Arvo Pärt's "Berliner Messe": An Approach to Understanding and Instructing Serial Techniques in a Minimalist Framework
School of Music
Master of Arts in Music Education (MA)
Arvo Pärt, Berliner Messe, Minimalism, Music Education, Serialism
Music | Music Education
Miller, Jesse, "Arvo Pärt's "Berliner Messe": An Approach to Understanding and Instructing Serial Techniques in a Minimalist Framework" (2018). Masters Theses. 506.
The music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is something of a phenomenon. Pärt’s music has made a profound connection with audiences, granting Pärt immense popularity and making him the most performed living composer in the world.1 Equally a phenomenon is his own unique tintinnabuli technique that lies at the heart of Pärt’s music and draws as much upon serialism as it does Gregorian chant. While much has been written on Pärt and his original tintinnabuli technique, this qualitative case study focuses on a major work ostensibly overlooked in scholarship, Arvo Pärt’s “Berliner Messe.” The study focuses on the serial aspects of tintinnabuli and “Berliner Messe” that operate within a minimalist framework. In addition to traditional forms of musical analysis, non-traditional musical analyses pioneered by Pärt experts, such has Paul Hiller, are also employed. Additionally, attention is given to the relationship between text and music, metrical features of Pärt’s music, and a brief literature review is conducted in order to establish the context of “Berliner Messe.” The content of the analysis provides a better understanding of the construction of “Berliner Messe” while the methods of analysis determine whether previous analytical models are appropriate for “Berliner Messe.” Lastly, a determination of the educational value of “Berliner Messe” is made in teaching serialist and post-tonal concepts to students followed by recommendations for classroom applications.