertos for various solo instruments with symphony orchestra, piano sonatinas, and pieces for various instruments with piano. His string quartets and symphonic miniatures belong to the world of professional concert music. Of over 130 Latvian folk song arran-gements for choir, two thirds are written for children's choir. His arrangements feature mature, emotionally well-balanced musical ideas with a commendable feel for the nature of choral writing.