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Arvo Pärt (Oxford Studies of Composers) 1st edition by Hillier, Paul (1997)

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Review Text

  • By Tord Kalvenes on September 20, 2013

    Very well written! The writer tells both the story of the person and the composer in a splended and interesting way.

  • By William Carpenter on January 11, 2016

    This book gives a careful and close reading of Arvo Part's work through 1996. Paul Hillier pays particular attention to Part's tintinnabuli works and provides great technical information on how they are constructed. The book also includes some brief biographical notes and performance practice advice - especially useful coming from Hillier who has recorded many of Part's works.Much of the analysis is technical and makes use of two terms introduced by Hillier to explain Part's music: the M-voice (the melodic voice) and the T-voice (the tintinnabuli voice). I am often skeptical of new terminology but Hillier's terms really do help explain how Part's music works and what makes it so special. My only real criticism of the book is that neither term is included in the books index (for the record, they are defined on page 92)."Tintinabulli" refers to the bell-like quality of Part's work. While explaining this, Hillier incidentally includes the single clearest explanation of English change ringing that I have ever read.This is a scholarly but quite readable analysis of Part's music and is recommended to anyone that would like to better understand how Part's simple-sounding music can be so deeply moving.

  • By Mark Swinton on September 9, 2000

    Paul Hillier has been a leading exponent of Arvo Part's music for many years now, and this book is yet another delectable fruit of his relationship with the composer and his music.The book is divided into very neat chapters, giving a thorough and systematic break-down of Part's musical career- from his neo-classical student works to his early experiments with serialism (he was the first Estonian composer to write serial music); his period of silence when he sought a new, simpler means of self-expression; and finally his discovery of the "tintinnabuli" style. Paul Hillier's first encounter with Part was through performing his tintinnabuli works, thus the book focusses mostly on them. Performers and critics have often complained that the music is too simple; Hillier reveals that there is more to it than meets the eye, and in particular his descriptions of the large-scale cantatas such as "Passio" and "Miserere" make for solid reading. Impressively, Hillier does not neglect the earlier serial works such as "Nekrolog" and the controversial "Credo" - music that sounds almost like that of another composer. Perhaps disappointingly, he opts not to go into Part's biographical details beyond a basic account of his childhood musical experiences and the problems he faced for many years in his Soviet-annexed homeland. He does however explore Russian Orthodox views on music and minimalism, an understanding of which is helpful in developing an understanding of Part's music. Finally, he offers his ideas on performing it: an extremely well-written and useful chapter, as is the appendix which lists the key recordings of most of the tintinnabuli and some of the serial works.It takes some getting into: Hillier reveals himself to be a fine musicologist and makes some very detailed analyses, but many of the terms he uses can be baffling to the casual reader. Music students are thus the likeliest customers to benefit from the purchase of this book. As a music student myself, I find this book 'un-put-downable'!

  • By Guest on April 1, 2000

    Paul Hillier is certainly qualified to write a book about the music of Arvo Part. Not only is Hillier a brilliant musician in his own right, but he has collaborated with Part many times in the last decade or so to produce many splendid recordings as well as giving many world premier concert performances of Part's work. Here we are given "an insider view" on how this music was written. Short of Part writing a book himself, this is the closest a listener will ever get to being inside the mind of this enigmatic, quite, reserved and extremely gifted composer. There is only about 10 pages or so devoted to biography, the rest is purely about the music. Hillier's explanations of the pieces are so thorough that one can literally read along with the book while listening to the corresponding piece of music and never get lost. Hillier has done a splendid job with the writing because it is quite technical and will certainly give musicians and other composers insight into Part's structural ideas. The crowning achievement though is that the book can also be read (with only slight difficulty) by those that have no musical training. I can't read music or play any instruments, and I seldom felt lost while reading, despite the technical terminology (one can pick up a lot from context.)The only problem with the book is that it was published in 1997, so it doesn't have commentary on his newest works like "Kanon Pokjanen." That one flaw, however, is tiny and can be easily overlooked in light of it valuble insight into the world and music of Arvo Part.


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