The variety of Raimonds PAULS’S oeuvre is beyond compare. Each decade, he draws from a new palette of sound, his sources of influence encompassing Latin American rhythms, passionate jazz, progressive rock, Russian romances, French chansons, German schlagers, and popular music, which he has played in countless bars and parties, earning him ample experience as a performer. Pauls is an unsurpassed writer of melodies; his pianist’s gifts are unmatched.
Having finished Emīls Dārziņš Music School, Pauls earned a concert pianist’s diploma from Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music (JVLMA). His exam performance was so brilliant that he was offered a spot for further academic studies in Moscow, but he was already committed to the firm hold of popular music. In later interviews he would often lament his giving up of a solo pianist’s career. Pauls would record several albums performing with the symphony orchestra, just like tonight, like in memories of his study years and other bygone times.
Pauls studied with brilliant pianist and accompanist Hermanis Brauns, and he was a keen learner of new works. Together with his fellow students Rida Talāne and Oleg Barskov, they would study works by Prokofiev and Shostakovich, which were a novelty at the time. Pauls also learned a lot from composer and pianist Jānis Ķepītis who taught chamber music.
Pauls names Rachmaninoff and Debussy as his greatest idols of all time, and he has always liked Bach and Mozart. Notably, in 1963, Pauls had the honour to perform the solo in the premiere of Piano Concerto by Romualds Grīnblats, Latvian modernist composer of the 60s and 70s.
When asked about jazz, Pauls will express his keen admiration of Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, and Art Tatum and recount hunting monochrome recordings of old jazz performances on the MEZZO channel. The maestro recalls how jazz music and musicals would even be recorded on x-rays – it would seem impossible nowadays. There was only one way to discover the secrets of jazz: to listen, borrow, embrace its influence and turn it into personal formulas for later use when Pauls would perform with his partners Haralds Brando and Aivars Timša and with the sextet REO, the precursor to the Latvian Radio Big Band. In the early 60s, Pauls studied composition with Jānis Ivanovs at the JVLMA, and Ivanovs was very supportive towards the young talented man whose creativity would manifest in rather unorthodox ways.