Arvo Part Interview


If you don’t know who Arvo Pärt is, this is his Wikipedia page.  The interview is here.  I just want to highlight a couple things that jumped off the screen at me.

I.R.: All right. Let’s take, for example, “Tintinnabuli”. What do you try to discover or find or achieve there? That keynote and the triad; what are you looking for there?

A.P.:Infinity and chastity.

I.R.:In what way?

A.P.:Well, so… by groping around.

I.R.: [—] What is “chastity” in this context? By the means of sound?

A.P.:I can’t explain, you have to know it, you have to feel it. You have to search it, you have to discover it. You have to discover everything, not only the way how to express it, you have to have the need for it. You have to desire it, you have to desire to be like this. All the rest comes itself. Then you’ll get ears to hear it and eyes to see it. It’s so with even quite usual and everyday things, with pieces of art and people…(emphasis added)

A bit later . . .

 Let’s talk about what you’d like to write next year!

A.P.: (makes some obscure movements in the air with his hand) Well, that way…

E.P.:What is “that way”? But maybe you don’t start writing at all but dancing instead. Tell me “that way” is? What sound it is?

A.P.:What sound?

E.P.:What colour does this sound have?


E.P.:What kind of blue?

A.P.:Bright blue.

E.P.:Almost white?


E.P.: Good, we reached somewhere at last. Does it fly or jump or walk?

A.P.:The sun is shining there, but we don’t see the sun.

E.P.:We are not blinded?

A.P.:No, we aren’t. Our spirit longs for this colour and light and wants like to fly toward it. You’d like to go instantly…

E.P.:What ties it up? Which colours burden it?

A.P.:It’s tied up with chains.

I.R.:But does it break free?

A.P.:What’s the point in living if you don’t believe in breaking free?

I.R.:But still, actually…

A.P.:What actually?

I.R.:Does it break free?

A.P.:Of course it does.

Obviously, you should read the whole thing, but one quick thought: The creative process makes no sense except to those who are creating.  Which is why artists are often considered nuts.

Oh, and I found it more than amusing there was a discussion of a piece of Pärt’s called “Tabula Rasa”.  Apparently, the piece was worked and reworked even after its initial performance.  “Tabula Rasa” means “Clean Slate”, so, either this was a joke the composer was having with the interviewer, who was too dim to understand, or Pärt was oblivious to his own irony.

As they say – read the whole thing.


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About gksafford

I'm a middle-aged theologically educated clergy spouse, living in the Midwest. My children are the most important thing in my life. Right behind them and my wife is music. I'm most interested in teaching people to listen to contemporary music with ears of faith. Everything else you read on here is straw.
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