Imants Kalniņš

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Imants Kalniņš. Photo sourced from Wikipedia

Imants Kalniņš (born 26 May 1941 in Riga, Latvian SSR) is a Latvian composer, musician and politician. Having studied classical, as well as choral music, he has written six symphonies, several operas (including the first rock opera in the USSR, "Ei, jūs tur!" (Hey, you there!)), oratorios, cantatas, choir songs, and many pieces of movie and theater music. However, he is generally best known for his rock songs and is to be considered the first composer of intellectual rock music in Latvia.

During the 1960s, Kalniņš led the Liepāja rock band 2xBBM, which found success due to its its heartfelt songs and hippy-like lifestyle. Kalniņš became the symbol of the spirituality, rebellion and worldview of the generation, and it was emphasized by the fact the band was forced to stop playing because of the pressure from official institutions. However, this doesn't stop Kalniņš' music from being heard - it is played by the incredibly popular band Menuets (Latvian for 'minuet'), which plays songs almost exclusively by Kalniņš.

During the 1970s, Kalniņš returned to writing symphonic music.[1] In 1984, he wrote the rock oratorio "Kā jūra, kā zeme, kā debess" (Like the sea, like the earth, like the sky) with Juris Kulakovs and Juris Sējāns. The oratorio was the first thing played by the band Pērkons ('Thunder') to the general public. With it Kalniņš returned to rock and roll once more. He wrote many new songs for Pērkons, and these same songs led him to start his own band, Turaidas Roze ('The Rose Of Turaida'). However, the band never gained the recognition and adoration that Menuets and Pērkons did.

During the third awakening of the Latvian people, when Latvia regained independence, Kalniņš took part actively in Tautas Fronte (Popular Front) political organization, which played the most important part in ending Latvia's occupation by the USSR.

The festival most associated with Kalniņš is the Imantdienas ('The Days of Imants'), extremely popular during the Soviet times and therefore banned. The tradition was reintroduced in 1995, and since then has happened every year (with the exception of 1997, when the composer was away on a trip, and 2009 – in a time of economic downturn).

More recently, Imants Kalniņš has worked together with the well-known Latvian musician Ainars Mielavs, and their collaboration has resulted in albums containing primarily music by Kalniņš, such as "Par lietām, kas tā ar' nekad nepāriet" (About things that never truly go away) (1997), "Es redzēju sapnī" (I Saw in a dream) (1998) and "I Love You" (1999; despite the title, the lyrics are mostly in Latvian in this album).

In 2000, music for the 1973 movie "Pūt, vējiņi" (Blow, wind, blow) was re-recorded by the Liepāja Symphony Orchestra as well as many recognized singers.

Kalniņš also composed the song "Pilsētā, kurā piedzimst vējš" ("In the city where the wind is born"), the anthem of Liepāja.

He is also a politician, member of the 8th and 9th Saeima for For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK.

In April 2015, Kalniņš was reported to have converted Islam by some outlets,[2] but Kalniņš himself has later refuted these claims.[3]

Private life

Kalniņš was married to the actor Helga Dancberga who died in 2019. They had three children, Dana Kalniņa-Zaķe who became the lead for the Latvian Association of Professional Health Care Chaplains, actress Rezija Kalniņa and Krists Kalniņš who is a pastor.[4]


  1. "The ten most important musical works of Latvia's centenary". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. 1 August 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  4. "Mūžībā aizgājusi aktrise Helga Dancberga". (in Latvian). Retrieved 2020-01-08.

Text adapted from Wikipedia