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This piece is Pärt's tribute to Benjamin Britten who died in 1976. Arvo Pärt: In the past years we have had many losses in the world of music to mourn. Why did the date of Benjamin Britten's death - 4 December 1976 - touch such a chord in me? During this time I was obviously at the point where I could recognize the magnitude of such a loss. Inexplicable feelings of guilt, more than that even, arose in me. I had just discovered Britten for myself. Just before his death I began to appreciate the unusual purity of his music - I had had the impression of the same kind of purity in the ballads of Guillaume de Machaut. And besides, for a long time I had wanted to meet Britten personally - and now it would not come to that.
'The last chord of Cantus is seemingly never-ending. It just stands there, neither growing nor decaying. Something has been achieved and it shouldn't be given up. The content of the whole work leads up to this point.' Nora Pärt