Music Days

Beauty of Chaos
Arvo Pärt

Arvo Pärt (b. 1935) is well-known for his unique compositional technique tintinnabuli that has also been linked to the new simplicity style. His avant-garde works – the ones that have no connection with either the Orthodox music or the Gregorian chant – have only recently found interest outside Estonia. Pärt, together with his peers Veljo Tormis, Eino Tamberg, Jaan Rääts, and Kuldar Sink, composed in the neoclassical style during the 1950s. By the mid-1960s, this group of Estonian composers had adopted new avant-garde compositional styles and, among others, experimented with the twelve-tone technique.     

In 1963, Arvo Pärt graduated from the Tallinn State Conservatory, where he studies composition with Heino Eller. After the graduation, he worked as a sound engineer at the Estonian Radio and then became a freelance composer in 1967. After many years of creative silence, Pärt completed his first works in the tintinnabuli style in 1976. In 1980, the composer emigrated to Vienna and two years after that moved to West Berlin. Pärt currently resides in Estonia again.

The most important performers of Pärt’s music are The Hilliard Ensemble and Paul Hillier, the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, and Tõnu Kaljuste. In 1984, Pärt started collaborating with the ECM record label that has released many albums with Pärt’s music, the most acclaimed of them from the recent years is “Adam’s Lament” from 2012, which was also nominated for the Grammy Award.

Arvo Pärt has received honorary doctorate degrees from many universities as well as numerous significant awards and recognition for his works and his works’ recordings. In 2011, Pope Benedictus XVI appointed Arvo Pärt member of the Pontifical Council for Culture. There are festivals dedicated to Arvo Pärt, there are numerous books and films about his life and works. In 2010, the composer and his family founded the Arvo Pärt Centre in Laulasmaa, which preserves the creative heritage of the composer. In 2018, the Arvo Pärt Centre opened a new and contemporary building. In 2015, the whole worlds celebrated Arvo Pärt’s 80th birthday. He has been a role model and inspiration for countless composers and performers around the globe.