Arvo Pärt: Transcendence in the Heart of Secularity (thesis)
Day, Roger T., Jr. (Thomas)
Washington and Lee University -- Honors in Religion
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Thesis; [FULL-TEXT FREELY AVAILABLE ONLINE]Roger T. Day, Jr. (Thomas) is a member of the Class of 2015 of Washington and Lee University.In this project, I examine the common phenomenon of experiencing the spiritual within secular music. In particular, I focus upon the mystical minimalist music of contemporary Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt. By exploring why his secular, instrumental tintinnabuli works are considered sacred in today’s disenchanted world, I shed light upon how to frame questions surrounding the sacred in music which must include both concerns with the external events surrounding his music and the music itself. After tracing Pärt’s history, considerations in Western music history, the disenchantment thesis, and the current state of transcendence, I establish a comprehensive picture surrounding the creation and reception of his tintinnabuli works. I compile all of this information into a cohesive whole to conclude that Pärt’s music provides a sense of timelessness in its relation to Western tonal music that allows its recipients to experience what they call a transcendent, spiritual encounter.