Arvo Pärt: L'abbé Agathon

Arvo Pärt L'abbé Agathon
L'abbé Agathon

Arvo Pärt: L'abbé Agathon

Year of composition:
Scored for:
for soprano and 8 violoncellos
Arvo Pärt
Original language:
Ellison Cori
Instrumentation details:
1st violoncello
2nd violoncello
3rd violoncello
4th violoncello
5th violoncello
6th violoncello
7th violoncello
8th violoncello
Commande de lAssociation l'Octuor de Violoncelles / Rencontres d'Ensembles de Violoncelles de Beauvais, France Création mondiale le 5 mai 2004 dans le cadre des Rencontres d'Ensembles de Violoncelles de Beauvais par Barbara Hendricks et l'Octuor de Violoncelles de Beauvais
More Less


L'abbé Agathon
L'abbé Agathon

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

The theme of this work, commissioned by l’Octuor de Violoncelles de Beauvais, is related to the moving story of the leper house of Saint Lazarus, the oldest leper hospital in northern Europe. The remains of the hospital, dating from the 12th century, lie close to Beauvais.

This cello octet have wanted a work from me for many years, but, for various reasons, I could never accept the commission. But when information about this leper colony was mentioned in other conversations, I pricked up my ears.

A sentence by Isaac of Syria suddenly occurred to me, that addresses the question of what absolute love is with the following answer: „Father Agathon knew this, he who was prepared to exchange his body with that of a leper.“

Naturally a composer is not capable of this, but nevertheless these words about Agathon have never left me.

Arvo Pärt (2004)

Arvo Pärt came across a legend concerning the patriarch Agathon, from the 4th century, in a book containing stories of The Desert Fathers. They take us back to the cradle of Christian monasticism, in the Egyptian desert, the narrative telling of the meeting between the hermit Agathon and the leper. Agathon is tested several times by the leper. Not until after he has passed these tests does the leper reveal himself as an angel sent by God, and blesses Agathon.

From our online shop

Special prints

L'abbé Agathon

Arvo Pärt: L'abbé Agathon

piano reduction
for soprano and 8 violoncellos , 15’

World première

Beauvais (FR)
Ensemble de Violoncelles de Beauvais
Main soloists:
Barbara Hendricks, soprano

Other works

Sign up for our newsletter!

You will regularly receive information about new scores with free downloads, current prize games and news about our composers.