arvo pärt: holy minimalism    Nowadays musician Arvo Pärt’s biggest problem is having become a victim of the success of his music. Most people have probably never heard of Arvo Pärt. I hadn’t heard of him either until his name started showing up in a lot of film credits. As there’s plenty more information on the Web, I’ll just give you a résumé: Arvo Pärt is a bearded musician who was born in Soviet Estonia (unlike now, back then wore beards). As well as that, he is one of the clearest examples of minimalism in contemporary music. Arvo Pärt spent his whole life as musician who looked like a monk and who only contemporary music fans knew about until when, in 1998, hard-to-pin-down, transcendental film director Terrence Malick used his music in Red Thin Line. It was then that Hollywood discovered Arvo Pärt and, as usually happens, it tried to squeeze as much out of him as possible. That’s what a fan of hard-to-pin-down, transcendental characters would say. Bitter people like us would say that nobody is ever where they want to be. Without Pärt’s permission, his music wouldn’t feature in around 70 films’ credits. Amongst others: Les invasions barbares, The Good Shepherd, There will be Blood, To the Wonder, This must be the place, The place beyond the pines, La Grande Bellezza, Foxcatcher...

Pärt’s compositions, minimally simple as they are, are complex pieces. It’s nothing to do with the new age music you hear when you go for a massage, although you could get that impression if you listened without paying much attention. The Estonian composer drinks from various wells: classical music, dodecaphony, traditional music, choral music and Gregorian chants, bell chimes... and you can hear all of that. In a sense, Arvo Pärt makes music which is ancient and modern at the same time. He does nothing to fill his work out. He doesn’t believe in superfluous notes. Each note has to be an unrepeatable, pure moment of music. Avoiding pomposity, he composes short pieces and pieces whose length is not specified, giving each sound the time it needs and without dragging things on unnecessarily. In that sense, you could say that he composes spiritually. It wouldn’t be too much to say that his pieces are
prayers offered to music itself.