The Theology of the Word Underlying the Creativity of Arvo Pärt

Deacon Nikita Andrejev

To understand a person or a work of art, one must perceive their underlying motivational principle, the “account” of why they exist, their logos, the ancient Greeks would say. In the case of Arvo Pärt, great importance is placed on the logos, the “word” or text structuring and determining the musical composition. The approach is to some degree foundational for any music which does not set out to fight the “word” and with that, perhaps, the “account” of the way things are in the cosmos. Yet this procedure has been espoused by Pärt with especial thoroughness and religiosity. It is intimately tied up with the potent notion presented in the prologue of St John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word…”

Pärt has said: “I am convinced that sound should also speak of what the Word determines. The Word, which was in the beginning.” That this Word “was with God, and was God,” according to the Evangelist, suggests that the underlying logos or “reason” for things is not to be sought for in the realm of the ordinary, but in that of the divine. This presentation will attempt to elucidate in greater detail a few of the Christian spiritual notions connected with Logos which underlie the universality and truthfulness of Pärt’s approach. Perhaps this will give a further glimpse of the hidden motivation behind Pärt’s work and of the world view which is dear to the composer.

Join our newsletter