, 1935-, Estonian composer, b. Paide; grad. Tallinn Conservatory (1963). He worked for Estonian radio (1958-67), left his homeland (1980, then part of the USSR), and settled in West Berlin (1982). His first pieces were traditional, but by the time he composed the orchestral Nekrolog
(1960) Pärt was using the techniques of serial music
. His early works include the Credo
(1968) for piano, chorus, and orchestra and the Symphony No. 3
(1971). In 1976, Pärt made an abrupt change in his work. Inspired by Gregorian chant and Eastern Orthodox bell-ringing, he initiated a style he called tintinnabuli, which continues to characterize his work. It is strongly unitonal, minimal music in scales and broken triads that creates a balance of form and harmony and has rich mystical and religious overtones. Among his later works are the Fratres
series (1976-) for various instruments, Tabula Rasa
(1977), St. John Passion
(1989), Silovan's Song
(1994), and the Symphony No. 4
(2008) for strings, harp, and percussion. His meditative compositions have found a wide audience in the West.
See P. Hillier, Arvo Pärt (1997).
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