Composer of the Week: Arvo Pärt

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Previously heard at Salon97’s “Living Composers in the Dead of Winter” and “Terrible Twos” events, Arvo Pärt is a truly one of a kind and amazing composer, and he’s our Composer of the Week!

b. September 11, 1935 in Paide, Estonia

Arvo Pärt began studying music at an early age and had already worked as a recording engineer, film composer, and stage composer by the time he completed his conservatory studies in 1963.

Due to the Soviet Union’s occupation of Estonia, Pärt had very little access to Western culture in the 60s and for the duration of time he spent living in Estonia. Despite this setback, he found himself working with serialism and collage techniques — keeping Estonia musically current. Pärt’s first two symphonies and his work Perpetuum Mobile are examples of his serialist phase, and the jarring Collage uber BACH is an excellent example of his work with the collage composition technique.

Pärt has taken several periods of secluded silence in which he studies a specific musical genre from the 14th, 15th, or 16th centuries. After breaking his silence, Pärt generates beautiful works in homage to the art in which he’d recently been immersed.

Where to start:

-You may have heard Pärt’s music without even knowing it! Annum per Annum was featured in the film Thin Red Line and Fratres for Cello and Piano was highlighted in There Will Be Blood.

-Download Missa brevis for 12 cellos and vocal works such as Magnificat and Summa. (all are available on iTunes)

-Take a look at the videos below!

Collage uber BACH. Brilliantly disturbing!

Fratres for Cello and Piano. Featured in There Will Be Blood.

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