Composers > Georgs Pelēcis

Georgs Pelēcis

"They write music for two reasons: to speak to the listener intellectually, or also for the sake of music itself. Dearer to me is the second. All of my creative inspiration comes from music, from euphony that acts as an ideal reflection or embodiment of a homeland. Aspiring for this ideal is the most important theme in my work."

Georgs Pelēcis


Georgs Pelēcis is one of the most knowledgeable of musical scholars in Latvia, especially in the fields of history and theory of counterpoint.

The composer was born on June 18th, 1947 in Riga. He graduated the Piotr Tchaikovsky State Conservatory in Moscow in Aram Khachaturjan`s composition class in 1970, and in 1977 he finished the music theory post-graduate course with Vladimir Protopopov. As of 1970, he has been a lecturer in the Music Theory Department at the then Latvian State Conservatory, now the Latvian Academy of Music. In 1990 he was elected to the stature of a professor. His main disciplines are counterpoint and fugue.

Georgs Pelēcis’s work in the field of musicology is noteworthy. In 1981, he defended his science of art candidate (now doctorate of art) dissertation The Musical Forms of Jean de Ockeghem and the Traditions of the Netherlands Polyphonic School. In the specific sphere of polyphony he has been involved in more than 30 scientific works – both in Western European (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque) and Latvian music history – papers, presentations at international conferences in Riga, Moscow and Rome. His other major scientific research paper Palestrina’s Principles of Polyphony and Traditions of the Vocal Polyphonic Era (Dr. habil. art, 1990) is held in high regard in the world and was recognized with a medal at the International Palestrina Centre in Rome, Italy in 1993. Georgs Pelēcis was the first president of the Ancient Music Centre of Riga. The composer has worked in a creative capacity at Oxford (1995, Corpus Christi College) and Cambridge (1997, Gonville and Caius College) Universities. Pelēcis has also received compositional commissions from the United Kingdom. His symphonic music for the Roald Dahl story Jack and the Beanstalk was performed in the Royal Albert Hall in London. His works have been performed at the Al`ternativa festival in Moscow, and at the Lockenhaus festival in Austria. One of his works, the concerto Tomēr (Nevertheless), has received choreographic attention in recent years. The ballet troupe Dance Alloy performed to the music of the concerto in its entirety in a performance in Pittsburgh, USA in 2000 under the direction of choreographer Mark Taylor.

The musical tonality of Georgs Pelēcis seems to reverberate some amazingly clear positive spirit. This very quality, whose genetic ancestry can be found partly in Renaissance and Baroque music and partly in the minimalist aesthetic, brings a spiritual strength to the composer’s creative output and brings to Latvian music a previously unknown, freshly breathing and pulsating activity. From all the style classifications which the composer himself and musical critics have given to his works, the most precise would be new consonant music, where euphony is the harmonic ideal. The composer as a personality and a creator distances himself from the drama and the duality of the soul. His music has nothing in common with stylization, although it reveals a deeply understood knowledge of the music of past cultures. Georgs Pelēcis’s musical path became clear at the very beginning, in the 70s, when similar creative tools (both the goal of creating new works and the musical lexicon) amongst Latvian composers, at the time including the new generation, were not standard and needed honest defenses of the criteria of creative output.


Nevertheless (Tomēr) / Gidon Kremer, violin, Vadim Sakharov, piano and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie of Bremen – 27′ 54″ // From My Home – 1997 TELDEC CLASSICS 0630-14654-2

Concertino bianco in C / Alexei Ljubimov, piano, and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie of Bremen, Conductor Heinrich Schiff – 13′ 31″ // Mosaic – 1996 Erato 0630-12709-2

Second Suite (Otrā svīta) / Sergio Mascara , piano // Nuova musica consonante – S. I. A. E SSCD 003

Quatrieme Suite (Ceturtā svīta) / Mireille Gleizes, piano – 12′ 00″ // Sit Down And Listen – 1993 AVK 001

Neujahrsmusik (New Year’s Music) / 1) Alexei Ljubimov, piano – 14′ 11″ // Porquoi je suis sentimental – BIS CD-702; 2) Anton Batagov, piano – 13′ 30″ // Yesterday – CDLA 9809

Meeting with a Friend (Tikšanās ar draugu) for violin and string orchestra / Gidon Kremer, violin, the orchestra Kremerata Baltica – 10’16” // Kremerland – 2004, Deutsche Grammophon, 00289 474 8012

Ziemassvētku dziedājums (Christmas Canto) for women’s voices and instrumental ensemble / Vocal group Putni, chamber orchestra, conductor Normunds Dreģis – 15’12” // Ekumēniskie Ziemassvētki / Ecumenic Christmas – 2008, Herman Braun Foundation, HBF 005


(The majority are in Russian. The works are at the Library of the Latvian Academy of Music, with author’s copyright – manuscripts, typed; papers with a methodological content are noted with an asterisk *)

(The year of defense is noted)

Formoobrazovanije v muzyke Okegema i tradicii Niderlandskoj polifoničeskoj školy (The Musical Forms of Jean de Ockeghem and the Traditions of the Netherlands Polyphonic School). – Moscow: MGK im. P. Tchaikovskogo, 1981; author’s summary: LMA / Latvian Academy of Music, 1978, 35 pages. On the basis of research – the paper Nekotorye osobennosti formoobrazovanija v messah Okegema (Some Features of the Musical Form in J.Ockeghem’s Masses) // Problemy muzikoznanija, 4. – Moscow: MGK im. P. Tchaikovskogo, 1976, pp. 72–86

Principy polifonii Palestriny i tradicii epohi vokal’nogo mnogogolosija (Palestrina’s Principles of Polyphony and Traditions of the Vocal Polyphonic Era). – Moscow: Vsesojuznyj naučno-issledovatel`skij institut iskusstvoznanija (All Union Institute of Scientific Research in Art Sciences), 1990. In 2 parts: 1st part – 360 pages, 2nd part – 87 pages

Middle Ages

Strojenije kvadruplej Perotina (Perotin’s Quadruplum`s structure) // Voprosy muzykal`noj formy, 4. Editor V. Protopopov. – Moscow: Muzyka, 1985, pp. 151–188

* Obrazcy zapadnojevropejskogo rannego mnogogolosija v kurse analiza muzykal`nyh proizvedenij (Western Europe’s Early Polyphonic Examples in the Course of Musical Work Analysis). – Riga: MtK/ Methodological Cabinet of the Ministry of Culture, 1986, 90 pages

Viduslaiku mūzikas formveide. Motete (Form and Structure of Music in the Middle Ages. Motet) .– Riga: LMA/ Latvian Academy of Music, Part I – 1994, 26 pages, Part II – 1995, pp. 27–53


* Obzor tematičeskih, vremjaizmeritel`nyh i akcentnyh osobennostjej ritma v horovom mnogogolosii XV-XVI vekov (Review of Thematic, Tempo-Metrical and Accent Characteristics of Rhythm in 15th-16th Century Choir Polyphony). – Riga: MtK/ Methodological Cabinet of the Ministry of Culture, 1985, 59 pages

K voprosu o tehnike sočinenija na cantus firmus (On the Question about the Compositional Technique of The Mass Malheur me bat by Josquin Després’s) // Teoretičeskije nabludenija nad istorijej muzykiv (Theoretical Observations about Musical History). – Moscow: Muzyka, 1978, pp. 54–77

A Study of Palestrina Style. – Roma: International Palestrina Centre, 1993, 265 pages

Principy kompoziciji kanoničeskih mess Palestriny (Composition Principles of Palestrina’s Canonical Masses). – Moscow: MGK im. P. Tchaikovskogo, 1983, 33 pages

O formoobrazovaniji v horovoj muzyke XV veka na primere nekotoryh mess L’homme armé (Form Problems in 15th Century Choir Music, on the Basis of Selected Masses L’homme armé). – Riga: LVK/ Latvian State Conservatory, 1979, 73 (146) pages

Johann Sebastian Bach

Strojenije dvuhgolosnyh invencij Baha (Bach’s Two-Part Invention Structure). – Riga: MtK/ Methodological Cabinet of the Ministry of Culture, 1982, 129 pages

Fūga Baha vokāli instrumentālajos darbos (The Fugue in the Vocal Instrumental Works of Bach). – Manuscript, 1997

Baltic Music

Nekotoryje voprosy instrumentovki v rannih proizvedenijah Janisa Ivanova (na primere ego Poemy-Simfoniji) (A Few Instrumentation Questions in the Early Works of Jānis Ivanovs). – Riga: LVK/ Latvian State Conservatory, 1971, 45 pages

Voprosy instrumentovki v Četvertoj simfoniji (Atlantida) Janisa Ivanova (Instrumentation Questions in the Fourth Symphony ‘Atlantīda’ by Jānis Ivanovs). – Riga: LVK/ Latvian State Conservatory, 1972, 25 pages

Dramaturgija i instrumentovka Pjatoj simfoniji Janisa Ivanova (The Dramaturgy and Instrumentation of Jānis Ivanovs’s Fifth Symphony). – Riga: LVK/ Latvian State Conservatory, 1973, 37 pages

Polifonija Jāņa Ivanova klaviermūzikā (Polyphony in the Piano Music of Jānis Ivanovs) .– Riga: LVK/ Latvian State Conservatory, 1986, 16 pages

Mūzikas forma Jāzepa Vītola kora dziesmās (Music Form in the Choir Songs of Jāzeps Vītols). – Riga: LVK/ Latvian State Conservatory, 1987, 38 pages

Perioda forma Jāzepa Vītola kora dziesmās // (Form of the Period in the Choir Songs of Jāzeps Vītols) // Brīnišķais spēks (Miraculous Strength). Collection in remembrance of Jāzeps Vītols’s 130th birthday. Compiled by the Department of Music Theory. – Riga: LVK/ Latvian State Conservatory, 1988, pp. 26–47

Polifonijas meistars – novators Jēkabs Graubiņš (Polyphonic Master – Innovator Jēkabs Graubiņš .– Riga: LVK/ Latvian State Conservatory, 1986, 12 pages. Also in the collection: Jēkaba Graubiņa radošā mantojuma nozīme mūsdienās (The Significance Today of Jēkabs Graubiņš’s Creative Legacy). Compiled by Ilma Grauzdiņa. – Riga: MtK/ Methodological Cabinet of the Ministry of Culture, 1989, pp. 31–46

Jāņa Mediņa Dainas (Jānis Mediņš’s Dainas). – Manuscript, 1990

Kontrapunkts Tālivalža Ķeniņa darbos (Counterpoint in the Work of Tālivaldis Ķeniņš). – Manuscript, 1990

Algoritmu veidošana Arvo Perta skaņdarbā Tabula Rasa (The Formation of Algorithms in the Arvo Pärt work Tabula Rasa). – Manuscript, 1999

Methodological Writings

80 kanoni (80 Canons) (for solfeggio polyphony course). – Riga: MtK/ Methodological Cabinet of the Ministry of Culture, 1981


Zemzare, I. Jauno komponistu koncertā (At the Young Composers’ Concert) [about the works of Georgs Pelēcis, Aivars Kalējs, Astrīda Semaško-Kreicmane, Mārtiņš Brauns] // Literatūra un Māksla, 1978, July 7th • Ašme, L. Ne tikai kārts puķzirnītim (Not Just a Pole for the Sweet Peas) [about the concert of works by composers Georgs Pelēcis, Ungars Savickis and Selga Mence] // Padomju Jaunatne, 1983, January 18th • Riekstiņa, M. Komponistu savienībā (Union of Composers) [About Georgs Pelēcis’s creative record] // Literatūra un Māksla, 1985, March 15th • Pupa, G. Patiesīgums kā kritērijs (Veracity as a Criteria) [about Georgs Pelēcis’s first author’s concert] // Literatūra un Māksla, 1985, April 5th • Zemzaris, I. Ģimenes mūzika (Family Music) [about the works of Georgs Pelēcis, Pēteris Vasks, Pauls Dambis and Juris Karlsons] // Literatūra un Māksla, 1986, August 29th • Rozentāle, I. Skaistais, ideālais un cēlais – lūk, kopsaucēji mūzikā… (The Beautiful, the Ideal, and the Sublime – Behold, the Common Denominators in Music...) [interview] // Mūzikas Saule, 2001, No. 5 (July), pp. 4-7 • Lūsiņa, I. Māksla palikt paradīzē (The Art of Staying in Paradise) // Diena, 2001, December 20th • Zveja, I. Jaunā konsonanse (New Consonance) [interview] // Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze, 2001, December 22nd • Lūsiņa, I. Kā klausīties Pelēci? (How to Listen to Pelēcis?) // Diena, 2001, December 29th • Liepiņa, I. Ziemassvētkos par universālo (About the Universal at Christmas) // Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze, 2001, December 29th • Kudiņš, J. Daži atceres vērti mirkļi (Some Recollections of Worthy Moments) // Literatūra un Māksla Latvijā, 2002, January 10th • Beinaroviča, B. Vientulības apzīmogotie (Marked by Loneliness) // Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze, 2002, September 30th

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