Need info on Arvo Pärt and Für Alina
June 17, 2009 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Who can tell me lots about Arvo Pärt and/or Für Alina?
I'm a big fan of Part and Fur Alina in particular. I've read what I can find online but need more. I'm writing a short story where Fur Alina plays a major part, and I need to know as much as I can about it, specifically, or Part, more broadly. You can talk about it from a more technical standpoint or biographical or whatever--anything will help. Thanks!
posted by mermaidcafe to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
All I've got for you is a recording I made of Für Alina in 2004. That's a reknowned Fred Hutchinson Institute cancer researcher performing the piece on his priceless Steinway, and the photo was taken by a friend at the recording site.

You may enjoy the audio as you wish, but you may not distribute it.
posted by Aquaman at 10:17 AM on June 17, 2009

I met the composer when he said hello to our choir after a performance of his Passio. He is a very sweet, friendly man, seeming quite bemused in the middle of his huge, cloudlike beard.
posted by Pallas Athena at 11:05 AM on June 17, 2009

You should definitely read Paul Hillier's book on Pärt. I'm seconding Pallas Athena's impression of him as very benign and Santa-like on a brief meeting.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:28 AM on June 17, 2009

Check out this interview of Pärt by Alex Ross.
posted by NemesisVex at 11:41 AM on June 17, 2009

The way I've heard it, Part didn't write any music at all for several years before the composition of Fur Alina. He felt he had plateaued with all the avant garde stuff, or he hit some kind of composer's block, so he stopped writing any new music and started listening to old music -- not just Baroque and classical, but a lot of early polyphony and Gregorian/Slavonic chants too. The eventual result was Fur Alina and Tabula Rasa and the tintinnabuli style.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 1:03 PM on June 17, 2009

I always liked the story that he would cycle round in circles in his town square as a child in order to hear symphonies played over a speaker on a pole. The first couple of google hits look useful.
posted by mjg123 at 1:13 PM on June 17, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks!
posted by mermaidcafe at 2:19 PM on June 17, 2009

Written originally as a gift for a young Estonian girl on her own in London, the work's modest means give little hint of the soul-searching that preceded its composition. With "Für Alina", pärt has often said since, he began to find his voice as a composer: "This was the first piece that was on a new plateau. It was here that I discovered the triad series, which I made my simple little guiding rule."
In its original form, "Für Alina" is barely two minutes in length, yet the marking in the score "Calm, exalted, listening to one's inner self" encourages a treatment that takes a more liberal approach to duration.
posted by misteraitch at 3:55 PM on June 17, 2009

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