Tag Archives: Arvo Pärt

A First Visit to Stonecrop Gardens . . . to Music by Arvo Pärt

Stonecrop Gardens is fewer than thirty minutes south of us, yet we only recently discovered it.

It’s a very different sort of garden from Innisfree, which we visit several times a year.

Stonecrop’s design is as described here:

The gardens cover an area of approximately 15 acres and comprise a diverse collection of gardens and plants including woodland and water gardens, a grass garden, raised alpine stone beds, cliff rock gardens, and an enclosed English-style flower garden. Additional features include a Conservatory, display Alpine House, Pit House with an extensive collection of choice dwarf bulbs, and systematic order beds representing over 50 plant families. (From the website]

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Listening List

Another recent discovery, courtesy friend David Nice, was Arvo Pärt’s Symphony No. 3.

By the time Credo was composed in 1968, Pärt had come to the conclusion that the musical means he had been using so far had exhausted themselves. The composer then delved into early music because it was in Gregorian chant, early polyphony and polyphonic music from the Renaissance that he had previously found his musical examples, ideal sound combinations and techniques. This became the starting point for his eight-year period of searching for a unique musical language.

This silence was broken by Symphony No. 3, one of the first works that was considerably different from his earlier compositions and heralded Pärt’s new creative principles. The three movements of the composition follow each other attacca (i.e. without any break). The composer’s interest in monody and early polyphony is clearly visible here. The harmonic and melodic material brings to mind choir music from the 14th and 15th centuries, even though Pärt does not use any quotations. The polyphonic development in all movements of the piece do not emphasize the atmosphere from behind centuries, but rather, translate the thematic material into contemporary musical language. In Symphony No. 3 Pärt aimed to apply the notion of the movement of independent voices, imagining the entire structure of the composition as a metaphor for building a city. [citation]

Movement 1

Movement 2

Movement 3

David refers in a blog post to the BBC Proms performance of Symphony No. 3. While the performance itself is only available to watch on BBCPlayer if you are in the UK, a delightful moment from the rehearsal may be found here.


Credits: Sources for the quotations are at the links in the text. The photographs, as always on the blog unless otherwise indicated, are mine.


The Small Joys of Loviisa

Laivasilta Harbor Park, Loviisa

Laivasilta Harbor Park, Loviisa

Loviisa was my sun and joy.
Hämeenlinna was my school town, Loviisa was freedom.
Jean Sibelius

The young woman arrived at our table and exclaimed, “I love the summer.” It seemed to me as if she sang each sound as she spoke it. I thought how lucky we were to be in Finland in July, with its long sunlit days and temperate weather. Continue reading


View of 26th Estonian Song Celebration from where I stood (lower right in hat and vest) (Photograph by J. Holford)

View of 26th Estonian Song Celebration from where I stood (lower right in hat and vest) (Photograph by J. Holford)

It must be somewhere, the original harmony . . .
—Juhan Liiv

When we first decided on a trip to Helsinki, we didn’t know that Tallinn, Estonia, was so nearby. Nor did we know, when we first arranged our schedule, that our arrival in Tallinn coincided with the last day of the 26th Estonian Song Celebration, a storied national event held once every five years. I was able to get two tickets, on the grass. Whether we could actually attend was open to doubt, but at least we’d have a chance. Continue reading