Jay Nordlinger at The New Criterion:
The Baltics are bursting with musicians, as we in the West discovered when the Soviet Union collapsed. In fact, the region’s independence movement was dubbed “the Singing Revolution.” (For a piece I wrote about this in 2011, go here.)
The first head of state in a free Lithuania was a professor of music—Vytautas Landsbergis. I once discussed him with a prominent Lithuanian singer, Violeta Urmana, the soprano (who began her career as a mezzo).
Latvians? Outstandingly, there is the conductor Mariss Jansons—son of another conductor, Arvids Jansons. The junior Jansons was born in the Riga ghetto in 1943. His mother was in hiding. Her father and brother had already been killed by the Gestapo.
Today, the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is Andris Nelsons. His wife is a soprano, Kristine Opolais. One of the opera world’s biggest stars is Elina Garanca, the mezzo.