The Arvo Pärt Centre was founded in 2010 by Arvo Pärt and his family with the aim of creating opportunities for preserving and researching the creative heritage of the composer in his native land, Estonia, and in the context of the Estonian language. The centre is situated in Laulasmaa, 35 km from Tallinn, on a peninsula with magnificent natural surroundings – within a pine forest near the sea. The building for the centre has been named Aliina – a name that symbolises new beginnings in Pärt’s music. It was with the piano piece Für Alina that the tintinnabuli style was introduced in 1976.
Building the Archive
The core of the Arvo Pärt centre is the archive, which brings together the entire creative heritage of the composer and related information and documents, both in physical and digital form. It is an exceptional undertaking in terms of the volume and diversity of the material, considering how active the composer is, the number of times his work is being performed and its influence around the world. What makes the personal archive of Arvo Pärt truly unique is the fact that the composer himself participates in compiling it. In all their versatility, the composer’s comments to his musical diaries and other archival documents are invaluable. Organising his abundant creative heritage is intensive and time consuming, yet an inventive process. Handling the material is particularly sensitive due to the fact that the composer is still using much of it in his current work. Arvo Pärt is working actively – composing new pieces and correcting and arranging his earlier work – so his personal archive must be dynamic, flexible and open to change, which makes constructing such structure a great challenge for us. To manage the digitised data, a database is being developed. It is being custom-built for the composer’s archive and the development continues even during the process of entering new data. In the future, APIS (the Arvo Pärt Infosystem) will not only provide a complete overview of the archival materials but will also make it possible to map links between events and documents. Part of APIS will be available online.
Activities of the Centre
Besides the archival work, the centre is also branching out in other directions. To mention just a handful, we have established active relationships with other music associations, and through annual film screenings, we have shown films that feature Arvo Pärt’s music. In collaboration with the ERP production company, the centre also released a recording of Vater unser. In addition, working with Minor Film studio, we have also released the DVD Playing Pärt, a rare documentary of Arvo Pärt preparing for a concert with children from a music school. Recently the Arvo Pärt Centre presented it’s first book, “In principio. The Word in Arvo Pärt’s Music” which brings together the texts of Arvo Pärt’s works with English translations. In cooperation with the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, a series of lectures by the musicologist Leopold Brauneiss, a prominent researcher of Pärt’s work, have been held and his articles will be published. In connection with its Liberal Arts professorship at the University of Tartu, a series of seminars on Arvo Pärt titled “Word and Music” were led by Prof. Toomas Siitan from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
The Arvo Pärt Centre currently operates in two small buildings that were initially not built for the archive. That is the reason we have started preparations for building a new centre that should be finished in about three years. We hope that the new centre will reflect the composer’s music and ideas in architectural form. In the future, the centre will include different activities involving Arvo Pärt’s work and function as a memory institution and information centre. Nevertheless, its primary function will be providing a research and learning environment with the archive at its heart.