Tabula Rasa (Arvo Pärt)

Tabula Rasa (Arvo Pärt)

Tabula Rasa is a piece of music composed by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt in 1977, scored for two violins, string orchestra, and prepared piano. Tabula Rasa, a philosophical concept, is Latin, roughly translating to “clean slate”. The first movement, called “Ludus”, revolves around a theme that is repeated throughout the movement, each time longer and more elaborated, building up to a climax at the end. The second movement, called “Silentium”, consists of a somber and ethereal part played on the violins, interspersed with haunting chords on the prepared piano, gradually thinning out and fading eventually into silence. The entire piece is approximately twenty-six minutes in length.

: "“To a certain extent, Tabula Rasa was Gidon Kremer’s suggestion. […] When the musicians saw the score, they cried out: ‘Where is the music?’ But then they went on to play it very well. It was beautiful; it was quiet and beautiful.”" - Arvo Pärt

The piece was written for and dedicated to Gidon Kremer, who premiered it in Tallinn, Estonia, in 1977, with Tatjana Grindenko playing second violin and Eri Klas playing prepared piano. The piece remains a cornerstone of Pärt’s repertoire, a well-loved work, and a pinnacle of the so-called Holy Minimalist movement.


*Pärt, Arvo. “Tabula Rasa”. ECM Records, ECM 1275, 1984.
*Pärt, Glass, Martynov. "Silencio". Nonesuch Records, 2000.

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