He often drew inspiration from the native songs of the Latgale district in eastern Latvia. His grasp of orchestral color and musical texture were highly regarded by his colleagues. The Latvian composer and music critic, Marģers Zariņš, described Ivanovs' symphonies as "like ancient Greek tragedies, filled with ecstasy and purification." He is mostly remembered for his twenty-one symphonies. Nevertheless, he composed in many other fields, including five symphonic poems, one concerto apiece for piano, violin and cello, three string quartets, and numerous vocal, piano and various chamber works. He became the People's Artist of the USSR in 1965, was awarded the USSR State Prize in 1950 and Latvian SSR State Prize in 1959 and 1970.
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