Welcome to the University of Washington Baltic Choral Music Collection. This collection of scores, manuscripts and texts is the first of its kind in the United States and is provided in hopes of creating greater access for American choral musicians to the wealth of these musical traditions. The collection is housed in the University of Washington Music Library. Browse the Baltic Choral Music database here.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Baltic region has become one of the most exciting new resources for choral musicians. The cultural heritage of singing in the region is millenia old and serves an important function as the entire history of the region in encoded in song. Furthermore, during the tragic times of the Soviet occupation, their culture, heritage, and even battle for independence were expressed through choral singing. Group singing is, per capita, perhaps more popular in this region than anywhere in the world. Stadiums are filled with choirs 30,000 strong singing together to audiences numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
Despite its growing popularity in the United States and its cultural importance, the vast majority of this repertoire remains unknown and inaccessible to American choral scholars. The region has been fraught with economic hardship in the post-Soviet era, and attempts to rebuild libraries and collections have been difficult. The Soviet regime attempted to destroy cultural heritage, publication was severely restricted and much repertoire and early publications was destroyed. In recent years, there has been little resources to fund new publications, and libraries have little money to rebuild collections.
The University of Washington is proud to have the only Baltic Studies program in the United States which teaches all three Baltic languages. This relationship between our institution and the Baltic countries, along with our outstanding choral program, makes the University of Washington a natural palce to house such a library.
A generous grant by the University of Washington Royalty Research Foundation allowed Guntis Smidchens, a professor in Baltic Studies, and myself to travel to the Baltic to collect this repertoire and to build relationships with the main state and academic libraries in the region. Most have agreed to begin to share copies over time of recovered historic documents. The Music Library also obtained funds from the Kenneth S. Allen Library Endowment to purchase material for the collection. In time this will become a significant collection, both in terms of historical importance of documenting an important choral tradition, but also to provide a place for you to discover, study, edit and perform this treasured body of music.
Dr. Geoffrey Boers