arvo-part-flower-pot

“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.”

Arvo Pärt Centre

Arvo-Part-har-laga-musikken-brukt-i-Edda
“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.”

— Arvo Pärt, The Telegraph (more…)

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 writerMarilynne 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.”

Source: The Silence And Awe Of Arvo Pärt : Deceptive Cadence : NPR

‪In his recent collection of essays, Known and Strange Things, Nigerian-American writer and photographer Teju Cole reflects on the poetry of Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer: “the strongest associations he brings to mind are the music of Arvo Pärt and the photographs of Saul Leiter.”

Beginning on 14 August 2016

blog_images_1336518756-arvopartIn August 2016, the Arvo Pärt Centre will host its sixth series of Film Nights, showing films that feature Arvo Pärt’s music. For the first time, the makers of as many as two of the films to be shown, David Trueba and Piero Messina, will be in Tallinn to talk about the background to their films and their reasons for their choice of film music.

The film evenings will open with the Soldiers of Salamina, a film from 2003 by the versatile Spanish filmmaker David Trueba, which takes the audience to the battlefields of the Spanish Civil War as seen through the eyes of a contemporary writer. The film repeatedly uses and intertwines three often-used compositions: Fratres, Spiegel im Spiegel and Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten. [Read More]

arvo-part-piano

“The new composition is based on the 1988 a capella piece Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen that the composer decided to rearrange for string orchestra. According to the Universal Edition music publisher, the work appears sonically in a completely new light when compared to the choir version, and a new artistic level is effectively added.”

More at Arvo Pärdi Keskus.

ECM founder discusses the history of Pärt’s landmark recording

A DVD of Dorian Supin’s 2015 documentary Arvo Pärt – Even if I lose everything is now available. (Source)

Adrian Searle talks to the German visual artist about his work
gerhard-richter
Gerhard Richter
Gerhard Richter and I circle the seven big of sheets of glass that lean together in the middle of the ground floor of Marian Goodman’s elegant new London gallery. Richter’s House of Cards is all edges and transparent planes, reaching towards the ceiling and held together by small steel clamps. It looks precarious and dangerous. Reflections of the strip lights overhead skitter across the clear surfaces. We meet our own reflections there, too.

(more…)

Music & Literature, No. 6.
Music & Literature, No. 6.

Music & Literature no. 6 champions the work of three artists poised to break through on the international stage: Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik, Ukrainian composer Victoria Polevá, and Croatian writer Dubravka Ugrešić.

An aura of almost legendary prestige surrounds the short life of Alejandra Pizarnik, who, though haunted by doubt and depression, left behind an oeuvre by turns searing, tragic, playful, and erotic. Her portfolio brings into English 100 pages of previously untranslated prose, diary entries, and letters, as well as appreciations from, among others, Enrique Vila-Matas and César Aira, who writes that Pizarnik “was not only a great poet, she was the greatest, and the last.”  (more…)

Arvo Pärt
Arvo Pärt
Geoff Smith interviews Arvo Pärt

At a time when publicists worldwide are clamouring to apply the media driven rules of popular culture to sell ‘high’ art, the music of Arvo Part seems particularly vulnerable. The ‘minimalist’, ‘mystical’, ‘contemplative’ tags and their tired associative meanings abound, as does the continuing image of Part the pious pontiff. (more…)

Arvo Pärt
Arvo Pärt

Arvo Pärt speaks to Tom Huizenga (NPR)

Arvo Pärt is one of the few living composers to find popularity beyond the borders of classical music. R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Bjork are big fans. Although the 78-year-old musician usually shies away from acclaim and the media, he is currently attending a festival of his music in New York and Washington, and he made time to talk about his music, bike riding and bells.Pärt is a major composer, and I was a little nervous meeting him. So I brought along a bell for good luck. I set it on the table between us and gave it a little tinkle. (more…)