World première of Arvo Pärt's Silhouette

Reading time: 2 min. world première Arvo Pärt

What does Arvo Pärt have to do with the Eiffel Tower in Paris? The answer can be heard in Paris on 4 Nov: Paavo Järvi conducts the Orchestre de Paris in the première of Silhouette for string orchestra and percussion. Silhouette is, as the subtitle suggests, an homage to Gustave Eiffel.

Pärt about his work:

The first impulse to write this work came from my spontaneous reaction to Paavo Järvi’s first-class interpretations of my work, which I had heard on one of his CDs. I called him immediately to tell him of my enthusiasm, and discovered that he was about to take on the new role as chief conductor of the Orchestre de Paris. I was filled with the irresistible urge to write something for this occasion, for his “new orchestra”. In the course of the telephone call it emerged that Paavo Järvi’s agreed. I immediately thought of Gustave Eiffel and his work, of an homage to a great architect. I was very happy to hear that the orchestra reacted positively to my idea.

A splendid book of illustrations of the plans and blueprints for the tower lay on my desk, captivating me. I was impressed and inspired in many different ways by Eiffel’s artistic vision, by his combination of sober rationality and elegance. From the perspective of a composer Eiffel’s tower has many features which are comparable to the structure of a piece of music – the connections between the structural elements, the transparency of the construction, and much more. Even stasis, such an important aspect of architecture, is also a key element of a piece of music.

As regards my work Silhouette, the piece came out short and light, like a dance, a waltz, something dizzying – perhaps like the winds which caress this pointed colossus.

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