Works

The Beatitudes

1990 / 1991

Scored for

mixed choir (SATB) and organ

Duration

7 min

Short description

The Beatitudes for mixed choir or soloists and organ, composed in 1990 and revised in 1991, is one of the first works in which the composer uses the English language.

The composition is based on the text from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew – a passage of blessings (5:3–12), from which godly virtues are highlighted line by line.

Due to the language, the length of the words results in a recital style; however, an original way has been found to transfer the meaning of the text. Each clause between punctuation marks is performed in a different harmonic key. At the same time, the chord sequences are subject to a specific rule. In the course of the composition, the central pitch of the recitation constantly rises, increasing the tension. Having reached its …

The Beatitudes for mixed choir or soloists and organ, composed in 1990 and revised in 1991, is one of the first works in which the composer uses the English language.

The composition is based on the text from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew – a passage of blessings (5:3–12), from which godly virtues are highlighted line by line.

Due to the language, the length of the words results in a recital style; however, an original way has been found to transfer the meaning of the text. Each clause between punctuation marks is performed in a different harmonic key. At the same time, the chord sequences are subject to a specific rule. In the course of the composition, the central pitch of the recitation constantly rises, increasing the tension. Having reached its peak, the process reverses after the organ cadenza, and all performed harmonic combinations are repeated, this time in reverse order, moving back to the starting point.

The work was commissioned by the RIAS (Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor) radio station in Berlin and it is dedicated to Hildegard Curth, the long-standing music editor and critic at RIAS. At its premiere on 25 May 1990 in Berlin’s Nathanielkirche, it was performed by the Theatre of Voices vocal ensemble and organist Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, conducted by Paul Hillier.

World premiere

25.05.1990
Nathanaelkirche, Berlin, Germany

Composer's recital: Geistliches Konzert mit neuen Kompositionen von Arvo Pärt

Paul Hillier (conductor), Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ), Theatre of Voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass)

Completion year

1990

Revision year

1991

Dedication

to Hildegard Curth

Commissioned by

RIAS (Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor; English: Broadcasting in the American Sector)

Scored for

mixed choir (SATB) and organ

Duration

7 min

Publishers

Universal Edition

Language

English

Vocal text

Matthew 5, 3–12

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you
and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven:
for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Amen.

Opening hours of the Centre: Wed-Sun 12:00 – 18:00.

Shop