Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten (5:07)

Cover of Tabula Rasa

From Tabula Rasa and 11 other releases

Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten is a short canon in A minor, written in 1977 by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt, for string orchestra and bell. The work is an early example of Pärt’s tintinnabuli style, which he based on his reactions to early chant music. Its appeal is often ascribed to its relative simplicity; a single melodic motif dominates and it both begins and ends with scored silence. However, as the critic Ivan Hewett observes, while it “may be simple in concept…the concept produces a tangle of lines which is hard for the ear to unravel. And even where the music really is simple in its audible features, the expressive import of those features is anything but.” A typical performance lasts about six and a half minutes.
The cantus was composed as an elegy to mourn the December 1976 death of the English composer Benjamin Britten. Pärt greatly admired Britten, whom he described as possessing the “unusual purity” that he himself sought as a composer. Pärt viewed the Englishman as a kindred spirit; however, he gained access to the latter’s music only in 1980, after emigrating from Soviet Estonia to Austria, four years after Britten had died. When Britten died, Pärt felt that he had lost hope of meeting the only contemporary composer whose musical outlook, he believed, resembled his own.
Although Pärt is known primarily for his religious music, Cantus is a fully secular work, in that it forms a spare lament to a fellow composer not based on biblical texts. It is perhaps Pärt’s most popular piece, and a 1997 recording by the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra conducted by Tamas Benedekand has been widely distributed.

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  • mgkballet

    ohhhhhhhhh

    31 Mar 5:00am Reply
  • radio_face

    nice song

    26 Mar 1:19pm Reply
  • CINSE7EN

    به نام مرگ که با شمایلی زخم خورده از میان ظلمتِ راه و نشیبِ دشت خود را به فراز رساند و ناقوس را به صدا درآورد.

    24 Jan 9:23pm Reply
  • achromes

    :,')

    12 Jan 5:07pm Reply
  • elli___

    hypnotising!

    12 Nov 2013 Reply
  • zapatosgrandes

    in memory of my beloved big brother

    7 Aug 2013 Reply
  • LordofMordor74

    Calling Instrumental pieces songs? Oh gosh, the horror of it all

    12 Mar 2013 Reply
  • StuartHaden1

    I agree with BamBino 1951. Excellent work of art. I just don't understand why people continuously refer to instrumental works as songs. Not just in reference to this selection but across the musical spectrum. Has the devolution of modern grammar left me that far behind in the dust? They are probably young US citizens brain washed by TV and social media.

    10 Mar 2013 Reply
  • kgkeller

    Absolutely Beautiful music....nothing more to be said about it!!!

    30 Jan 2013 Reply
  • yug23

    play this at my funeral please

    13 Dec 2012 Reply
  • YoFaaaWay

    SO MANY FEELS

    25 Sep 2012 Reply
  • nineteen90two

    this is without a doubt the best thing that exists, and there a lot of good existing things

    19 Jul 2012 Reply
  • Pulsars

    Is this my favorite song ever or what????

    18 Jun 2012 Reply
  • biltor

    Pura belleza de musique

    29 May 2012 Reply
  • bodevanlot

    Absolutely stunning.

    4 May 2012 Reply
  • welovefridays

    Ever evolving

    26 Apr 2012 Reply
  • Kanazawa01

    Compassion and suffering aren't so far apart when listening to this... :)

    11 Mar 2012 Reply
  • Tom_Pullings

    Spellbound by gloom. ...Sigh...

    19 Jan 2012 Reply
  • LordofMordor74

    What a great piece

    29 Nov 2011 Reply
  • BamBino1951

    Excellent work of art. I just don't understand why people continuously refer to instrumental works as songs. Not just in reference to this selection but across the musical spectrum. Has the devolution of modern grammar left me that far behind in the dust?

    19 Nov 2011 Reply
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