Works

Für Lennart in memoriam

2006

Scored for

string orchestra

Duration

7 min

Short description

Für Lennart in memoriam for string orchestra was composed in the beginning of 2006 at the request of Lennart Meri. The former President of Estonia had wished that music composed by Pärt would be played at his memorial service.

Arvo Pärt and Lennart Meri knew each other from their youth. In the 1960s they were colleagues at Estonian Radio, where Pärt worked in the music department and Meri in radio theatre. Later in life their paths crossed many times, albeit briefly. “I believe now we would be much more similar than at a younger age, certainly,” Pärt has said.

When starting to compose the piece, Pärt’s thoughts turned to the 6th ode of the a cappella choir piece Kanon pokajanen that became the core of the instrumental composition Für Lennart in …

Für Lennart in memoriam for string orchestra was composed in the beginning of 2006 at the request of Lennart Meri. The former President of Estonia had wished that music composed by Pärt would be played at his memorial service.

Arvo Pärt and Lennart Meri knew each other from their youth. In the 1960s they were colleagues at Estonian Radio, where Pärt worked in the music department and Meri in radio theatre. Later in life their paths crossed many times, albeit briefly. “I believe now we would be much more similar than at a younger age, certainly,” Pärt has said.

When starting to compose the piece, Pärt’s thoughts turned to the 6th ode of the a cappella choir piece Kanon pokajanen that became the core of the instrumental composition Für Lennart in memoriam. This beautiful canon prayer in church Slavonic refers to the sea (meri – “sea” in Estonian) as a symbol and is used at funeral services. In the middle section of the composition, Pärt has used a short prayer for the dead by Archimandrite Sophrony (1896–1993).

As is characteristic of many of Pärt’s vocal and some of his instrumental pieces, the text has been set to music considering the accent, the number of syllables in the words and other parameters in order to achieve a speech-like flow and a sense of phrase in the music that leaves space for natural breathing. “These prayers are for everyone, like prayers for the dead, the loved ones and strangers. When writing a piece like that you are like someone’s warden,” says Pärt.

The composition was first performed at Lennart Meri’s funeral service on 26 March 2006, at St Charles’ Church, by the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste.

Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Tõnu Kaljuste (conductor). CD In Principio. ECM New Series 2050

© ECM Records

World premiere

26.03.2006
Charles's Church, Tallinn, Estonia

Funeral Service of President Lennart Meri

Tallinn Chamber Orchestra , Tõnu Kaljuste (conductor)

Completion year

2006

Commissioned by

former Estonian President Lennart Meri (for his own funeral)

Scored for

string orchestra

Duration

7 min

Publishers

Universal Edition

Source text

Hymn sung at Orthodox funeral and memorial service, also featured in the Canon of Repentance (Irmos of Ode VI):

Житейское море, воздвизаемое зря напастей бурею, к тихому пристанищу Твоему притек, вопию Ти: возведи от тли живот мой, Многомилостиве.

Beholding the sea of life surging with the tempest of temptations, I run to Thy calm haven, and cry unto Thee: Raise up my life from corruption, O Greatly-merciful One.


Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov):

Господи Иисусе Христе,
аще и согрешаем в безумии нашем без меры и счета,
Но Ты, Господи Иисусе Христе, Свет безначальный и благости бездна сый,
помилуй и ущедри нас,
и даждь вечный покой усопшим отцем и братием нашим;
молит Ти ся, услыши и помилуй.

O Lord Jesus Christ, though in our folly we sin countless times beyond measure, yet Thou, O Lord Jesus Christ, Who art the Light without beginning and a bottomless ocean of goodnes…
Hymn sung at Orthodox funeral and memorial service, also featured in the Canon of Repentance (Irmos of Ode VI):

Житейское море, воздвизаемое зря напастей бурею, к тихому пристанищу Твоему притек, вопию Ти: возведи от тли живот мой, Многомилостиве.

Beholding the sea of life surging with the tempest of temptations, I run to Thy calm haven, and cry unto Thee: Raise up my life from corruption, O Greatly-merciful One.


Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov):

Господи Иисусе Христе,
аще и согрешаем в безумии нашем без меры и счета,
Но Ты, Господи Иисусе Христе, Свет безначальный и благости бездна сый,
помилуй и ущедри нас,
и даждь вечный покой усопшим отцем и братием нашим;
молит Ти ся, услыши и помилуй.

O Lord Jesus Christ, though in our folly we sin countless times beyond measure, yet Thou, O Lord Jesus Christ, Who art the Light without beginning and a bottomless ocean of goodness, have mercy upon us and be gracious unto us, and grant eternal rest to our fathers who have departed this life, We pray Thee hear and have mercy. O Lord Jesus Christ ...

Translation by Nikolai Sakharov

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