Arvo Pärt—Tabula Rasa
Arvo Pärt, Tabula Rasa
In 1999, Patrick Giles wrote an article for Salon about his time spent as an AIDS crisis worker in New York City in the late 1980s. Many of the dying men he worked with found comfort listening to "Selentium," the second movement of Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa. "It sounds like angel's wings," some said. Alex Ross, in a 2002 article for The New Yorker, reported similar stories from cancer patients he worked with: they found consolation in Tabula Rasa.
Arvo Pärt wrote Tabula Rasa in 1977. It exemplifies tintinnabuli, the style of music Pärt created. It was the first composition of Pärt's to reach listeners beyond the Iron Curtain (Pärt lived in Estonia, then part of the Soviet Union). The piece is a double concerto for two solo violins, prepared piano, and chamber orchestra; it has two movements, "Ludus" (or, "Game") and "Selentium" (or, "Silence").
The work is openly compassionate. Based, as it is, on elements of Gregorian chant, which is to say on music of the church, it feels inescapably sacred.
Here are links to the articles I mentioned above:
Here is a link to Amazon.com, in case you want to download Tabula Rasa; Neeme Järvi conducts the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, with Gil Shaham and Adele Anthony, violin; and Erik Risberg, piano (from the album Arvo Pärt: Tabula Rasa):
Again almost I wrote here to listen to this, if nothing else. I have written that for each of the four works by Pärt that I have featured in this blog.
The photograph, above, is of the Grinnell Glacier Basin in Glacier National Park (Credit: NPS/ Tim Rains; used courtesy of the National Park Service). This is the fifteenth of twenty photos of National Parks that I will feature in this blog to honor the centenary of the National Park Service.