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Works

Stabat Mater

2008

Scored for

mixed choir (SAT) and string orchestra

Duration

20–25 min

Short description

Stabat Mater (1985) composed for soprano, countertenor (or alto), tenor, violin, viola, and cello, was commissioned by the Alban Berg Foundation in celebration of Alban Berg’s 100th anniversary, for which ten composers were asked to write a piece for a string trio. To achieve a better balance, Arvo Pärt had the idea to use two trios in his work: an instrumental and vocal trio.

Building upon the trochaic rhythm of the text, the relationship between long and short syllables became the key element of the music. Derived from a text in a liturgical sequence, where the grieving Mother of God is crying next to her crucified son’s cross, the composer has described the piece as follows: “It is just like the contact of opposing elements, for instance lava erupting from a volcan…

Stabat Mater (1985) composed for soprano, countertenor (or alto), tenor, violin, viola, and cello, was commissioned by the Alban Berg Foundation in celebration of Alban Berg’s 100th anniversary, for which ten composers were asked to write a piece for a string trio. To achieve a better balance, Arvo Pärt had the idea to use two trios in his work: an instrumental and vocal trio.

Building upon the trochaic rhythm of the text, the relationship between long and short syllables became the key element of the music. Derived from a text in a liturgical sequence, where the grieving Mother of God is crying next to her crucified son’s cross, the composer has described the piece as follows: “It is just like the contact of opposing elements, for instance lava erupting from a volcano, flowing into the water. It seems impossible that such different elements would ever meet; however, in this piece this is exactly what happens. The text presents us the simultaneous existence of immeasurable pain of this event and potential consolation.”

Stabat Mater premiered at a concert of Pärt’s works at the Berg-Berio-Fest in the Vienna Concert Hall on 30 October 1985, performed by the Hilliard Ensemble and a string trio consisting of Gidon Kremer (violin), Nobuko Imai (viola) and David Geringas (cello). Another version of the piece was created for mixed choir (SAT) and string orchestra in 2008, commissioned by the Tonkünstler Orchestra of Lower Austria, conducted by Kristjan Järvi at Vienna Musikverein on 12 June 2008.

World premiere

12.06.2008
Musikverein, Vienna, Austria

Concert: Festwochenkonzert

Kristjan Järvi (conductor), Johannes Prinz (choirmaster), Choir of the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna, Tonkunstler Orchestra

Completion year

2008

Original version

1985

Commissioned by

Tonkünstler Orchestra (Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich)

Scored for

mixed choir (SAT) and string orchestra

Duration

20–25 min

Publishers

Universal Edition

Language

Latin

Vocal text

Liturgical sequence, 13th-century Catholic hymn to Mary

Stabat Mater dolorosa
juxta crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

Cujus animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta
Mater Unigeniti!

Quae maerebat et dolebat,
et tremebat dum videbat
nati poenas incliti.

Quis est homo, qui non fleret,
Christi Matrem si videret
in tanto supplicio?

Quis non posset contristari,
piam Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Jesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum.

Vidit suum dulcem natum,
morientem desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eja Mater, fons amoris,
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in am…
Liturgical sequence, 13th-century Catholic hymn to Mary

Stabat Mater dolorosa
juxta crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

Cujus animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta
Mater Unigeniti!

Quae maerebat et dolebat,
et tremebat dum videbat
nati poenas incliti.

Quis est homo, qui non fleret,
Christi Matrem si videret
in tanto supplicio?

Quis non posset contristari,
piam Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Jesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum.

Vidit suum dulcem natum,
morientem desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eja Mater, fons amoris,
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum,
ut sibi complaceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

Tui nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
poenas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

Juxta crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.

Virgo virginum praeclara,
mihi jam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere.

Fac ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere.

Fac me plagis vulnerari
cruce fac inebriari
et cruore Filii.

Inflammatus et accensus
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die judicii.

Fac me cruce custodiri,
morte Christi praemuniri,
confoveri gratia!

Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animae donetur
paradisi gloria.

Amen.

***

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother's pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
be Thy Mother my defense,
be Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.

Amen.

On June 22, the Centre is open until 4.00 p.m., on June 23, the Centre is closed. Happy Victory Day and Midsummer to everyone!

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