"What comes from God – that is real and true. One has to hear music in themselves. If one does not hear it, then there is no meaning."
Vilnis Šmīdbergs was born on June 14th, 1944 in Ventspils. He only began to learn music at the age of 14, and he enrolled at the Ventspils College of Music, where for the first three years he studied choir conducting, after that – music theory with Dzintars Kļaviņš, and composition with Kārlis Tenne. In 1964, he finished the Ventspils College of Music and enrolled at the Latvian State Conservatory (now the Latvian Academy of Music) in the Composition Department, but after two months he was called to military service. After returning, from 1967 to 1971, he performed in the art rock group Katedrāle, helping build the foundation for Latvian rock music. He was a part of the intelligentsia of the time – he spent time at the legendary cafe Kaza, he met Biruta Delle, Māra Ķimele, Aivars Neibarts, Ināra Eglīte, Armands Melnalksnis, and others. He began a friendship with the composer Mārtiņš Brauns. In 1970, he resumed his studies at the Conservatory in the composition class of Ādolfs Skulte, and graduated that in 1975. In 1977, for the first time he travelled to the composer’s new work centre in Ivanovo and altogether visited 12 times.
In 1977, the first line-up of the group Sīpoli was formed (their name came later) and he invited Mārtiņš Brauns to participate, and in 1978, he left the group. From 1982 to 1989, he was the sound director of the Riga studio of the Soviet record company Melodija. At times he was also the sound director at Latvian Radio, TV, and Telefilma, and he directed a number of amateur groups, and worked as the musical director of the dance ensemble Daile. He was the musician of the Interior Ministry State Police Wind Orchestra (1993-2009).
As of 1992, he has been working at the Jugla School of Music as a teacher of music theory. He has received the Latvian Great Music Award 2010 and the AKKA/LAA Author’s Award (2014).
Mārīte Dombrovska Photo - Edmunds Mickus © LMIC