Beauty in Silence: The Music of Arvo Pärt

Let’s face it, amidst our technology-saturated, go-getter culture, silence can be difficult to come by. We’re almost constantly surrounded by sound, whether it be from our devices, conversation with others, or ambient noise from our everyday activities. Silence, while sometimes sought out for a means of escape or reflection, is becoming an increasingly rare phenomenon.

In classical music though, silence can be a powerful tool. Say what you will about contemporary concert hall etiquette, but when an audience quietly respect the breaks between the movements of a symphony, it can be a wondrous moment. For composers too, silence can be a great asset. In an article entitled “Forerunners of Modern Music,” the American composer John Cage observed that, “The material of music is sound and silence. Integrating these is composing.” (Cage is perhaps most famous – or infamous – for his 1952 piece 4’33”).

One figure who makes an especially profound use of this idea is the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. In addition to utilizing simple tonalities and sparse textures, many of his pieces make ample use of silence, which is often meticulously composed into the score. Together, these features give Pärt’s music a strikingly original and contemplative quality, which has left a lasting impression on contemporary classical music.

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From the Silver Screen to Symphony Hall: Concert Works by Film Composers

It’s probably fair to say that film scores are one of the most widely heard forms of classical music today. Of course, to call a film score “classical” in the first place has been the subject of much debate over the years (maybe I’ll add my two cents to this discussion at some point) but regardless, one can’t deny the enormous presence that movie music holds in popular culture. (Just ask any random person on the street to sing the main theme from Star Wars and more likely than not, they’ll probably be able to do so!)

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Admit it, the Star Wars theme is now stuck in your head! 😉

However, what average moviegoers don’t often realize is that a number of beloved film composers have also written music for the concert hall, totally absent from the medium of film. Many of these works vary greatly in style and form, with some departing completely from the composer’s “cinematic sound.” Even so, mostly all of them tend to be less familiar to listeners than their film score counterparts.

Let’s explore a few and bring some to light…

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Beginnings

Hi everyone! Welcome to my first blog post! First thing’s first, if you want to read a bit more about me and this blog, feel free to click the About tab at the top of the page (or just click here).

Anyway, let’s kick things off with a story. This blog won’t feature many personal posts like this (it’ll mostly just be a platform to share and talk about cool music), but I thought this would be a fun way to get things going. Anyway, grab some popcorn, pull up a chair, and read on…

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