Arvo Pärt, Te Deum

Pärt is arguably the most renowned of the Eastern European holy minimalists: he composes sacred music, generally using only the human voice, and using as little sound as possible.

It sounds like the end of the world– in a (somehow) reassuring sense….

I’ve been listening to Te Deum regularly since 1994, when I read about him in some magazine whose name I forget.

Don’t get me wrong: I love (in the fullest, truest sense of the word) several albums: Master of Puppets, Live at Birdland, Operation: Mindcrime, Live at the Village Vanguard… but if I had to pick just one, to have and to hold– it would be Te Deum.

It is massive, yet light… somber, yet joyous… full of mystery, yet quite straightforward….

And there are many other Part works that are nearly as good… but that are just. not. this.

It’s beyond words. It’s your faith, no matter what it is (this is obviously a Christian piece, but I’m a practicing Zen Buddhist– it’s the obvious piety to which I’m attracted) in musical form….

Listen to these in a dark room with no distractions. If you like, buy.

It makes me weep. It makes me feel that positions less than prostrate are disrespectful and failing….

Te Deum is why music exists.


  1. Quote.
    But you’d have to listen the “Cantus In Memory Of Benjamin Britten” in Arvo Part’s “Tabula Rasa”: a single phrase, but all the music in the world is there. Simply incredible.

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