Friday, November 23, 2018

Arvo Pärt - "Te Deum"

My introduction to Arvo Pärt was about 7 - 10 years ago, I don't recall the precise incident or the reason.  I suspect I just heard something he composed (probably the "Te Deum") and was irrevocably drawn to it. His haunting music and near association with Finland instantly put me in mind of a white snowstorm. I imagined a grey clapboard house snowbound in a vast open space. I can still picture it. You would think this is hardly the material to coincide with Longboat Key.  But somewhere around two o'clock this morning as I lay in bed I was trolling the internet to see what I could find about Arvo Pärt whose name had arisen yesterday in a casual conversation I had at the hot tub with an American woman who has visited Finland (as have I).  I was pleased to discover that Helsinki, Finland is immediately above Estonia whence Pärt hails, adjacent the Baltic Sea (where I last sailed) and Sweden (where years ago my parents and sister lived and I visited). The woman in the hot tub has some relation who now lives in Stockholm, which is what sparked all this in the first place. Pärt's reputed connection to minimalist style and Gregorian chant reflects my predilection for Erik Satie and Thomas Tallis respectively. Everything connects.  As usual.

Arvo Pärt (born 11 September 1935) is an Estonian composer of classical and religious music. Since the late 1970s, Pärt has worked in a minimalist style that employs his self-invented compositional technique "tintinnabuli". Pärt's music is in part inspired by Gregorian chant. His most performed works include "Fratres" (1977), "Spiegel im Spiegel" (1978) and "Für Alina"(1976). Since 2010 Pärt has been the most performed living composer in the world.

It wasn't until about 9:00 am this morning that I went onto iTunes and downloaded one of Pärt's albums - what I suspect is exactly what I initially heard and which so entranced me. The mystical element of the music captured me again today.  As I swung onto the Gulf of Mexico Drive to complete my habitual morning bicycle ride I reflected upon the purity of the music. My detour near Longboat Pass bridge onto N Shore Road led me to a public beach access on Beer Can Island.

The lack of decoration of the music and the beach commingled. Like the birds that sail across the water we seldom see anything hugely different. Yet there is a stunning magic in the simplicity of the experience. The uniformity of nature and our being is compelling and oddly satisfying without the necessity of any achievement other than endurance.

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