Skip to page content


Listen to audio:

About this Piece

No one knows tapestries of gorgeous sound as well as Arvo Pärt (b. 1935). Along with Glass' and Reich's, Pärt's music makes up some of the most trans-hypnotic sounds imaginable. He stands alone tonight as the "sacred Minimalist," who studied plainsong and Gregorian chant after starting out writing serialism and neo-classicism. Pärt dubbed his later style "tintinnabular" - like the ringing of bells. It can thought of as the application of various inversions of a certain triad. Annum per annum, for solo organ (1980), is striking not only for its stark sonorities and simple harmony, but for the technique Pärt employs at the piece's beginning: a massive chord is struck and held, then the organ's air is shut off, leaving the notes of the chord to slowly disappear into the ether. The dwindling sound and falling pitch leaves a ghostly impression. The music starts back up softly out of the nothingness, then builds slowly to an intense crescendo and a clear and vivid ending.

- Jessie Rothwell is the Publications Coordinator for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She also writes music, plays the oboe, and sings Bulgarian folk music.