Works

Psalom

1995

Scored for

string orchestra

Duration

4–7 min

Short description

The instrumental miniature Psalom was initially composed as two-part music without specific instrumentation and was completed on the composer’s 50th birthday in 1985. Arvo Pärt revisited the sketches in 1991, when Universal Edition commissioned a piece for string quartet for the upcoming 90th birthday of its long-time leader, Alfred Schlee. Pärt had not composed in this genre since 1959, when he created a piece for string quartet as a student. The composition is dedicated to Alfred Schlee and was premiered by Arditti Quartet on November 1991 at the Konzerthaus Vienna at Schlee’s 90th birthday concert as part of the Wien Modern festival.

Another version of the work, composed in 1995 for string orchestra, was premiered in April 1995 by Kammerorchester Unter den Linden c…

The instrumental miniature Psalom was initially composed as two-part music without specific instrumentation and was completed on the composer’s 50th birthday in 1985. Arvo Pärt revisited the sketches in 1991, when Universal Edition commissioned a piece for string quartet for the upcoming 90th birthday of its long-time leader, Alfred Schlee. Pärt had not composed in this genre since 1959, when he created a piece for string quartet as a student. The composition is dedicated to Alfred Schlee and was premiered by Arditti Quartet on November 1991 at the Konzerthaus Vienna at Schlee’s 90th birthday concert as part of the Wien Modern festival.

Another version of the work, composed in 1995 for string orchestra, was premiered in April 1995 by Kammerorchester Unter den Linden conducted by Andreas Peer Kähler at a concert of Arvo Pärt’s works in Berlin. A version for eight cellos, on commission by Cello Octet Amsterdam, was created in 2010, and premiered the same year at the Vale of Glamorgan Music Festival in Wales.

Psalom is based on Psalm 112 (113) in Church Slavonic, which, like many other of Pärt’s instrumental pieces, precisely determines the course of music. The nine verses of the psalm are inscribed into music following strict tintinnabuli rules and composed as melodic sentences that are separated from one another by grand pauses, starting silently and fading into silence again. The melody is based on the tone row E-F-G#-A-B-C-D. The composer himself has described the musical material as follows: “The focus is on two elements – stressed and unstressed syllables. They have been given a musical value. The unstressed syllables have been assigned a one-voice melody line, while the stressed syllables are always marked with a third. These two elements exist regardless of the meaning of the word.”

Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, Saulius Sondeckis (conductor) . CD Litany. ECM New Series 1592

© ECM Records

World premiere

01.04.1995
Immanuel Church, Berlin, Germany

Composer's recital: Mein Weg hat Gipfel und Wellentäler ... Konzert mit Werken von Arvo Pärt

Andreas Peer Kähler (conductor), Chamber Orchestra Unter den Linden

Completion year

1995

Original version

1985

Dedication

to Alfred Schlee for birthday

Scored for

string orchestra

Duration

4–7 min

Publishers

Universal Edition

Source text

Psalm 113 "Praise ye the Lord, O ye servants of the Lord"

Хвалите, отроцы, Господа, хвалите имя Господне.
Буди имя Господне благословенно отныне и до века.
От восток солнца до запад хвально имя Господне.
Высок над всеми языки Господь: над небесы слава Его.
Кто яко Господь Бог наш? На высоких живый
и на смиренныя призираяй на небеси и на земли,
воздвизаяй от земли нища и от гноища возвышаяй убога,
посадити его с князи, с князи людей своих,
вселяя неплодовь в дом матерь о чадех веселящуся.

Псалом 112


Praise ye the Lord. Praise, O ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like unto the Lord our God,…
Psalm 113 "Praise ye the Lord, O ye servants of the Lord"

Хвалите, отроцы, Господа, хвалите имя Господне.
Буди имя Господне благословенно отныне и до века.
От восток солнца до запад хвально имя Господне.
Высок над всеми языки Господь: над небесы слава Его.
Кто яко Господь Бог наш? На высоких живый
и на смиренныя призираяй на небеси и на земли,
воздвизаяй от земли нища и от гноища возвышаяй убога,
посадити его с князи, с князи людей своих,
вселяя неплодовь в дом матерь о чадех веселящуся.

Псалом 112


Praise ye the Lord. Praise, O ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high,
Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!
He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;
That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.
He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.

Psalm 112 (113)

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