Arvo Pärt was born on 11 September in Paide, Estonia as the only child of Linda Anette and August Pärt.
Mother and son left Paide and moved to Rakvere, where Arvo Pärt spent his school years.
Piano studies at Rakvere Music School with Ille Martin.
First attempts at composition, which have unfortunately not been preserved.
Studies at Rakvere Secondary School No. 1.
Played flute and oboe in a wind orchestra conducted by Jaan Pakk, as well as piano and percussion instruments in the school’s dance orchestra.
In his final two years, worked as piano accompanist at Rakvere Music School.
Started his studies in composition at Tallinn Music School with Harri Otsa, but could only study with him for a few weeks.
Military service in the Soviet Army.
Played oboe, percussion and piano in the military orchestra. Released prematurely from military service due to health reasons.
In autumn continued his studies at Tallinn Music School with Veljo Tormis, who had only recently received a degree in composition.
The teacher and student soon became good colleagues for life.
Worked as a piano accompanist at the theatre club of the Tallinn Palace of Pioneers (presumably until 1959), composing several children’s songs and piano pieces.
Composition studies at Tallinn Conservatory with Heino Eller.
According to Pärt himself, he has been deeply influenced by Eller’s teaching style, work ethic and personality.
Finished his first compositions, which are included in the composer’s official list of works.
Besides children’s music and neo-classicist works also the dodecaphonic orchestral compositions Nekrolog (1960) and Symphony No. 1 (Polyphonic) (1963; dedicated to Eller).
Sound engineer at Estonian Radio.
Sometimes also worked as piano accompanist for the Estonian Radio Children’s Ensemble and composed children’s songs.
Joined the Estonian SSR Composers’ Union.
Cooperation with the Estonian State Puppet Theatre, composing music for seven puppet shows.
With Veljo Tormis and other young musicians attended the Warsaw Autumn festival of contemporary music.
He was acquainted with avant-garde music and composers, Luigi Nono among others. After returning from the festival, he composed the orchestral work Perpetuum mobile, which he dedicated to Nono. The composition received a very warm reception at its premiere at the 1965 Warsaw Autumn festival and the audience requested a repeat performance.
Lengthy stay in hospital due to acute health problems.
Completed dodecaphonic compositions with collage elements, the cello concerto Pro et contra and Symphony No. 2.
Quit his job at Estonian Radio in the autumn due to health reasons and has been working as a freelance composer ever since.
Participated in a happening at the Tallinn Writers’ House with Kuldar Sink, Toomas Velmet and other musicians, artists and writers.
A violin that was accidentally set on fire on stage caused a scandal after which Arvo Pärt too had to write an explanatory note.
Premiere of Credo in November
Estonian Radio Choir and Orchestra, Mart Lille (piano), Neeme Järvi (conductor). This is the composer’s most dramatic collage with the confrontation of two musical worlds – Bach’s prelude in C Major (WTC 1) and Pärt’s own dodecaphonic music. Credo received a fiery reception in the concert hall and the audience requested a repeat performance. However, an open affirmation of Christian faith was not officially accepted in Soviet Estonia, and so the composition was hushed up and further performances were banned.
Withdrawal from public life and period of searching; development of a new artistic expression.
Pärt abandoned modern composition techniques, studied Gregorian chant, the music of the Notre Dame school and Renaissance polyphony. Symphony No. 3 from 1971 is the only composition from that period in his official list of works.
To make a living, continued composing soundtracks.
During the 1960s and 70s Pärt composed music for nine documentaries, six feature films and also for almost 20 puppet films and animations.
Joined the Orthodox Church.
Birth of a new musical language.
In February, Pärt sketched a small two-part piece in his notebook, which was performed in March by Rein Rannap on piano under the title Für Alina.
In October, the Hortus Musicus ensemble of early music, conducted by Andres Mustonen, performed Pärt’s works composed in the new style, such as Pari intervallo, In spe, Für Alina and others.
For the very first time they were associated with the term tintinnabuli, which became the name of Pärt’s style and composition technique.
A creatively prolific year, with the completion and premiere of several compositions in the tintinnabuli style.
Pärt’s most performed works to this day: Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, Fratres, Summa, Tabula rasa and others.
The premiere of the Tabula rasa double concerto in Tallinn.
Performed by Gidon Kremer (violin), Tatiana Grindenko (violin), Alfred Schnittke (piano) and RAT Estonia Chamber Orchestra conducted by Eri Klas, turned out to be an extraordinary musical event which opened the door for the reception and spread of Pärt’s tintinnabuli works outside Estonia.
The first festival of early and contemporary music was held in Tallinn, also featuring Pärt’s tintinnabuli works.
At the festival, Pärt met the music publisher Alfred Schlee from Vienna, the manager of Universal Edition, which later became the main publisher of his work.
At the XI Congress of the Estonian SSR Composers' Union in February, Pärt gave a spontaneous speech wearing a long wig. He ironically thanked the authorities for two honorary titles.
Half a year earlier he had been awarded the title of Merited Art Worker of the Estonian SSR; however, in December he was detained as a dissident at Moscow airport on his way to a premiere of his composition in London. Pärt’s speech only confirmed his image as persona non grata in Soviet Estonia and resulted with the “recommendation” from the authorities to take his family and leave the country.
Excluded from the Estonian SSR Composers’ Union in November.
In January, the Pärt family was forced to emigrate from Estonia.
The Estonian media called the composer “a traitor of the fatherland” and performances of his works in concert halls and on radio were officially banned.
Emigration to Vienna. Universal Edition concluded an agreement with the composer for the distribution of his works.
Pärts were given Austrian citizenship.
Arvo Pärt awarded a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD – Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) and the family moved to Berlin, where they stayed for almost 30 years.
Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem.
Composed as a commission for the Bavarian Radio, premiered in Munich by the Bavarian Radio Chorus, soloists, instrumental ensemble and organ, conducted by Gordon Kember.
Creative collaboration commences with the record label ECM and producer Manfred Eicher.
Release of the CD Tabula rasa, which launched a whole new series of recordings under the title ECM New Series. Since then all first recordings of Pärt’s major works have been released by ECM.
Stabat Mater, completed as a commission for the Alban Berg Foundation.
Premiered in Vienna by the Hilliard Ensemble, Gidon Kremer (violin), Nabuko Imai (viola) and David Geringas (cello).
Te Deum, premiered in Cologne by the Cologne Radio Choir and Orchestra conducted Dennis Russell Davies.
Release of the CD Arbos (ECM).
The first record in cooperation between Arvo Pärt and the Hilliard Ensemble.
Miserere, composed as a commission for the d’Eté de Seine-Maritime Festival.
Premiered at the festival in Rouen by the Hilliard Ensemble, Western Wind Choir and an instrumental ensemble, conducted by Paul Hillier.
First visit to his home country since emigration.
11 Grammy nominations, mainly in the category of Best Contemporary Composition.
Berliner Messe, completed for the 90th Katholikentag in Berlin.
Premiered in Berlin by Theatre of Voices conducted by Paul Hillier.
Honorary membership of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.
Silouan’s Song, commissioned by Svenska Rikskonserter.
Premiered in Rättvik, Sweden by the chamber orchestra of the Musik vid Siljan festival conducted by Karl-Ove Mannberg.
Release of the CD Te Deum (ECM).
The first collaborative recording produced with Arvo Pärt, Tõnu Kaljuste, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.
Litany, premiered in Eugene, USA.
By the Hilliard Ensemble and the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by Helmuth Rilling.
Arvo Pärt festival consisting of ten concerts in Stockholm.
Honorary membership of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York.
Dopo la vittoria, commissioned by the City of Milan to commemorate 1,600 years since the death of Saint Ambrose.
Premiered in Milan in 1997 by the Swedish Radio Choir conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste.
Kanon pokajanen, composed for the 750th anniversary of Cologne Cathedral.
Premiered in 1998 in Cologne Cathedral by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste.
Como cierva sedienta, commissioned by the Festival de Música de Canarias.
Premiered at the 1999 festival by Patricia Rozario and the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Okko Kamu.
Cantique des degrés, commissioned by the Princess of Hanover for the 50th anniversary of the reign of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco.
Premiered in Monaco Cathedral by the Monte Carlo Opera Choir and Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste.
Cecilia, vergine romana, composed as a commission for Agenzia Romana for the events of Holy Year 2000 in Rome.
Premiered in Rome by the Choir and Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, conducted by Myung-Whun Chung.
Herder Award (Germany).
Lamentate for piano and orchestra, subtitled Homage to Anish Kapoor and his sculpture Marsyas.
Premiered in 2003 in London, in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern by Hélène Grimaud and the London Sinfonietta conducted by Alexander Briger.
Classic Brit Award – Contemporary Music Award for Orient & Occident
Honorary title of Borderlander given by the Borderland Foundation and a one-week festival in Sejny, Poland, dedicated to Pärt’s work.
In principio, commissioned by the Graz-Seckau Espicopacy for the programme Graz 2003 – Cultural Capital of Europe.
Premiered by Pro Musica Graz choir and Capella Istropolitana, conducted by Michael Fendre.
L’abbé Agathon, composed as a joint commission for l’Association l’Octour de Violoncelles and Recontres d’Ensembles de Violoncelles de Beauvais.
Premiered in Beauvais by Barbara Hendricks and the Beauvais Cello Octet.
La Sindone, composed as a commission for the Settembre Musica festival for the Olympic Winter Games 2006 in Turin.
Premiered in Turin Cathedral by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Olari Elts.
Reinstated as a member of the Estonian Composers’ Union.
European Church Music Award (Germany).
Composer of the Year honorary title by Musical America magazine.
First class Order of the National Coat of Arms of the Estonian Republic.
CD Da pacem (Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, conductor by Paul Hillier; Harmonia Mundi) won a Grammy Award in the category of Best Choral Performance.
Honorary Doctorate in Theology from Freiburg University (Germany).
International Brückepreis award from the Town of Europe, Görlitz/Zgorzelec.
Léonie Sonning Music Prize (Denmark) – Pärt composed These words… for the award ceremony as a commission for the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation.
The work was premiered in Copenhagen by the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste.
Symphony No. 4 (Los Angeles).
Premiered in 2009 in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, USA, by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Stabat Mater, new version for mixed choir and string orchestra, composed as a commission for the Tonkünsler Orchestra of Lower Austria.
Premiered in Musikverein Vienna by Tonküstler Orchestra and Wiener Singverein, conducted by Kristjan Järvi.
Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, First Class.
Cultural award of the Republic of Estonia for long-term distinguished activity.
Returned to live in Estonia.
The Arvo Pärt Centre and the composer’s personal archive established in Laulasmaa, Estonia.
Adam’s Lament, commissioned by the Cultural Capital Istanbul 2010 and Tallinn 2011.
Premiered in Hagia Irene church and concert hall, Istanbul, by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Vox Clamantis and Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste.
Lifetime Achievement Award from the 38th International Istanbul Music Festival.
Celebrations of Pärt’s 75th birthday include three international conferences.
Arvo Pärt and Contemporary Spirituality Conference at Boston University, Arvo Pärt: Soundtrack of an Age at London’s Southbank Centre and The Cultural Roots of Arvo Pärt’s Music at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
The first Arvo Pärt festival weeks during Nargenfestival; from 2011 the event is organised under the title Arvo Pärt Days.
Classic Brit Award – Composer of the Year honorary title for Symphony No. 4.
Honorary Doctorate of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music, Vatican.
Chevalier degree of the French Order of the Legion of Honour.
First ever Academician for Music by the Estonian Academy of Sciences.
Member of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Vatican.
Virgencita, for mixed choir a cappella.
Premieres in León, Guanajuato and Mexico City by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste. Award from the Cervantino International Festival, Mexico.
Estonian Music Council Composition Award.
Honorary Doctorate in Theology from University of Lugano (Switzerland).
During the 2013/2014 academic year, Pärt was Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Tartu.
Professor Toomas Siitan’s had a lecture series on Arvo Pärt - Word and Music - at the University of Tartu.
CD Adam’s Lament won a Grammy Award in the category of Best Choral Performance.
Premiered by Sinfonietta Riga, Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tui Hirv, Rainer Vilu, conductor Tõnu Kaljuste; ECM.
Swansong, new version of Littlemore Tractus for orchestra, composed as a commission for the Mozartwoche festival.
Premiered at the festival in Salzburg by Vienna Philharmonics conducted by Marc Minkowski.
Arvo Pärt Project: concerts of Arvo Pärt’s works in Washington and New York’s Carnegie Hall and Metropolitan Museum.
Performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and Yxus Ensemble, conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste.
Honorary Doctorate from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, USA.
Honorary membership of the International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM).
Praemium Imperiale cultural award from the Japan Art Association.
Premiere of a stage production by Robert Wilson based on the music of Arvo Pärt in Noblessner Foundry, Tallinn.
Music director and conductor Tõnu Kaljuste. The stage production is based on Pärt’s Adam’s Lament, Tabula rasa and Miserere entwined with Sequentia composed specifically for this production.
Songs from Childhood, the Archive project of the Arvo Pärt Centre.
In cooperation with Estonian Public Broadcasting, Children’s Music Studio of Estonian Radio, Tauno Aints (arranger) and Kadri Hunt (conductor), which resulted in a CD and sheet music for Arvo Pärt’s children’s songs.
Kleine Litanei for mixed choir a cappella.
Commissioned by Wien Museum for the reopening of the Chapel of St. Virgil beneath Stephansplatz, performed by the Arnold Schoenberg Choir conducted by Erwin Ortner.
First Class Cross of Merit of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Austrian Decoration for Science and Art.
Greater Antiphons, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
Premiered at the Mozart & Pärt Festival in Los Angeles by LA Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
Honorary Doctorate from the University of Oxford.
Pontifical Council for Culture (Poland) medal Per Arte ad Deum.
Four-day conference Arvo Pärt. Sounding the Sacred in New York.
Organised by St. Valdimir’s Orthodox Seminary and the Fordham University’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center.
Arvo Pärt awarded the Ratzinger Prize (Vatican).
At the presentation of which the composer had the opportunity to meet both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
And I heard a voice… / Ja ma kuulsin hääle… for mixed choir a cappella, commissioned by the University of Salamanca and the Spanish National Music Development Office.
Premiered in February 2018 in Salamanca by Ars Nova Copenhagen ensemble conducted by Paul Hillier. The most recent composition in Arvo Pärt’s list of works.
Weekend dedicated to Arvo Pärt’s music in the Flagey Concert House in Brussels to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia
Opening of the new building of the Arvo Pärt Centre in Laulasmaa in October.