Arvo Pärt (arr. Briner)
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
Horn in F I-II
(percussion detail desired)
None discovered thus far.
For thirty-five years the Estonian-born composer Arvo Pärt has occupied a prominent place among composers of what has been termed “holy minimalist” music. After early flirtations with serialism (which were criticized by the Soviet authorities), Pärt began to study Bach and to incorporate some neo-Baroque elements into his works. This in turn led to his exploration of music made from materials of the greatest simplicity.
Pärt began to immerse himself in medieval and Renaissance chant and polyphonic music—the title of this work, Fratres (Brothers) suggests monastic meditations -- and he started to focus on the mystical energy born of the simultaneous sounding of notes. By 1976 he had found the essence of the style that has been his hallmark ever since: a technique he calls “tintinnabuli,” referring to bell-like resonances. Pärt said:
“Tintinnabulation is an area I sometimes wander into when I am searching for answers -- in my life, my music, my work ... The complex and many-faceted only confuses me, and I must search for unity. What is it, this one thing, and how do I find my way to it?
“I am alone with silence. I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played. This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me. I work with very few elements -- with one voice, with two voices. I build with the most primitive materials -- with the triad, with one specific tonality. The three notes of a triad are like bells. And that is why I call it tintinnabulation.”
The tintinnabuli principle is central to Fratres. The three-part theme is repeated at successively lower pitch levels and in alternation with its inversion, as the work slowly and meditatively proceeds to its inevitable conclusion. A drone on A and E is sustained through the entire ten-minute piece as an unwavering foundation. Everything progresses slowly, and the volume swells halfway through and then sinks back to near-silence.
After Fratres was premiered in 1977, Pärt created or authorized new arrangements or elaborations over the course of many years. At last count, his publisher listed sixteen different versions for a wide variety of forces.
- Program Notes by University of Maryland Wind Orchestra concert program, 12 July 2015
- Fratres has been recommended as interesting, serious and distinctive music by members of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE).
- Audio: Reference recording. Ensemble and conductor unknown
- Audio CD: Hungarian State Opera Orchestra (Tamás Benedek, conductor) - 1997
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.) Wind Ensemble (Joseph Higgins, conductor) - 11 March 2021
- North Dakota State University (Fargo) Wind Symphony (Wayne Olfert, conductor) - 19 October 2020
- University of Wisconsin-Madison Wind Ensemble (Scott Teeple, conductor; Soh-Hyun Park Altino, violin) – 5 December 2019
- Penn State University (State College) Recital Ensemble (Jacob Bender, conductor) 27 January 2019
- Florida State University (Talahassee) Chamber Winds(Richard Clary, conductor) – 19 February 2018
- University of Maryland Wind Orchestra (Michael Votta, Jr., conductor) – 12 July 2015 - WASBE Conference, San Jose, Calif.
- Lux Musicae (E. Emmanual Godoy, conductor) – 14 November 2014
Works for Winds by This Composer
- "FRATRES (for Wind Octet and Percussion) and ARBOS (for Brass Octet and Percussion) by Arvo Pärt (Estonia." WASBE. Web. (Featured as WASBE’s Composition of the Week, 2 November 2020). Accessed 14 January 2023
- Pärt, A.; Brinner, B. (1989). Fratres : für Bläseroktett und Schlagzeug (1977) [score]. Universal Edition: Vienna.