Arvo Pärt - Estonia's Legendary Composer

Source: Visit Estonia

Arvo Pärt - Estonia's Legendary Composer

Music has always played an important role in cultural identity for Estonians, and in recent years, Pärt has returned to his roots to nurture musical traditions in his home country. Arvo Pärt's journey to international acclaim began in Estonia and continues today as one of the most performed living composers in the world.

World renowned, deeply rooted

Arvo Pärt has received honorary doctorates from Oxford, the University of Sydney and the University of Freiburg, among others, as well as two Grammy awards. 

Photo by: Estonian Foreign Ministry 

Pärt grew up in Rakvere in North Estonia playing the piano at his family's home and went on to study music at the Tallinn Conservatory (now The Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre), graduating in 1963. During his studies, he was influenced by medieval and Renaissance music.

Pärt went on to become a popular composer during the 1960s with his music appearing in Estonian films. However, he was criticized during that time by the Soviet regime for his religious influences. In 1976, Pärt created his signature tintinnabuli style, recognizable in some of his best-known works like 'Für Alina' and 'Spiegel im Spiegel.' In 1980, Pärt left Soviet Estonia in search of creative freedom in Vienna, and later Berlin, where he continued to live and compose until 2010 when he resumed a full-time residence in Tallinn. During the 2010s Pärt earned the distinction of being the most performed living composer in the world and held the title for eight years.

The Estonian cultural festival Nargenfestival organises Pärt Days in September each year.

The Arvo Pärt Centre

The serenity of music and nature

A peaceful pine forest will make an ideal home for the Arvo Pärt Centre, opening in 2018. In the meantime, Estonian nature washes visitors with calmness and reflection, much like Pärt's music. 

Photo by: Magnus Heinmets

In 2010, Arvo Pärt and his family founded the Arvo Pärt Centre with "the aim of creating opportunities for preserving and researching the creative heritage of the composer in his native land, Estonia, and in the context of the Estonian language". 

In 2014, Spanish architecture firm Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos won a design competition with the submission 'Tablua' to house the new Arvo Pärt Centre. The Centre opened its doors to visit in 2018 in the village of Laulasmaa, located next to the sea and about 35 kilometres from Tallinn. The building itself is something to behold as it blends into the pine-forested hillside around and holds an archive of all Pärt's works.

Last updated : 21.10.2021

In category: History & culture