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Arvo Pärt

September 11, 1935 -
born in Paide, Estonia, composed during the Contemporary period
Arvo Pärt is one of the most important living composers of concert music. His first works, dating from the 1950s, showed the influence of Prokofiev and Shostakovich, as heard in his two Sonatinas for piano (1958). But as his musical studies under Heino Eller continued, he was drawn toward serial techniques and turned out a number of works in the 1960s in this vein. His First Symphony (1961), for instance, displays this method and is dedicated to Eller. By the end of that decade, Pärt had become disenchanted by the 12-tone technique and began writing music in varying styles. In 1976, however, Pärt started composing in what he called his tintinnabulation (or tintinnabuli) method, which involves the prominent use of pure triads. This new style resulted in music so radically different from that which had preceded it, that many observed that it seemed to have come from a different hand altogether.

Unlike most composers of major rank, Pärt did not show remarkable talent in his childhood or even in his early adolescence. His first serious study came in 1954 at the Tallinn Music Middle School, but less than a year later he temporarily abandoned it to fulfill military service, playing oboe and percussion in the army band.

In 1957, Pärt enrolled at the Tallinn Conservatory where he studied under Eller. He graduated in 1963, having worked throughout his student years and afterward as a recording engineer for Estonian Radio. He wrote several film scores and other works during this period, among them his two Sonatinas for piano, from 1958, and Nekrolog, a serial work for orchestra, from 1960. He also wrote a number of choral pieces at this time, among which was the ethereal a cappella effort, Solfeggio (1964). Pärt continued to compose music mainly in the serial vein throughout the 1960s, but received little recognition, since that method of composition was generally anathema throughout the Soviet Union. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Pärt studied the music of Renaissance era composers, particularly that of Machaut, Josquin Desprez, and Obrecht. His Symphony No. 3 reflected these influences in its austere, Medieval sound world.

By the mid-1970s, Pärt was working on an altogether new style of composition. In 1976 he unveiled this method, the aforementioned tintinnabulation, with the piano work, Für Alina. A trio of more popular works followed in 1977, Fratres, for string quintet and wind quintet (later given additional arrangements by the composer), Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten (revised 1980) and Tabula Rasa, for two violins, prepared piano, and string orchestra. Owing to the continued political oppression he found in Estonia, Pärt and his wife and two sons emigrated to the West in 1980, settling first in Vienna, then in West Berlin.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Pärt, a devout member of the Eastern Orthodox Church, wrote a number of large-scale choral religious works, including the St. John Passion (1982), Magnificat (1989), The Beatitudes (1990), and Litany (1994). He has declared a preference for vocal music in his later years, and continues, like the English composer John Tavener, also an adherent of the Eastern Orthodox religion, to write much religious music.

In 1995, Pärt was recognized for his many artistic achievements by being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His 2008 Symphony No. 4 was nominated for a Grammy for Best Comtemporary Classical Composition. He remains among the most popular serious composers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Arvo Part: Da Pacem

Title: Da Pacem Domine, for SATB chorus or soloists
Title: Salve Regina, For Chorus & Organ
Title: Slavic Psalms (2), For Chorus Or Soloists
Title: Magnificat, For Chorus
Title: An Den Wassern Zu Babel Saßen Wir Und Weinten, For SATB Soloists Or Chorus & Organ
Title: Dopo La Vittoria, Little Cantata For Chorus
Title: Nunc Dimittis, For Chorus
Title: Littlemore Tractus, For Chorus & Organ
x

Track List: Arvo Part: De Profundis

Title: De Profundis, for male chorus, percussion & organ
Title: Missa sillabica, for chorus
Title: Solfeggio, for chorus
Title: And One Of The Pharisees, For 3 Voices Or Chorus
Title: Cantate Domino, for SATB chorus or soloists & organ
Title: Summa, For SATB Chorus Or Soloists
Title: Magnificat Antiphones (7), For Chorus
Title: The Beatitudes, for Chorus & Organ
Title: Magnificat, For Chorus
x

Track List: Arvo Part: Pro & Contra / Symphonies 1 + 2

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Track List: Arvo Pärt: Beatus

Title: Statuit Ei Dominus, For 2 Choruses & 2 Organs
Title: Missa sillabica, for chorus
Title: Beatus Petronius, For Double Chorus & 2 Organs
Title: Magnificat Antiphones (7), For Chorus
Title: De Profundis, for male chorus, percussion & organ
Title: Memento, for chorus
Title: Cantate Domino, for SATB chorus or soloists & organ
Title: Solfeggio, for chorus
x

Track List: Best Of Arvo Part

Title: Summa For Choir
Title: Magnificat Antiphones (7), For Chorus
Title: Fratres, for Violin & Piano
Title: Festina Lente, for Strings & Harp Ad Lib
Title: Spiegel Im Spiegel, For Violin & Piano
Title: Magnificat, For Chorus
Title: The Beatitudes, for Chorus & Organ
Title: Summa, For String Orchestra
Title: Fratres, For Strings & Percussion
Title: Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, for String Orchestra & Bell
x

Track List: The Very Best Of Arvo Pärt

Disc 1
Title: Summa For Choir
Title: Magnificat Antiphones (7), For Chorus
Title: Fratres, for Violin & Piano
Title: Festina Lente, for Strings & Harp Ad Lib
Title: Spiegel Im Spiegel, For Violin & Piano
Title: Magnificat, For Chorus
Title: The Beatitudes, for Chorus & Organ
Title: Summa, For String Orchestra
Title: Fratres, For Strings & Percussion
Title: Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, for String Orchestra & Bell
Disc 2
Title: Tabula Rasa, Concerto For 2 Violins (or Violin & Viola), Prepared Piano & String Orchestra
Title: Summa, For String Quartet
Title: Fratres, For String Quartet
Title: De Profundis, for male chorus, percussion & organ
Title: Cantate Domino, for SATB chorus or soloists & organ
Title: Beatus Petronius, For Double Chorus & 2 Organs
Title: Solfeggio, for chorus
Title: Missa Sillabica, For Chorus & Organ

Comments

First time heard the composer after reading about him in S and H. Do like the music. Appreciation of various musical instruments. Jan
Truly music to touch the soul...
lkgrebnel
Never've heard of it before--but I like it.
dsatoris
Fur Lennart Memoriam is a great piece.....
This music leaves me TAPLESS!!! :-)
( see username above)
dsatoris
Beautiful... . S p i r i t u a l l y uplifting!
Pretty music here. I want to find out how I can become a minimalist composer now. I am finding out more and more I just absolutely love this music. :)
dbudjevac
Thank you Mr. Part for your music!
tdjackson6
This is INCREDIBLE. Very talented composer here on this In Principio. How did I miss this guy?
Don't be a music snob. Great music is in the ear of the beholder.
jwcaitlan
The comments below in large part are some the silliest reactions to serious music I've ever come across. Listen closer, folks; it's more than just pretty sounds.
wow-ah how did I miss Mr Part all these years truly innovative compositions that are easy to comprehend yet fresh
the music of Part carried me through a very difficult period in my life. it was an amplificatio n of the Divine,the literal voice of angels. this is the higher purpose of art.
wow! When I was listening to Fur Lennart in Memoriam, I could just imagine it being played in a huge cathedral...
randallmckay
this is be some good stuff
tireboyaux
Arvo Part is indeed a breath of fresh air in our complicated world. Also consider listening to Henryk Gorecki and Johan Johanssen. A clear, focused, calm and inspired heart/head is our birthright.
I fell in love with this piece the first time I heard it a few months ago. :) BEAUTIFUL.
One of the great composers of the 20th century. Scratch that, any century.
kevin832
Will have to say that Part is perhaps the most incredible modern composer, tough to say among others like glass, but his range and the sound & imagery he has created are modern, massive, impending, important, stunning, monumental and critical for anyone interested in modern symphonic. Unreal. Unreal.
sarasvatia
Evokes the picture of a glass bowl of clear cool water. Beautiful.
snake4567
Thanks, Pandora, for introducing me to this composer.
I discovered his music quite by accident about 15 years ago and have loved it ever since. A genius at expressing the depth of emotion with such a simple palatte - any superlatives are inadequate.
mbase313
Absolutely beautiful; it has moved me to tears.
thomaspratt0 1
I'm not a huge fan of classical music. Even so, I can't help but love the honest genius behind this music. It's truly wonderful.
woW.. my mind haS relaxed..
j_e_landau
All these comments are right on the mark. This music just stops me in my tracks.
It is like having your heart wrung out.
I love this man's music; his vision, his faith, his quiet genius.
Always stuns me.
From what little I know about Arvo Part and his background, coming from Estonia, when I listen this I imagine someone coming out of a culture where there has been great struggling and suffering with a signficant spiritual heritage, (Orthodox Christian? Jewish?)
crewcoachjd
Have always like Part. I had not heard this piece with piano and violin. Very contemplativ e - - a nice contrast to the audio assault in much music.
James Brown makes me want to line cook. Arvo Part makes me want to bake bread and make cheese.
karenobrienr e
thanks for being in the background as I create-paint .
how simple and beautiful
simplicity seems so RARE
Thank you Mr. Part for your wonderful gift!
Part is on record as saying something like this, "Some composers write in color. My music is a blazing white light; it is the spirit of the listener in which that music is refracted."
Incredible emotional depth.
Arvo Part is as close to Bach as modern composer can be - and Bach is THE COMPOSER of all times. While a lot of modern classical compositions are mere exercise in technique and complexity, Part's music is unparallel in depth and emotional engagement. I can never have enough of his music. He has also proved himself as a true citizen while living in Soviet Estonia and defying Soviet authorities with his music, professional associations and personal friendships.
Everything is cyclic -- the return to tonalism in 21st c. music is so refreshing.
mikesmirl
Takes me to where I want to be.
t.arik
Excellent, Dennis...I have been a listener of his for years...I created an Arvo Part channel which is the one I listen to the most. He is from Estonia...go there, and read its history...on l y 1.3 million, to join EU Jan 1 2011...artic l e in today's NY Times Food section about its foods...all remarkable.. . o c c u p i e d by the Germans then the Russinas and again the Germans in WWII...that tragedy is in every Part note...
dgay85
wow. today i discover'd Arvo Part. life will never be the same
Many/Most of the elements of these choral comps are excellent, but what I REALLY like best is the, ahem...

Arvo Pärt !!

Cool Pop
Very moving piece. Lovely!
jessica.piat t 2
very deep and enchanting
I have the ocumentary of Arvo part and he is a genuine soul seeker
Momento for Chorus...stu n n i n g interpretati o n of the Renaissance musical form...gotta get this album (Beatus ?) Hildegard of Bingen would have been impressed... . .
mayajanson
stir the soul!
trevorjh1
excellent! haunting, thought provoking, soul-stirrin g music.
Frates for Strings and percussion: How some secular music seems to evoque the sacred!
Long, lovely phrases of meditative simplicity. The sadness and romanticism are intense. I only recently discovered this composer but hope to collect his works on CD. It sounds as though he feeds on musical discipline, I must find some things to read about him.
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