Arvo Pärt’s ‘Tabula Rasa’ voted Estonia’s best classical album of all time ({{commentsTotal}})

Composer Arvo Pärt photographed by Kaupo Kikkas, June 2010, Laulasmaa.
Composer Arvo Pärt photographed by Kaupo Kikkas, June 2010, Laulasmaa. Source: Photo courtesy of the photographer.

Estonia’s Classical Radio created a survey to find out which is the favorite Estonian classical album. Four albums by Maestro Arvo Pärt made it to top ten.

Pärt’s masterpiece “Tabula Rasa”, originally written in 1977, but released in 1984 under the German ECM Label, won the listeners hearts. The ECM’s version includes some of Pärt’s most distinguished works, such as "Fratres", "Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten" and "Tabula Rasa" itself consisting of two movements, "Ludus" and "Silentium".

“Tabula Rasa” was Pärt’s first record released abroad after he fled Soviet-occupied Estonia in 1980, and moved to Vienna with his family. The story goes that Manfred Eicher, ECM’s founder, first heard “Tabula Rasa” on the radio while driving in Armenia, several years before ECM released it. Eicher was so taken aback by what he heard that he pulled his car over and wondered how to get in touch with the composer; eventually he tracked him down in Vienna and the rest is history.

Another story, released by the American press, which has been cited on many occasions, tells of a journalist seeing young men dying of AIDS in a refugee center, who were listening to Pärt’s “Tabula Rasa” over and over.

Pärt wrote "Tabula Rasa" after a period of self-searching, which lasted eight years, from 1968 - 1976. During this time, he developed his renowned tintinnabuli style of composition, out of which "Fratres" was the first new work to emerge.

Classical Radio’s editor-in-chief Tiia Teder told ERR that “Tabula Rasa” has opened many doors in the world - not only for Pärt, but also for Estonian music in general.

2,000 classical albums were available for voting, out of which 730 received votes. In addition to the public, Estonian music experts – composers, musicians, music critics - also compiled their own top ten.

Arvo Pärt is the most successful Estonian composer of all time and currently also the most performed living composer in the world. He left his homeland in 1980, but returned in 2011, and now resides in Tallinn. Pärt celebrates his 80th birthday this year. The production of"Adam's Lament" in May, dedicated to this event, will be released in autumn, accompanied by a documentary about Pärt and the show's stage director Robert Wilson.

Top 10 Estonian classical albums of all time - as voted by the public

1. Arvo Pärt - "Tabula rasa" (ECM)
2. Head Ööd, Vend - "Õhtul"
3. Arvo Pärt - "Alina" (ECM)
4. Arvo Pärt - "Adam's Lament" (ECM)
5. Veljo Tormis - "Forgotten Peoples" (ECM)
6. Arvo Pärt - "Te Deum" (ECM)
7. Erkki-Sven Tüür - "Crystallisatio" (ECM)
8. Veljo Tormis - "Litany to Thunder" (ECM)
9. Tõnu Kõrvits - "Kreek's Notebook" 
10. Galina Grigorjeva - "In paradisum" (Estonian National Male Choir)

Top 10 Estonian classical albums of all time, as chosen by music experts

1. Arvo Pärt - "Tabula rasa (ECM)
2. Veljo Tormis - "Forgotten Peoples" (ECM)
3. Arvo Pärt - "Te Deum" (ECM)
4. Erkki-Sven Tüür – "Crystallisatio" (ECM)
5. Arvo Pärt - "Alina" (ECM)
6. Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir - "It Is Nice To Live Here" (Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir)
7. Arvo Pärt - "Adam's Lament" (ECM)
8. Veljo Tormis - "Litany to Thunder" (ECM)
9. Arvo Pärt – "Arbos" (ECM)
10. Galina Grigorjeva - "In paradisum" (Estonian National Male Choir)

Editor: S. Tambur

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