Minimalist Music: Arvo Pärt
Arvo Pärt, Teiji Ito, James Tenney, Conlon Nancarrow: four composers very different one another, sharing the honesty, the courage to remain themselves, to resist success, to search only for their own truth.
Arvo Pärt was born in Estonia in 1935.
By the sixties he was composing serial music (scandalizing the Soviet censors, of curse). Only he had the feeling that serialism was not his way. He was looking for something different in music, some basic simple structures of truth. So, he took a radical decision: to give up composition and to search firstly for his path.
He spent the next fifteen years by studying Renaissance music, Gregorian chant, Russian liturgical music, trying to find himself there, at the roots.
He started again to compose by 1977: Summa, Fratres, Magnificat, the Seven Magnificat Antiphons, the Beatitudes. And Spiegel im Spiegel, Festina Lente. And many other works of religious music, choral music, chamber music - it is now, listening to his works that I realize what Minimalism means in music - one note beautifully played is enough; and then silence, to meditate that lonely note. And the quiet development of music, with few and seldom notes, and long silences filled with music.
Minimalism does not mean only a movement of the sixties, it's much more. The boy in Andrey Rublyov, building the bell, he was a Minimalist, too. Malevich, giving us the black rectangle, he was a Minimalist, too. Minimalism is to give just a line, just a sound, and to fill the rest with silence, and beyond the line, beyond the sound, you will find your own self.
The image of Pärt, listening to the sound of the bell... And I think at the words of Tenney, each single sound is an event.
Just listen to Spiegel im Spiegel, it's pure beauty!