The Silence And Awe Of Arvo Pärt

An interview broadcast by NPR
Arvo Pärt
From 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. Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's music is celebrated at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a performance of his choral work Kanon Pokajanen at the Temple of Dendur.

"Oh, this is a good beginning, thank you," he said in his heavily accented English.

Pärt likes bells, literally and figuratively in his music. He also likes space and silence. Fans tend to use words like "timeless" to describe his contemplative music. But for Pärt, time has deep meaning. In conversation, as in his music, he takes his time to unclutter his thoughts. They come out like poems.

"Time for us, is like the time of our own lives," he says. "It is temporary. What is timeless is the time of eternal life. That is eternal. These are all high words, and so, like the sun, we cannot really look at them directly, but my intuition tells me that the human soul is connected to both of them — time and eternity." [Read More]

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