Janis Kalnins (1904-2000) was born in Estonia of Latvian parents. He learned piano and organ from his father and was considered a child prodigy. He studied composition, conducting, piano, and voice at the Latvian State University and furthered his studies in composition in Austria and Germany. He served as music director and conductor of the Latvian National Theatre, then as conductor of the Latvian National Opera for a total of twenty-one years.
In 1948 he moved to Canada from a displaced persons' facility and became organist and choir director at St. Paul's United Church in Fredericton, New Brunswick, as well as director of the Fredericton Male Chorus, the Fredericton Civic Orchestra and the New Brunswick Symphony. He was also a professor at the New Brunswick Teachers' College. Kalnins composed with facility in all principal forms combining Romantic and modern styles. He left a rich legacy of orchestral, chamber, vocal, and choral works. The names Janis Kalnins and his father, Alfred Kalnins, are revered in their native Latvia.