Arvo Pärt is an Estonian classical composer and one of the most prominent living composers of sacred music. One of the rare few of the genre that has gained a popular audience. He is incredibly prolific, his catalogue of exceptional work is immense and continues to grow. I am a fan of sacred music, especially Gregorian Chant – but not knowledgeable. It is daunting to approach any vast genre without guidance, so much material to explore! How fantastic to find modern inspiration infused with an archane style, or visa versa, either way. Avro Pärt provides an easy path to an incredible body of marvelous work.
Arvo Pärt, born 11 September 1935, is an Estonian classical composer and composer of sacred music. Since the late 1970s, Pärt has worked in a minimalist style that employs his self-invented compositional technique, tintinnabuli. His music also takes inspiration from Gregorian chant. He is often associated with the New Simplicity movement. See: extensive but incomplete list of works. -From Wikipedia
Arvo Pärt was born in 1935 in Paide, Estonia. After studies with Heino Eller’s composition class in Tallinn, he worked from 1958 to 1967 as a sound engineer for Estonian Radio. In 1980 he emigrated with his family to Vienna and then, one year later, travelled on a DAAD scholarship to Berlin.
As one of the most radical representatives of the so-called ‘Soviet Avant-garde’, Pärt’s work passed through a profound evolutionary process. His first creative period began with neo-classical piano music. Then followed ten years in which he made his own individual use of the most important compositional techniques of the avant-garde: dodecaphony, composition with sound masses, aleatoricism, collage technique. Nekrolog (1960), the first piece of dodecaphonic music written in Estonia, and Perpetuum mobile (1963) gained the composer his first recognition by the West. In his collage works ‘avant-garde’ and ‘early’ music confront each other boldly and irreconcilably, a confrontation which attains its most extreme expression in his last collage piece Credo (1968). But by this time all the compositional devices Pärt had employed to date had lost all their former fascination and begun to seem pointless to him. The search for his own voice drove him into a withdrawal from creative work lasting nearly eight years, during which he engaged with the study of Gregorian Chant, the Notre Dame school and classical vocal polyphony.
In 1976 music emerged from this silence – the little piano piece Für Alina. It is obvious that with this work Pärt had discovered his own path. The new compositional principle used here for the first time, which he called tintinnabuli (Latin for ‘little bells’), has defined his work right up to today. The ‘tintinnabuli principle’ does not strive towards a progressive increase in complexity, but rather towards an extreme reduction of sound materials and a limitation to the essential.
– taken from Universal Edition http://www.universaledition.com/composers-and-works/Arvo-Paert/composer/534/biography
- Please visit the link above for comprehensive information of music theory, works, links, etc. Including their blog about Avro Pärt in his 80s http://www.universaledition.com/arvo-part
- Listen for free to pieces by Pärt and similar artists on Last FM: https://www.last.fm/music/Arvo%2BP%25C3%25A4rt