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The Spanish BBVA Foundation announced the laureate of the Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the field of music, the recipient of the award is composer Arvo Pärt.
The award is presented in eight categories to acknowledge outstanding achievements in the fields of natural sciences and technology, humanities and music. The name of the award refers to the fact that the laureates have managed to shift the frontiers of our knowledge of the world.
Arvo Pärt was presented with the award in the category of music and opera, which has previously been awarded to composers such as Steve Reich, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, Sofia Gubaidulina and Kaija Saariaho.
‘I am interested in simplicity because I find strength in it’, said Arvo Pärt. He is the most performed living composer in the annual statistics.
When Arvo Pärt founded his world fame in the mid-eighties with a single record (Tabula rasa, released by ECM), he made a slogan come true that label founder Manfred Eicher had coined, ‘The most beautiful sound next to silence’.
In fact, Pärt's music is written as close to silence as only the music of the American Morton Feldman is. But while Feldman pushed modernism to the limit of audibility, Pärt tried to get behind it, back into Gregorian chant, into a tonality never heard before – as if he wanted to break out of time altogether and find a place where beauty is simply possible and simplicity is beautiful.
The fact that this timeless beauty, which surrounds almost all of his works aurally, has touched us very directly also has to do with the fact that Pärt never engaged in hollow mantras, neither musically nor spiritually, ‘I am not a prophet, not a cardinal, not a monk. I am not even a vegetarian’, he said.
Pärt's music is deeply human. He was also awarded for this.