Top 5 Famous People of Latvia
Born in Riga in 1831, tailor Jacob W. Davis, originally named Jаkobs Jufess, emigrated to the USA in 1854. In 1870, he received an order to sew sturdy pants for lumberjacks. Using rivets, the Latvian connected strong fabric with weak areas. The pants made by Jacob W. Davis turned out to be so practical that they became the prototype for iconic jeans worldwide. Two years later, the Latvian tailor, in partnership with Levi Strauss, patented his super-trousers and released them as a mass product.
So, if you're strolling through the streets of enchanting Riga or relaxing on one of the beaches of the Latvian seaside, and you want to enrich your knowledge about Latvian culture and talented people born here, you can take advantage of our tips.
Krisjanis Barons is a renowned Latvian Lithuanian researcher and folklorist. In 1862, he attempted to start a career as an editor for the Petersburg newspaper "Petierburgas avizes." However, the publication was banned by the Russian authorities, and Barons faced persecution, forcing him to leave Petersburg. Upon returning to his homeland, the writer focused on collecting, processing, and systematizing Latvian folk songs called "dainas." From 1894 to 1915, Barons managed to compile a monumental 6-volume collection of "Latvian Songs." His preserved folklore collection is impressive, encompassing over 200,000 samples of folk creativity.
Mikhail Tal is a renowned Latvian chess grandmaster and world chess champion. From childhood, the future champion displayed a love for mathematics and an inclination for analysis. At the age of 10, Tal was already defeating friends in chess, and by thirteen, he was part of the youth team. In 1957, at the age of 21, Tal became the champion of the Soviet Union, a title he would win another 5 times. In 1959, Tal earned the opportunity to play a world championship match against Mikhail Botvinnik. The match between these two chess geniuses took place from March 15 to May 5, 1960, and concluded with the victory of the Latvian grandmaster. Tal became the youngest "chess king" in history, achieving the title of world champion at the age of 23.
Mariss Jansons is a renowned Latvian conductor, the son of the globally respected conductor Arvid Jansons. Even as a child, Jansons learned to play the violin and piano and later took up the art of conducting. In 1969, the talented musician went to Austria to study under the guidance of the best conductors of that time, Hans Swarowsky at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, and Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg. His training bore fruit when Mariss Jansons won the Herbert von Karajan Foundation International Conducting Competition in Berlin in 1971. Eight years later, he began his career as the musical director of the Oslo Philharmonic, where he remained for the next 23 years. In 2004, the talented Latvian became the chief conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, a position he held until 2015.
Kristaps Porzingis is a celebrated Latvian basketball player, a member of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Standing at 7 feet 3 inches tall, Porzingis is one of the tallest active players in the NBA. He made his debut in the league in 2015, scoring 16 points in a match against Milwaukee. On November 21, 2015, in a game against Houston, Porzingis scored 24 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks, becoming the first 20-year-old player since Shaquille O'Neal in the 1992-1993 season to achieve such a statistical line. Porzingis was a star of the New York Knicks, playing as a center and power forward. Currently, the accomplished Latvian player represents the Boston Celtics.
Mark Rothko is a renowned American artist, born in Latvia in the town of Daugavpils. The artist is considered a representative of abstract expressionism and one of the few creators of the so-called "color field painting." Emigrating to the USA due to fears of being drafted into the tsarist army, the Latvian artist became active in painting, exhibiting his artworks. His perspective was considered fresh and innovative. In 2012, Rothko's painting "Orange, Red, Yellow" was sold for a record-breaking $86.9 million at that time.