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Famous Latvians

The people of Latvia are willing to learn, are creative and talented. Many of them have reached successes on a worldwide level, and Latvia is proud of these people.

The name of our country has been spoken all around the world - in the most famous of opera houses, at the Olympics, and also at significant political events, and all thanks to our great personalities. Come and discover the country that has inspired so many!

Latvian Musicians

  • Vestards Simkus (Vestards Šimkus) - award winning pianist and composer inspired by his home town of Jurmala, a resort town on the Baltic Sea coast;
  • Gidon Kremer (Gidons Krēmers) - one of the most famous Latvian and German violinists, conductor and the founder and manager of the Baltic Youth Chamber Orchestra, Kremerata Baltica, who took up his violin studies in Riga;
  • Peteris Vasks (Pēteris Vasks) - one of Europe’s greatest composers of academic music in the second half of the twentieth century;
  • Raumonds Pauls - composer, pianist, arranger, conductor, producer and resident of Riga, author of over eighty recordings including songs and instrumental music;
  • Prata Vetra (Prāta Vētra) - the rock and pop music band also known as Brainstorm was formed in Jelgava, a  town on the banks of two rivers with a famous Baroque palace;
  • Instrumenti - an indie pop and experimental electronic music band  which is a frequent guest at European music festivals;
  • Maija Kovalevska (Maija Kovaļevska), Aleksandrs Antonenko (Aleksandrs Antoņenko), Elina Garanca (Elīna Garanča), Kristine Opolais (Kristīne Opolais), and Egils Silins (Egils Siliņš) - opera singers. 

Latvian Athletes

Strength, discipline, and determination have borne remarkable results for Latvian athletes.

  • Maris Strombergs (Māris Štrombergs) - the only Olympic men’s BMX two-time champion. His home town is the charming Valmiera on the banks of the River Gauja;
  • Janis Dalins (Jānis Daliņš) (1904-1978) - walker - the first Olympic medallist in the history of independent Latvia. An entire stadium has been dedicated to him in Valmiera!
  • Uljana Semjonova (Uļjana Semjonova) - basketball player, her name is mentioned in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame;
  • Arturs Irbe (Artūrs Irbe), Sandis Ozolins (Sandis Ozoliņš), and Zemgus Girgensons - national ice hockey team players;
  • Ernests Gulbis - tennis player who has played with tennis stars such as Djokovic and Federer;
  • Martins and Tomass Dukurs - brother skeleton athletes, Olympic medallists who come from the capital of Latvian luge sports - Sigulda.

Historical Figures

Latvian history features the following names:

  • Arvids Blumentals (Arvīds Blūmentāls) - prototype of the famous Crocodile Dundee. From his home town, small Dundaga parish in the north of the Kurzeme region, his life took him to Australia on a crocodile hunt;
  • Mark Rothko - world renowned painter, pioneer of abstract expressionism and colour field painting. His home town of Daugavpils hosts a museum that contains an exhibit of his original work;
  • Richard Wagner (Rihards Vāgners) - German composer with a concert hall in Riga named after him;
  • Sergejs Eizensteins (Sergejs Eizenšteins) - famous film director born in Riga. His work is ranked fairly high in the top hundred films of all time;
  • Mihails Tals (Mihails Tāls) - Latvian chess player, the 8th World Chess Champion.

Latvian Scientists

  • Aina Muceniece - inventor of anticancer treatment and the founder of virotherapy;
  • Janis Stradins (Jānis Stradiņš) - son of the famous surgeon Pauls Stradins, he dedicated himself to the study of physical chemistry.

Latvian Politicians

A true Latvian hero on the political stage is the former president of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga (Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga), during whose term of office Latvia joined the EU and NATO. Also the Latvian politician, Valdis Dombrovskis, former prime minister of Latvia and member of the European Parliament since 2014.

 

Last updated: 
08.12.2014