Arvo Pärt

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Arvo Pärt (pronunciation: [ˈɑrvo ˈpært]; born September 11, 1935 in Paide , Estonia ) is an Estonian composer who, as a representative of New Simplicity, is one of the most important living composers of New Music . He has Austrian citizenship . From 1981 to 2008 he lived in Berlin .

Arvo Pärt in Christchurch Cathedral , Dublin (2008)


Arvo Pärt began his musical education at the age of seven and wrote his first own compositions at the age of fourteen. In 1954 he began to study music, worked as a sound engineer for the Estonian radio and studied in Tallinn from 1958 to 1963 composition with Veljo Tormis and Heino Eller . His early neoclassical work was influenced by the music of Shostakovich , Prokofiev and Bartók . Then Pärt experimented with Schönberg's twelve-tone technique and musical serialism .

His music aroused the displeasure of the Soviet cultural functionaries because of the modern way of composing, which was not regarded as conforming to the system, and because of its religious content. His composition Nekrolog , the first Estonian work in twelve-tone technique, was officially disapproved by Tikhon Khrennikov in 1960 because of its serialism. Pärt was looking for a new way of artistic expression and found it from 1962 as a student at the Moscow Conservatory using the so-called collage technique , in which (as in his composition Credo ) he borrowed sound material from the works of other composers, especially Johann Sebastian Bach . The collage technique, however, turned out to be a dead end for Pärt: He had the feeling that “it no longer makes sense to write music if you almost only quote”.

In the early 1970s, Pärt joined the Russian Orthodox Church . During a long creative break (1968–1976), in which the 3rd Symphony (1971) is the only authorized work, he dealt primarily with Gregorian chant ( Gregorian chant ), the school of Notre Dame and the music of the Renaissance ( classical vocal polyphony). When Pärt presented the piano piece For Alina in 1976 , he had developed his personal style in the long seclusion in which the personal world of emotions receded in favor of a balance that had arisen from the ascetic.

He called this new language, which was decisive for this epoch of his life's work, the Tintinnabuli style. Tintinnabulum (Latin) means bells. What is meant is the “ringing” of the triad, the three tones of which ring through the entire piece. The aim of this style is to reduce the sound material to the bare essentials. In terms of composition, Pärt's Tintinnabuli works consist of two voices: one part consists of a major or minor triad, the second is the melody part, which is not necessarily in the same key as the first. Both voices are linked by strict rules. The smallest musical component is the two-tone sound, which is why the melody part also consists of two voices. Despite the simplicity of the material and the aim of reducing it to the essentials, the resulting structures do not lack complexity. With the help of old techniques such as the canon of proportions , he developed forms that exude great calm through their regularity. Static triads represent eternity, dynamic melodies the transience of time.

In 1980, under pressure from the Soviet government, Arvo Pärt emigrated with his family to Vienna, where he received Austrian citizenship . In 1981 he came to Berlin-Lankwitz with his family on a DAAD scholarship . After the collapse of the Soviet Union and Estonia's independence, he spent part of the year in his Estonian country house. In 2008 he returned to Estonia.

Pärt is extremely popular for a contemporary composer. At the invitation of Walter Fink , he was the 15th composer in the annual composer portrait of the Rheingau Music Festival in 2005 . The Torino Settembre Musica Festival honored Pärt on the occasion of the Olympic Winter Games in Turin with the commissioned composition La Sindone ( The Shroud ), an orchestral composition on the Turin Shroud , which premiered on February 15, 2006 in the Turin Cathedral . Its German premiere by the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra took place on February 24, 2007 in Hamburg's Laeiszhalle in the presence of Pärt.

Arvo Pärt dedicated the performance of his works in the 2006/2007 concert season to the journalist Anna Politkowskaja, who was murdered on October 7, 2006 .

In 2014 he received an honorary membership of the International Society for Contemporary Music ISCM ( International Society for New Music ).

The Arvo Pärt Center in Laulasmaa (Estonia) opened on October 13, 2018 .

Honors (selection)


In his almost exclusively religiously motivated music, Arvo Pärt strives for an ideal of simplicity that supports the spiritual message. Pärt explains his music like this:

“I discovered that it is enough if a single note is played beautifully. This tone, the silence or the silence calm me down. I work with little material, with one voice, with two voices. I build from primitive material, from a triad, a certain sound quality. The three sounds of a triad have a bell-like effect. That's what I called it Tintinnabuli . "

A typical example of his style is his St. John Passion , for which he, like many of his works

“Chose an objective, supra-personal type of musical implementation. The text is read without any additions in Latin, the former world language of the Church; Although Jesus and Pilate are soloists, their singing is completely embedded in the evenly meditative, non-concertante musical course; the evangelist part is performed by one to four singers in a constant [...] A minor tonality enriched with diatonic dissonances . "

From the reason given by the Society for the Award of the International Bridging Prize:

“Arvo Pärt has contributed with musical means to bring the spiritually formative forces of Europe together. In his work, traditions from Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Europe meet and enrich one another. He succeeded in building a bridge between aesthetics, ethics and spirituality and in bringing elements of the musical language of the East into the concert halls of the West and making them accessible to a wide audience. His work enjoys greater acceptance than any other composer of contemporary music. His work makes the basic human need for a combination of aesthetics, ethics and spirituality, which in our predominantly secularized society so often subordinate to politics and economics, clear and tangible. In this way, Pärt sharpens the sense of common humanity and basic experiences and thus makes a peoples-unifying, peace-building contribution for all people in different social systems and cultures. "


Arvo Pärt in 2011
  • 1956–1957: Four easy dance pieces.  (Music for children's theater) for piano
  • 1958/1959: 2 sonatinas .  op. 1 for piano
  • 1959: Partita . op. 2 for piano
  • 1959/2003: Cantata Meie aed (Our Garden) / Our Garden . op. 3 for children's choir and orchestra
  • 1956–1964: 5 laulu lastele (5 children's songs).  For children's choir and piano
  • 1960: Nekrolog .  For orchestra
  • 1963: Perpetuum mobile.  op. 10 for orchestra
  • 1964: Symphony No. 1 op.9 Polyphonic
  • 1964: Collage about BACH .  For strings, oboe, harpsichord and piano
  • 1964: diagrams.  op. 11. For piano
  • 1964: Quintettino.  For flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn
  • 1963: Solfeggio .  For mixed a cappella choir or for string quartet
  • 1964/1994: Concerto Piccolo on BACH.  For trumpet, string orchestra, harpsichord and piano
  • 1966: Pro and contra.  Concerto for violoncello and orchestra
  • 1966: Symphony No. 2
  • 1968: Credo .  For piano, mixed choir and orchestra
  • 1971: Symphony No. 3
  • 1976: For Alina.  For piano
  • 1976: Trivium.  For organ
  • 1976/1995/2008: Pari Intervallo.  For organ / for clarinet, trombone and string orchestra / for two pianos or piano 4hdg.
  • 1976/1984/1996: We sat by the waters of Babel and wept.  For voices or mixed choir and organ / for trombone and chamber orchestra / for voices and instrumental ensemble
  • 1976/2001: If Bach had raised bees.  For piano, wind quintet, string orchestra and percussion
  • 1977/1986: Arbos.  For recorders and triangle ad. lib./ for eight brass instruments and percussion
  • 1977/1980/1982/2007: Fratres.  (various occupations)
  • 1977/2009: Summa.  For choir or soloists a cappella / for saxophone quartet
  • 1977: Tabula rasa.  Concerto for two violins (or violin and viola), prepared piano and string orchestra
  • 1977: Variations for the recovery of Arinuschka.  For piano
  • 1977/1980: Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten .  For a bell and string orchestra
  • 1977/1990: Sarah was Ninety Years Old.  For 3 voices, percussion and organ
  • 1977/1996: Cantate Domino canticum novum.   For mixed choir or soloists and organ
  • 1977/1996: Missa Syllabica.  For four-part mixed choir a cappella or with organ
  • 1978: Spiegel im Spiegel .  For violin and piano (or for other string or wind instruments solo with piano)
  • 1978: Film music for Test pilota Pirxa / Navigaator Pirx , with Eugeniusz Rudnik ( Poland / Soviet Union ( ESSR and RSFSR ), director: Marek Piestra , screenplay based on Stanisław Lem )
  • 1980/2008: De profundis.  For male choir, percussion ad lib. and organ / for male choir and chamber orchestra
  • 1980: Annum per annum.  For organ
  • 1982: St. John Passion (Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem).  For solos, mixed choir, instrumental quartet and organ
  • 1984–1986 / 1992: Te Deum .  For 3 choirs, prepared piano, string orchestra and tape
  • 1984: It sang long years ago.  For alto or countertenor , violin and viola
  • 1984/1997: Two Slavic psalms.  For mixed choir or soloists a cappella
  • 1984/2001: Pilgrimage song / Pilgrims' song.  For tenor or baritone and string quartet / for male choir and string orchestra
  • 1984/2004: Hymn to a Great City.  For two pianos
  • 1985/1991/1995: Psalom.  For string quartet / for string orchestra
  • 1985/2008/2020: Stabat mater .  For soprano, countertenor, tenor, violin, viola and violoncello / for three-part mixed choir and string orchestra
  • 1988/1990: Festina Lente.  For chamber ensemble / for string orchestra and harp ad lib.
  • 1988/1991: Seven Magnificat antiphons.  For mixed a cappella choir
  • 1989: Magnificat .  For mixed choir a cappella ( dedicated to Christian Grube and the Staats- und Domchor Berlin )
  • 1989/1992: Miserere .  For solos, mixed choir, ensemble and organ
  • 1989: Nýnje k wam pribjegáju (revised 1997 to the Ode IX, from Canon Pokajanen )
  • 1989/1999/2000: My path has peaks and valleys.  For organ
  • 1989/1999/2000: My way.  For 14 strings and percussion
  • 1990/2002: Berlin fair.  (1990–1992, revised 1997) For four-part mixed choir or soloists and organ
  • 1990/2001: The Beatitudes / Beatitudines.  For four-part mixed choir and organ
  • 1990: Bogoróditse Djévo.  For mixed a cappella choir
  • 1990: Statuit ei Dominus.  For two mixed choirs and two organs
  • 1990/1996: Beatus Petronius.  For two four-part mixed choirs and two organs
  • 1990: Memento
  • 1990/1991: Summa.  For violin, two violas and organ / for string quartet / for string orchestra
  • 1991: Silouan's song.  For string orchestra
  • 1992: And One of the Pharisees (And one of the Pharisees).  For three voices or three-part choir a cappella
  • 1992/1994: Trisagion .  For string orchestra
  • 1992/2005: Mozart Adagio.  For violin, violoncello and piano (after KV 189e)
  • 1994/1996: Litany.  For solos, mixed choir and orchestra
  • 1994/1997: Ode VII (Memento). For four-part mixed choir a cappella
  • 1995/1999: May I ... . For violin solo, tubular bell ad lib. and strings
  • 1996: I am the True Vine.  For mixed a cappella choir
  • 1996-1998: Dopo la vittoria. Piccola cantata.  For mixed a cappella choir
  • 1997: The Woman With the Alabaster Box.  For mixed a cappella choir
  • 1997: Tribute to Caesar.  For mixed a cappella choir
  • 1997: Kanon pokajanen.  For mixed a cappella choir
  • 1997: Odes I, III, IV, V, VI, VIII from Kanon pokajanen.  For mixed a cappella choir
  • 1997: Prayer according to the canon.  For mixed a cappella choir
  • 1998: Triodion.  For mixed a cappella choir
  • 1998: Two prayers.  For female choir a cappella
  • 1998/2002: Como anhiela la cerva / Como sierva sedienta.  For soprano or female choir and orchestra
  • 1999-2000: Orient & Occident.  For string orchestra
  • 1999/2002: Cantique des degrés.  For four-part mixed choir and orchestra
  • 2000: Littlemore Tractus.  For mixed choir and organ
  • 2000: My Heart is in the Highlands. (Based on a poem by Robert Burns ) For countertenor or alto and organ
  • 2000: Which was the Son of… . For four-part mixed choir a cappella
  • 2000/2002: Cecilia, Vergine Romana.  For four-part mixed choir and orchestra
  • 2001: Nunc dimittis .  For four-part mixed choir a cappella
  • 2001-2002: Salve Regina .  For four-part mixed choir and organ
  • 2002/2006: 2 lullabies.  For voice or two female voices and piano / for female choir or two female voices and string orchestra
  • 2002: Peace upon you, Jerusalem (Peace upon you, Jerusalem).  For female choir a cappella
  • 2002: Lamentations.  For Piano and Orchestra, (inspired by the sculpture Marsyas by Anish Kapoor )
  • 2003: In principio.  For mixed choir and orchestra
  • 2003: Most Holy Mother of God.  For four voices a cappella
  • 2003/2007: Passacaglia.  For violin and piano / for one or two violins, vibraphone ad lib. and string orchestra
  • 2004/2005/2008: L'Abbé Agathon.  For soprano and eight violoncellos / for soprano, four violas and four violoncellos / for soprano, alto, female choir and string orchestra
  • 2004: Anthem of St John the Baptist.  For four-part mixed choir and organ
  • 2004/2006/2007/2009: Da pacem Domine .  For voices a cappella; for choir and string orchestra; for string quartet or orchestra; for four-part mixed choir and string orchestra / for recorder quartet / for saxophone quartet
  • 2005: Our Father.  For boy soprano (or countertenor) and piano
  • 2005: La Sindone.  For orchestra
  • 2005: Face to Face.  For soprano, baritone, clarinet, viola and double bass
  • 2006: Estonian.  For flute
  • 2006: For Anna Maria.  For piano
  • 2006: For Lennart in memoriam.  For string orchestra
  • 2006/2009 Veni Creator.  For mixed choir or soloists and organ / for four-part mixed choir and string orchestra
  • 2007: The Deer's Cry.  For four-part mixed choir a cappella
  • 2007: Morning Star.  For four-part mixed choir a cappella
  • 2007: Scala cromatica.  (Trio piccolo) For violin, violoncello and piano
  • 2007: be praised, you tree.  For baritone, violin, quintals and double bass
  • 2007–2008: These Words.  For string orchestra and percussion
  • 2008: Symphony No. 4 Los Angeles.  For string orchestra, harp, timpani and percussion (dedicated to Michael Chodorkowski )
  • 2008: O antiphons.  For eight violoncellos
  • 2008: Alleluia trope.  For vocal ensemble (or chamber choir) and eight violoncellos ad lib.
  • 2009: Adam's Lament.  For four-part mixed choir and string orchestra
  • 2009: Silhouette (homage to Gustave Eiffel). For string orchestra and percussion
  • 2009: Missa brevis.  For twelve violoncellos
  • 2010: Alleluia trope.  For four-part mixed choir and string orchestra
  • 2010: In spe.  For wind quintet and string orchestra
  • 2010: Ukuaru valss.  For piano
  • 2014: Swansong.  For orchestra
  • 2016: The Deer's Cry. For choir and strings and wind instruments


  • Leopold Brauneiss: Arvo Pärt's Tintinnabuli Style: Contemporary Music Toward a New Middle Ages. In: Postmodern Medievalisms . Eds. Richard Utz and Jesse G. Swan. Cambridge: Brewer, 2004. pp. 27-34.
  • Hermann Conen (Ed.): Arvo Pärt - The music of the Tintinnabuli style . Dohr, Cologne 2006, ISBN 3-936655-33-2 .
  • Martin Elste: An Interview with Arvo Pärt, in: Fanfare 11 (1987/88) No. 4 (March / April 1988), pp. 337-341.
  • Constantin Gröhn: Dieter Schnebel and Arvo Pärt - composers as “theologians” . Lit, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-8258-9599-8 .
  • Paul Hillier: Arvo Pärt . Oxford University Press, Oxford 1997, ISBN 0-19-816616-8 .
  • Oliver Kautny (Ed.): Arvo Pärt - Reception and effect of his music . epOs-Music, Osnabrück 2001, ISBN 978-3-923486-31-1 .
  • Oliver Kautny: Arvo Pärt between East and West - reception history . Metzler, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-476-45306-5 .

Web links

Commons : Arvo Pärt  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Austria honors Arvo Pärt. Retrieved September 13, 2015 .
  2. a b c Jüri Reinvere: Where the music comes from is a secret . In: Berliner Zeitung of September 11, 2015, p. 25.
  3. a b Harenberg composers lexicon. Mannheim 2004. p. 691
  4. ^, May 9, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2014 .
  5. ^ Program booklet 5th Symphony Concert of the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra 24./25. February 2007
  6. ^ ISCM Honorary Members
  8. Minor Planet Circ. 16593
  9. Südwestpresse Ulm. Donauzeitung from May 3, 2007, p. 7.
  10. ^ Nomina di membri del Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura , December 10, 2011, accessed on November 20, 2017.
  11. Michael Wersin: CD Guide Classic. Stuttgart 2003. pp. 267-268
  12. ^ Bridge Prize of the City of Görlitz ( Memento from July 15, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  13. publisher information
  15. Online score - UE Vienna