An exhibition is exploring Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s journey as an artist

The Laulasmaa, Estonia-based Arvo Pärt Centre runs an exhibition that presents the thoughts recorded in the maestro’s diaries.

On 1 July, the Arvo Pärt Centre opened the exhibition, “When you seek from almost nothing”, that for the first time presents the thoughts recorded in Arvo Pärt’s diaries to a wider audience. With its first permanent exhibition, the centre continues the series of events dedicated to Arvo Pärt’s birthday – the maestro will turn 85 on 11 September 2020.

A journey into Pärt’s thoughts

“The exhibition takes visitors on a journey into Arvo Pärt’s thoughts, to become acquainted with decades of the composer’s reflections on silence, the word and sound. These are the concepts Pärt delved into when seeking his own language of sound. They are the cornerstones in defining his creative technique, tintinnabuli, and have provided him food for thought on his creative journey until the present day,” the centre said.

“While it is generally known that Arvo Pärt does not like to talk about his music in words, saying that ‘sound is his word’, we can see in his diaries that the inward-looking word, intense internal speech, has been important in his creative process and is closely intertwined with sound,” Kristina Kõrver, one of the curators of the exhibition, said in a statement.

“This is the very first time these personal reflections, kept private until now, are presented to readers on such a scale. This has required a lot of soul searching and courage from the composer to share this material,” Kai Kutman, another curator, added.

Arvo Pärt. Photo by Birgit Püve.

Purification of one’s soul

The exhibition charts his becoming a composer, taking visitors across a time and space that covers almost half a century, following the footsteps of Pärt’s creative quest.

“Arvo Pärt has said: ‘What is the cost of a sound or a word? What is my relationship to every one of the little dots I make on the sheet music?’ Every composer may be faced with similar questions, when they have blank sheet music in front of them. They start searching over and over again from the very beginning, ‘as if from almost nothing’,” the curators explained.

“On the other hand, self-preparation – self-reduction, purification of one’s soul and striving for a humble mind – are important prerequisites for Arvo Pärt’s creative process. ‘First of all, you must make yourself nothing. There has to be silence. You must make peace with your powerlessness. And that which is then given is like a gift’.”

The exhibition is designed as a spatial installation where the word born from silence and music alternately allow each other time.

The Arvo Pärt Centre in Laulasmaa, Estonia. Photo by Tõnu Tunnel.

The Spanish-designed Arvo Pärt Centre, introducing Pärt’s creative heritage to both domestic and international visitors, opened in Laulasmaa, near the Estonian capital, Tallinn, in 2018.

Cover: Arvo Pärt. Photo by Arvo Pärt Centre.

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