Arvo Pärt receives the Grand Cross of Merit from Germany

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt was awarded the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The order was formally issued by the German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and presented to Pärt by the German ambassador to Estonia, Christiane Hohmann.

“The award is in recognition of and gratitude to Arvo Pärt for his contribution to classical music and the use of German texts in many of his works,” the Laulasmaa, Estonia-based Arvo Pärt Centre said in a statement.

In Berlin for almost 30 years

Pärt’s connection to Germany goes a long way back. After emigrating from the Soviet-occupied Estonia to the West in 1980, Pärt lived in Berlin, Germany, for almost 30 years.

In the city, he created the “Berliner Messe”, composed for the 90th German Catholics Days in Berlin in May 1990 – the first held following the fall of the Berlin Wall. One of his most notable German language choir cycles, “Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen” (1988/1991), which is based on liturgical texts and was commissioned by the RIAS chamber choir in Berlin to celebrate their 40th anniversary, was also created during that period.

Arvo Pärt by Kaupo Kikkas.

In Germany, the composer also began his ongoing collaboration with the renowned producer Manfred Eicher, whose ECM record label released several of Pärt’s recordings. Of Arvo Pärt’s later works, “Vater unser” (2005/2011), dedicated to Pope Benedictus XVI, uses the German language lord’s prayer as text.

The only order issued by the German State

The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany has been awarded since 1951, when it was established by the then-German president, Theodor Heuss. It is the only order issued by the German State, and it recognises notable German and international figures who have made a significant contribution to the development of German politics, economy and culture.

Arvo Pärt is one of the most well-known Estonians and one of the most performed living composers in the world.

Cover: Arvo Pärt awarded with the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, presented by the German ambassador to Estonia, Christiane Hohmann. Photo by Birgit Püve.

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