Tintinnabuli: The Simple Style of Arvo Pärt

The Estonian composer Arvo Pärt released his most recent album, “Adam’s Lament,” in October 2012.  A minimalist composer of sacred music, he developed his own style known as tintinnabuli (from the Latin “tintinnabulum,” meaning small bells) through the influence of Gregorian and Renaissance music.  His choir works are normally sung in either Latin or Church Slavonic (language used in Orthodox ceremonies).

In response to Soviet political pressure on account of the religious content of his work, Pärt departed Estonia for Vienna in 1980, where he then moved to Berlin in 1981.  His breakthrough came in 1984 with the work “Tabula Rasa.”

American composer Steve Reich mentioned Pärt as a source of inspiration in a 2004 interview with the Guardian: “He’s completely out of step with the zeitgeist (spirit of the times) and yet he’s enormously popular, which is so inspiring.  His music fulfills a deep human need that has nothing to do with fashion.”

The video below (courtesy of Zeit Online) is the debut performance of the title track from “Adam’s Lament” in Istanbul by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.




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