January 8, 2011

LOVING EVERY NOTE:

Composer Arvo Pärt: Behind the beard: Meeting Pärt felt like a pilgrimage to a mythical musical hideaway, but he was funny and generous – the exact opposite of his reclusive image (Tom Service, 1/06/11, The Guardian)

In one of the rooms in the house, there was a row of plant pots. It turns out they were more than mere decoration: they were painted by Pärt in 1977, because working with riotously festive colours was one of the ways he got through the hard years of writer's block. "You have to do something to keep your creativity going," he told me. But the real epiphany that set Pärt on his course of what sounded like a radical simplicity in the mid-70s, producing works such as Tabula Rasa, Fratres, and Passio, which poured out of him later that decade, was an encounter with a street cleaner outside his house in Tallinn. Searching for a solution that would connect his emotional, musical and spiritual lives together, Pärt, at a loss for inspiration, went outside into the snow one morning and asked the cleaner: "What should a composer do?" "Well, he should love every note," was the reply. "No professor had ever told me something like that," Pärt said, and this single sentence crystallised his thinking. He realised that to really love every note, to really understand the connections between even a tiny handful of musical pitches, could be the source of lifetime of composition and contemplation.

Pärt's music is some of the most immediate and recognisable of any contemporary composer, and its familiarity has made some hear in it only a facile style of "holy minimalism," where for others, it has life-changing power. To meet him was to discover the deep philosophical, biographical, musicological and even biological roots of his music.




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Posted by Orrin Judd at January 8, 2011 9:05 AM
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