Estonian composer Arvo Pärt was awarded the Golden Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis – the highest cultural prize in Poland; in addition, the maestro was also given an honorary doctorate by the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music.
On 25 November, Pärt received the Gloria Artis prize and was honoured with a concert and an award ceremony at the Rotunda Hall of the John Paul II Museum in Warsaw, the Polish capital. The music was performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste. The concert featured Pärt’s Adam’s Lament, Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, Fratres, Salve Regina and Te Deum.
In his acceptance speech, Pärt recalled that 40 years ago, in 1978, Gidon Kremer, Tatjana Gridenko and Alfred Schnittke performed his new work, Tabula Rasa, in Warsaw. “As a composer, I was at the beginning of a new path. Warsaw listened to me and helped me to feel more secure on this new path. And now, 40 years later, I am standing here again, feeling again the kind of warmth that comes from the heart and that is vital for a composer,” he said, according to the Arvo Pärt Centre.
An honorary doctorate
Adding to the glory, on 26 November, Poland’s oldest institution of higher education in music, the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, bestowed Pärt an honorary doctorate for outstanding musical achievements and for the universal depth of his works.
The award ceremony took place at the university’s concert hall, where the Chopin University Chamber Orchestra performed the Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten.
The honorary doctorate by the university has previously been bestowed on Polish composers and conductors, Krzysztof Penderecki and Witold Lutosławski; the French composer and composition teacher, Nadia Boulanger; the Russian cellist and conductor, Mstislav Rostropovich, as well as the opera singer and conductor, Placido Domingo.
Pärt has won numerous awards in the last three decades, including the Praemium Imperiale (Japan, 2014) and the Ratzinger Prize (Vatican, 2017).
Arvo Pärt, born in 1935 in Paide, Estonia, has been the world’s most performed living composer for the past seven years in a row.
Cover: Arvo Pärt accepting the Gloria Artis prize (photo by Danuta Matloch).