Arvo Pärt @ 81: 24-Hour Marathon

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Arvo Pärt Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (Peeter Langovits)

On September 11, Q2 Music celebrates the 81st birthday of beloved Estonian composer Arvo Pärt with a 24-hour marathon of his music, hosted by Phil Kline and featuring new recordings released to celebrate the anniversary.

Arvo Pärt’s story is almost Biblical: an infidel, despised and cast out, wanders in the desert, hears ancient voices and finds his way to a new land where he is hailed as a prophet. In the early 1980s, when downtown New York was full of propulsive minimalism and punk rock, an LP on Manfred Eicher’s ECM label suddenly appeared, demanding attention with a quite different attitude. The music was quiet, slow and pristinely tonal, with an attitude of meditative calm. It seemed while others were making time stand still with rhythmic repetition, here was someone making time stand still by actually standing still.

There had been some inkling of like minds in the East, Górecki among them, and Pärt’s music had been played at Lincoln Center before, but it wasn’t quite like this. A transformation had occurred. Like many Eastern Europeans and Russians, Pärt had heard little modern music in his youth, wrote in a neoclassical style and drew scorn from teachers for trying “foreign” things like serial technique. He felt he was at a dead end and entered a period of contemplative silence and study of early music. Finally, in 1980 he was allowed to leave Estonia and settled in Berlin. The ECM recording of Tabula Rasa, Fratres, and Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten was released in 1984 and suddenly there was a new genre, “Holy Minimalism.” Arvo Part is now by some reckoning the most performed Classical composer in the world.

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Comments [1]

Josh from Jerusalem

Great show. Just a minor correction, Phil. Sorry but Sarah was NOT impregnated by God. (I think you were confusing one biblical story with another much later one.) Rather, God promises that Sarah will bear Abraham's child! There is a miracle here, but not one of divine impregnation. Just a miracle of old folks having a child.

Sep. 11 2016 08:33 AM

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