Arvo Pärt celebrates 84th birthday

Arvo Pärt.
Arvo Pärt. Source: Kristel Üksvärav

Arvo Pärt, by far the most famous living Estonian composer in a country already noted for its musicianship, and probably the most well-known Estonian worldwide, celebrates his 84th birthday on Wednesday.

A celebratory concert is to take place at St. John's Church (Jaani Kirik) in Tallinn Wednesday evening, according to the Arvo Pärt Center's social media page, and ERR channel ETV2 is airing a documentary, "That Pärt Feeling – The Universe of Arvo Pärt" (Paul Hegeman, 2019) to honor the great, if self-effacing, man, at 9.30 p.m. local time (viewable online here).

Born in Paide in 1935, Pärt got an exit visa from the Soviet Union in 1980 after a prolonged struggle with officialdom, in part due to supposed "foreign influences" in his work (Pärt still holds German citizenship). He returned to Estonia after independence and resides in Laulasmaa village, west of Tallinn, where the recently-opened Arvo Pärt center is located.

Most famous for minimalist, contemplative pieces, often in 12-tones, some of Pärt's most-aired works include Für Alina (1976), Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten (1977) and Spiegel im Spiegel (1978), with the latter two in particular often featuring in film scores, including Hilary and Jackie (1998) and Fahrenheit 911 (2004).

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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