In a 30-minute documentary produced in collaboration with the Arvo Pärt Centre, the composer discusses the significance of his personal diaries to the formation and development of his music.
“Any adversity makes artists move closer to what is important, essential. Only time can show what fruits will such a focusing on the essential bear.”
In a new interview, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt suggests what the coronavirus might mean for society and the arts. Source: Arvo Pärt Centre.
“It might have been about two years before the birth of tintinnabuli, in 1974, when Arvo and Nora Pärt met the icon painter Viktor Krivorotov in Georgia, who also dealt with creative psychology. And Nora asked for his advice. What can he do? How could he find a way out of this creative dead end? ‘And Krivorotov recommended experimenting with different types of art – precisely the ones you do not know or command. You just have to have the courage to do poorly and fail, and even have a certain impudence,’ Nora relates.
As the paper and canvas felt too demanding to paint on, at some point they arrived at flowerpots – ordinary clay pots that usually came with flowers. ‘And then I just waited for the flowers to dry, to get the pot,’ she continues. In the beginning it was only Nora who painted the pots with water-based paint, but one day Arvo too took a pot in his hands. ‘And what did he paint? Some sort of lines. Simple lines in different colours,’ Nora recalls. We will never know if it was painting that eventually got the composer’s creativity flowing again, but indeed it released something in him.”
“As the highlight of the 800th anniversary celebrations of the University of Salamanca, the oldest university in Spain, an extraordinary concert will be performed on 18 February 2018, with the world premiere of Arvo Pärt’s new a cappella composition, And I heard a voice… / Ja ma kuulsin hääle… as part of the programme.” — Arvo Pärt Centre
On words, music, and expression
“Most of my early music was non-vocal. In fact, I only started writing intensively for choirs after I met the Hilliards. Hearing them for the first time changed my life totally. The tears fell over my face and I was not able to say where I was – in heaven or here on Earth. It was a shock.”
Catching up on my reading. What follows are a few of the articles and interviews that have caught my eye over the last few weeks – and some that I have been inspired to revisit.
Joseph Conrad on Henry James and what makes a great writer • Marilynne Robinson on William Faulkner and what literature owes to the Bible • Sonny Rollins on how fifty years of practicing yoga made him a better musician • Alex Ross on the consolations of Arvo Pärt‘s music • Peter Bouteneff in conversation about Arvo Pärt • On the lasting emotional impact of Louis Kahn‘s architecture
I recently had an opportunity to see David Lynch: The Art Life, a wonderful documentary about the American filmmaker David Lynch, directed by Jon Nguyen. The film offers unparalleled access to Lynch, and cobbles together a series of telling anecdotes about Lynch’s childhood in the suburbs, and his early days as a painter. ‘The Art Life’ refers to a lifestyle choice that Lynch adopted after reading Robert Henri’s book about painting, The Art Spirit: “The art spirit sort of became the art life, and I had this idea that you drink coffee, you smoke cigarettes, and you paint, and that’s it.” (more…)
I have been revisiting the music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt recently, which I find very consoling. Back in 2014, Tom Huizenga (NPR) managed to secure an interview with Pärt, where he reflected on the use of space and silence in his work:
“[W]hen we speak about silence, we must keep in mind that it has two different wings, so to speak. Silence can be both that which is outside of us and that which is inside a person. The silence of our soul, which isn’t even affected by external distractions, is actually more crucial but more difficult to achieve.”