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Pärt wrote Hymn to a Great City in 1984 as a gift to his friends Mirjam and William Miesse. The name of the city referred to in the title of this miniature is not clear, although it was initially associated with New York when it premiered there.
The composer left many of the questions unanswered which he had posed in connection with the work, causing him to withdraw it after the world premiere and leave it untouched until 1999. That was the year in which his creative dialogue and intensive work with pianists Johannes and Eduard Kutrowatz induced him to take up the Hymn to a Great City again, adding to it the maturity which, according to Pärt, would justify its reintegration into the concert repertoire.
Translation Copyright © 2012 by Grant Chorley