Arvo Pärt—Fratres for Strings and Percussion
Arvo Pärt, Fratres for Strings and Percussion
In 1977, Arvo Pärt wrote Fratres for Strings and Percussion (fratres means brothers, in Latin). This composition exemplifies tintinnabuli, the style of music Pärt created. It is a set of variations on a theme that combines sections for strings, followed by sections for percussion—the brothers, if you will, of the title. This composition also illustrates Pärt’s claim that "the instant and eternity [two additional brothers] are struggling within us."
The work sounds exotic, ancient. A deep, sonorous drone sounds throughout the piece—much as might be encountered in the classical music of India; this droning hum becomes particularly noticeable when the strings stop and only drum and tambourine (or drum and clapper) sound. The alternating sections for strings and percussion are united by the constant drone. The music fades away into distance, or time.
This piece could form the basis of a ballet, or a work of modern dance.
Again almost I wrote here something I have hesitated to write so far in this blog—that is: if you listen to nothing else I write about, listen to this.
Tom Huizenga posted an interesting piece about Arvo Pärt for National Public Radio (NPR); it includes an excerpt from a 2015 documentary about Arvo Pärt: The Lost Paradise:
Tom Service, in The Guardian, wrote an informative essay about Arvo Pärt. It includes recordings of a wide selection of Pärt's music, including Fratres for Strings and Percussion:
And here is a link to Amazon.com, in case you want to download the piece; Juho Vartiainen conducts the Tapiola Sinfonietta (from the album Arvo Pärt: Seventy Five Year Celebration Collection):
I have listened to Fratres for Strings and Percussion many times yesterday and today. I had never heard it before. It is music to spend a lifetime with.
The photograph, above, is of sunset at Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Credit: NPS; used courtesy of the National Park Service). This is the fourteenth of twenty photos of National Parks that I will feature in this blog to honor the centenary of the National Park Service.