Talivaldis Kenins

Talivaldis Kenins, composer, professor (b at Liepäja, Latvia 23 April 1919, d at Toronto 20 January 2008).

Talivaldis Kenins, composer, professor (b at Liepäja, Latvia 23 April 1919, d at Toronto 20 January 2008). Having studied piano and composition in France and Latvia, Talivaldis Kenins was a scholarship student at the Conservatoire in Paris from 1945 to 1951, where his teachers included Olivier Messiaen. In 1950 he was the first-prize winner in composition with his Cello Sonata and also received an UNESCO fellowship. That year Hermann Scherchen conducted his Septet at the Darmstadt New Music Festival. Becoming organist of the Latvian Lutheran St Andrews Church, Toronto, in 1951, Kenins began teaching at the University of Toronto the following year. After 32 years of teaching, he was named professor emeritus in 1984. Aiming to combine his natural inclinations to romanticism with the neoclassicism of his French training, Talivaldis Kenins composed works in many of the traditional forms with lyrical, contrapuntal lines, frequent ostinatos that provide rhythmic momentum and often wit. Along with many chamber and choral works, his works for orchestra include eight symphonies (1959-86), twelve concertos, Beatae Voces Tenebrae, which contains quotations of Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, and Fauré, and Scherzo Concertante. His Third Symphony has been declared one of the most interesting of all symphonic works of the 20th century. Edgers Kariks completed a doctoral dissertation, "Beatae Voces Tenebrae", on Kenins's compositions at the University of Adelaide in 1989. In 1995 he was named Officer of the National Three-Star Order of the Republic of Latvia (a national award conferred in recognition of outstanding civil merit in the service of Latvia). In 2000 the premiere of Kenins's Concerto for Viola and Orchestra met with enthusiastic acclaim in North America and Europe. CDs completely devoted to his compositions were released in Latvia and Canada, including his Canadian Composers Portrait in 2003. Canadian musicologist Paul Rapoport has credited Kenins with introducing many European idioms to Canadian symphonic and chamber music in an era when many of its composers remained solidly influenced by British models.

Further Reading

  • Ingrida Zemzare, Talivaldis Kenins: Starp divam pasaelem (1994).