The following interview with Arvo Pärt was conducted at the composer’s home at Mustamäe, November 28, 1978. Filmed by Andres Sööt, the dialogue (at times, Arvo’s wife Eleonora seconds his husband behind the screen) and the rehearsal of the soon-to-be-premiered ‘Italian Concerto’ at the concert hall “Estonia” became the basis for the film-portrait entitled, suitably, “Arvo Pärt in November 1978”. The conversation, which lasted more than an hour (for the transcription of which we thank Jaak Elling), has been edited in order to make it more readable. Text from the actual film is in italics.
In February 1980, Arvo Pärt moved abroad with his family. His music stayed in his homeland as did two films by Andres Sööt about him: “Arvo Pärt in November 1978” (Eesti Telefilm, 1978) and “Fantasy C-dur” (Eesti Telefilm, 1979), which haven’t been aired since the name and the compositions of Arvo were banned in Estonia.
Ivalo Randalu: I remember when you came [to the conservatory] in 1954 you had lots of blank sheets with you and you began to write a violin concerto. Then you had a very beautiful prelude a la Rachmaninov cis-moll, which you threw away after a year. You always changed, new qualities emerged. It led to your first symphony in your second year at the conservatory. And all those collages at that time. And then you had to turn again. What was it that made you change so much and move on?
Arvo Pärt: I think maybe the ideals that escort and accompany a human being in his life. Or let’s say – teachers, if we can say so. One has several teachers. One teacher can be the present and the people surrounding him – let’s say some school teachers belong there. At some period of time, a human is like inside these conditions and tuned to them. And then suddenly you discover another teacher for yourself – say, the past; great men of the past; all the cultural treasures of the past. It can happen that he becomes blind to all other things and fixes his view on the past only. And this certainly influences a man, gives a new tinge to his actions. Plus, there maybe exists the greatest teacher of all, I mean, the future – or let’s say, conscience. View yourself – what you’d really like to be. What you aren’t, but how you’d like to see yourself. We can say, it’s like a future we want to arrive at. Is that clear enough? Like an animal or, say, a little child chooses food.
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