Listening to Finnish radio gave creative spark to future composer
The music of Arvo Pärt will be returning to its roots when his fourth symphony is played on Radio 1 of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE).
Without YLE, Pärt might never have become a composer.
“When I was ten years old I was able to hear good classical music in Rakvere mainly in the broadcasts of YLE. I listened to all of the concerts and music programmes, and I wanted to start composing.”
It has been said that the inspirations for Pärt’s early period were Dmitri Shostakovich and Béla Bartók, but Pärt himself does not agree.
“Because of YLE, I listened much more to Sibelius and Franz Liszt, as well as easy classics.”
He is said to have changed his style after running up against Soviet censorship.
“No. Censorship didn’t change me! Things were freer in Estonia than in Moscow. My own style was naturally found only for internal reasons. Certainly Credo (1968) caused problems for me later, because of its religious overtones.”
Pärt says that he loves Finland, where the musicians understand him, like they do in Estonia.
“I have had the pleasure of getting to hear my music in Finland, and to work with Esa-Pekka Salonen. And now, conducting in Helsinki is the surprising Cem Mansur.”
The Turkish Mansur was given the job after conducting in Mikkeli, and after making an impression on Erkki Palola, the concertmaster at the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.
By chance, Mansur got the opportunity to speak with Pärt and asked if he might conduct the symphony that Pärt was working on in Helsinki.
Pärt gave him permission, and the European première will bring in people from all around, including the Estonian president.
“All roads lead to Helsinki”, Pärt comments contentedly.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 16.4.2009
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