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Encyclopedia > Arvo Pärt

Arvo Pärt (born 11 September 1935) is an Estonian composer, often identified with the school of minimalism. He is best known for his choral works. September 11 is the 254th day of the year (255th in leap years). ... 1935 was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is stripped down to its most fundamental features. ... This article is about choirs, musical ensembles containing singers. ...



Pärt's musical education began at age 7, and by 14 or 15 he was writing his own compositions. While studying composition (with teacher Heino Eller) at the Tallinn Conservatory it was said of him that: "he just seemed to shake his sleeves and notes would fall out". There were very few influences from outside the Soviet Union at this time, just a few illegal tapes and scores. Heino Eller (7 March 1887 - 16 June 1970) was an Estonian composer and composition teacher. ...

Arvo Pärt

Although at the time of Pärt's birth Estonia was a nascent independent republic, the Soviet Union took control of it in 1940 as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and the country remained part of the Soviet Union (except for a brief period under the Nazis), for the next 54 years. Download high resolution version (533x827, 66 KB)Fair use - its a press image from [1]. I think that using a press photo of Arvo Pärt in the article about him falls under fair use. ... Download high resolution version (533x827, 66 KB)Fair use - its a press image from [1]. I think that using a press photo of Arvo Pärt in the article about him falls under fair use. ... 1940 was a leap year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... Molotov (lower left), Ribbentrop (in black) and Stalin (far right) The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, also known as the Hitler-Stalin pact or Nazi-Soviet pact and formally known as the Treaty of Nonaggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a non-aggression treaty between the German... The Nazi party used a right-facing swastika as their symbol and the red and black colors were said to represent Blut und Boden (blood and soil). ...

Pärt's oeuvre is generally divided into two periods. His early works range from rather severe neo-classical styles influences by Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Bartók. He then began to compose using Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique and serialism. This, however, not only earned the ire of the Soviet establishment, but also proved to be a creative dead end. Pärt's biographer, Paul Hillier, says: Neoclassicism in music was instigated by Igor Stravinsky, according to himself, but attributed by others to composers including Ferruccio Busoni (who wrote Junge Klassizität or New Classicality in 1920), Sergei Prokofiev, Maurice Ravel, and others. ... Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich (Russian Дмитрий Дмитриевич Шостакович) (September 25, 1906 – August 9, 1975) was a Russian composer of the Soviet period. ... Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (Серге́й Серге́евич Проко́фьев) (April 271, 1891 – March 5, 1953) was one of the Soviet Unions greatest composers. ... Béla Viktor János Bartók (March 25, 1881 – September 26, 1945) was a composer, pianist and collector of East European folk music. ... Arnold Schoenberg, Los Angeles, 1948 For the American music critic and journalist, see Harold Charles Schonberg. ... Twelve-tone technique (also dodecaphony) is a system of musical composition devised by Arnold Schoenberg. ... Serialism is a rubric applied to diverse systems of composing music in which various elements of a piece are ordered according to a pre-determined set or sets of musical pitches (sometimes called rows), and variations on them. ...

"... he had reached a position of complete despair in which the composition of music appeared to be the most futile of gestures, and he lacked the musical faith and will-power to write even a single note"

This may be an overstatement since the transitional third symphony was composed during this time. However, it is clear that Pärt experienced a deep personal crisis. His response to this impasse was to immerse himself in early music - to go, in effect, back to the roots of western music. He studied plainsong, Gregorian chant, and the emergence of polyphony in the Renaissance. At the same time he began to explore religion and joined the Russian Orthodox Church, perhaps indicating that his crisis was partly spiritual in nature, rather than exclusively musical. Broadly speaking, plainsong is the name given to the body of traditional songs used in the liturgies of the Catholic Church. ... Gregorian chant is also known as plainchant or plainsong, and is a form of monophonic, unaccompanied singing, which was developed in the Catholic church, mainly during the period 800-1000. ... Polyphony is a musical texture consisting of several independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony). ... By Region: Italian Renaissance Northern Renaissance -French Renaissance -German Renaissance -English Renaissance The Renaissance was an influential cultural movement which brought about a period of scientific revolution and artistic transformation, at the dawn of modern European history. ... Saint Basils Cathedral, a well-known Russian Orthodox church situated in Moscow The Russian Orthodox Church (Русская Православная церковь) is that body of Christians who are united under the Patriarch of Moscow, who in turn is in communion with the other patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Church. ...

The music that began to emerge after this period was radically different. Pärt describes it as tintinnabular - like the ringing of bells. The music is characterised by simple harmonies, often single unadorned notes, or triad chords which form the basis of western harmony. These are reminiscent of ringing bells, hence the name. The Tintinnabuli are rhythmically simple, and do not change tempo. The influence of early music is clear. Another characteristic of Pärt's later works is that they are frequently settings for sacred texts, although he mostly chooses Latin or the Church Slavonic language used in Orthodox liturgy instead of his native Estonian language. Harmony is the use and study of pitch simultaneity and chords, actual or implied, in music. ... In music and music theory, a chord (from the middle English cord, short for accord) is three or more different notes or pitches sounding simultaneously, or nearly simultaneously, over a period of time. ... Latin is the language originally spoken in the region around Rome called Latium. ... The Church Slavonic language (ru: церковнославя́нский язы́к, tserkovnoslavyánskiy yazík) is the liturgical language of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church, Serbian Orthodox Church and other Slavic Orthodox Churches. ... The Estonian language (eesti keel) is spoken by about 1. ...

It is for these latter works that Pärt is best known, and he is unusual for a modern composer in that he is very popular in his own lifetime.

Pärt has said that his music is similar to light going through a prism: the music may have a slightly different meaning for each listener, thus creating a spectrum of musical experience, similar to the rainbow of light. Wikibooks Wikiversity has more about this subject: School of Music Look up Music in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Wikicities has a wiki about Music: Music Music City : a collaborative music database All Music Guide: includes a comprehensive and flexible Genre and Style system MusicWiki: A Collaborative Music-related encyclopedia Science... Prism splitting light Light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength that is visible to the eye, or in a more general sense, any electromagnetic radiation in the range from infrared to ultraviolet. ... Prism splitting light In optics, a prism is a device used to refract light, reflect it or break it up (to disperse it) into its constituent spectral colors (colors of the rainbow), traditionally built in the shape of a right prism with triangular base. ... A rainbow arches over the gardens at the Canada pavilion at Epcot in Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, United States. ...

His music has been used in over 50 films, from "Vaike motoroller" (1962) to "Promised Land" (2004). The "Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten" was used in Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" while showing the war dead of the Iraq invasion. "Spiegel im Spiegel" was prominently used in Mike Nichols' "Wit". Michael Moore with his Oscar award after Bowling for Columbine won the 2003 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. ... Fahrenheit 9/11 is a high-grossing, award-winning documentary film by American filmmaker Michael Moore, which had a general release in the United States and Canada on June 25, 2004. ... Mike Nichols (born Michael Igor Peschkowsky) is an Academy Award winning movie director. ...

Well-known Works

Works for Voices

  • Passio (1982)
  • Miserere (1989)
  • Magnificat (1989)
  • Te Deum for chorus, string orchestra and tape (1984-5, rev 1992)
  • Berlin Mass for chorus and organ or string orchestra (1992)
  • Litany (1994)
  • Kanon Pokajanen (1996)
  • Como cierva sedienta for soprano, chorus and orchestra (1998)
  • Nunc Dimittis (2001)
  • In Principio for chorus and orchestra (2003)
  • L'Abbé Agathon for soprano, four violas and four celli (2004)

Instrumental Works

  • Symphony No.3 (1971)
  • Für Alina for piano (1976)
  • Fratres (1976 and on, many versions)
  • Arbos (1977, 1986)
  • Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten for string orchestra and bell (1977)
  • Tabula Rasa, Double Concerto for two violins, string orchestra and prepared piano (1977)
  • Spiegel Im Spiegel for violin or cello and piano (1978)
  • Festina Lente for string orchestra and harp (1988)
  • Silouans Song for string orchestra (1991)
  • Trisagion for string orchestra (1992)
  • Orient Occident for string orchestra (2000)
  • Lamentate for piano and orchestra (2002)
  • Passacaglia for violin and piano (2003)

Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten (1977) is a composition by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, written to mourn the death of English composer Benjamin Britten on December 4, 1976. ... Tabula rasa (Latin: scraped tablet, though often translated blank slate) is the notion that individual human beings are born blank (with no built-in mental content), and that their identity is defined entirely by events after birth. ... Spiegel im Spiegel is a piece of music written by Arvo Pärt in 1978, just prior to him leaving Estonia. ...

Printed Sources

  • Hillier, Paul. Arvo Pärt. (Oxford : University Press, 1997). ISBN 0198166168

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations by or about:
Arvo Pärt
  • Arvo Pärt (http://www.musicolog.com/part_lenten.asp) — extensive site
  • arvopart.info (http://www.arvopart.info/) — another comprehensive site with current news
  • David Pinkerton's Arvo Pärt archive (http://www.arvopart.org/) — yet another extensive site, with some good analytical writing.
  • Arvo Pärt and the New Simplicity (http://www.saintpaulsunday.org/features/9810_part/index.htm) — text of a radio interview from October 11, 1998
  • Pärt's page at Universal Editions (http://www.uemusic.at/truman/en_templates/view.php3?f_id=996&spr=en) — purchase scores and find out about performances of Part's music worldwide
  • "Allclassical"-entry, including a list of his opuses (http://www.allclassical.com/cg/acg.dll?p=acg&sql=1:5051)



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