Arvo Pärt is an Estonian composer of classical and sacred music, whose compositions have won worldwide acclaim since the 1970s. He invented the compositional technique tintinnabuli and has worked in styles influenced by minimalism and Gregorian chant.
Pärt was born in Paide, Estonia and was raised in Rakvere in the northern part of the country. He attended Tallinn Music Middle School where his love for music flourished. He entered the military service and played oboe and percussion in the army band. He then went on the study at the Tallinn Conservatory where he took composition classes with Heino Eller. During his student years he produced music for film and stage and composed various works for choirs. After graduation, from 1957 to 1967, he worked as a sound producer for Estonian radio.
Arvo Pärt’s compositions can be divided into two periods. His early works were composed using neo-classicism, highly influenced by Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Bartok. He briefly turned to twelve-tone composition in the footsteps of Arnold Schoenberg, and was one of the first Soviet composers to do so, the evidence of which can be perceived in his Nekrolog of 1960. Part’s musical influences from outside the Soviet Union were only made possible by illegal tapes and scores. Many of his early works were banned by the Soviet censors, including his famous Credo for chorus, piano and orchestra, due to its religious title and its inspiration from religious texts.