Arvo Pärt: Dopo la vittoria

Arvo Pärt Dopo la vittoria
Dopo la vittoria

Arvo Pärt: Dopo la vittoria

Year of composition:
Piccola cantata
Scored for:
for mixed choir a cappella
Arvo Pärt
Table of contents:
Dopo la vittoria (für gemischten Chor a cappella)
Auftragswerk der Stadt Mailand anlässlich der 1600-Jahrfeier zum Tode des heiligen Ambrosius, 1997
to Sandro Boccardi, Tõnu Kaljuste and the Swedish Radio Choir
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Dopo la vittoria

Work introduction

Commissioned by the City of Milan on occasion of the 1600th anniversary of the death of St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan.

"It's almost six years that Sando Boccardi, head of the Music Department in the Cultural Centre of the City of Milan, suggested a composition for the St. Ambrose anniversary 1997.

Searching for a suitable subject I originally turned to the St. Ambrose hymns. For some reason they did not inspire me to begin with the composition in question. Gradually I grew to believe I was not able to fulfil this particular task without writing a completely new Te Deum. Throughout this difficult process Mr Boccardi was of exceptional patience towards me.

I was still looking for the adequate text when by chance I discovered an old church music encyclopaedia written in Russian. In it I found  the story of St. Ambrose and the scene of St. Augustine's baptizing performed by Ambrose. This description fascinated me, and my decision was made promptly: This was to become my text, I wanted to set to music the original version in the way it had been written down in the encyclopaedia. So I used the unaltered Russian text and took its first line to become the title of my work. Its phrasing, dating from the year 1903, sounded to me almost like a poem in prose.

The depiction itself has the form of a short two-person scenario. Ambrose baptizing Augustine. What I found particularly special and unusual in this story is the fact that Ambrose, whilst the ceremony was in full swing, began to sing this Te Deum and Augustine joined in, easily continuing the chant as if he had known it forever. And by singing antiphonally they finished off the Te Deum. I was fascinated and deeply influenced by this scene with two giants of Western culture and Christianity full of spontaneous joy and inspiration, and now felt able to accomplish the commissioned work for the City of Milan in a relatively short time.

And this is also the reason for me, that after having had a long record of preoccupation with the Ambrose story, I decided not to write a whole new Te Deum, as originally planned; instead I chose to set to music a particular incident in the long history of the Te Deum as a poetic form."

Arvo Pärt

The text of Dopo la Vittoria comes from the encyclopaedia "A Historical Survey of Ecclesiastical Singers and Songs" (author of the encyclopaedia: Archbishop Philaret, published in St. Petersburg in 1902).

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World première

Basilica di San Simpliciano, Milano (IT)
Tõnu Kaljuste

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