Estonia’s most famous contemporary composer, Arvo Pärt, premiered a new major symphony work in Los Angeles this past weekend dedicated to Mikhail Khodorkovsky (whom he calls “a great man”) and gives a nod to “all those imprisoned without rights in Russia.” The composer similarly dedicated all of his works between 2006-2007 to Anna Politkovskaya.
For those who haven’t heard of him, Arvo Pärt is world’s most celebrated contemporary composers, whose unique post-modern, transnational minimalist music (you could pick another dozen adjectives) has won him awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation. Born in Estonia in 1935, much discussion revolves around the impact of the repressive Soviet environment and the state censorship of Pärt’s early works (these works were banned by the Soviets for having been based on religious texts). Pärt ended up becoming one of those amazing artists to thrive despite Stalinism.
From the LA Times Culture Monster:
But now, 38 years after the Third Symphony, Pärt has written a
Fourth, labeled it “Los Angeles” and dedicated it to Mikhail
Khodorkovsky, a Russian oil executive with political ambitions who was
accused of fraud and now languishes in a Siberian prison. Pärt
explained in a program insert that he is also reaching out in this
symphony to “all those imprisoned without rights in Russia.” For the
composer, the symphony is meant as “carrier pigeon” he hopes might
“reach faraway Siberia one day.”
If not, at least the pigeon will have a nourished soul, because the
symphony is large — at 37 minutes considerably longer than the earlier
ones — and exceedingly beautiful. I found a carrier pigeon of my own
to send a question backstage to Pärt after the performance about the
meaning of the dedication. The composer called Khodorkovsky a great
man and said Russia would be a better country had the oligarch, once
Russia’s wealthiest man, become its leader.