Starry Sky (Arvo Pärt)

It was Arvo Pärt’s Arbos on the drive home tonight from Syracuse to NYC. With day light savings over, much of the commute back home to NYC from Syracuse is through the dark. A lot of Pärt’s music is psalms translated into German and set to high Slavonic church dudgeon. It’s monkish and monastic, distant and full of aura. If you are a sucker for minimalism and the spiritual in art, you’ll love Pärt. If you hate it, you probably won’t like it. Trumpets, organ, violin, basso profundo. Arbos alternates between portentous and plaintive. During one of the quieter violin pieces with long sad notes played out by Gidon Kremer, I think it was Es sang vor langen Jahren, a poem by the German romantic Clemens Brentano, zipping along at 70 mph down rt 380, a spur connecting Scranton and rt. 80 high up at higher elevation just before the plunge down into Delaware Gap, I looked out the window and saw a lot of stars. I don’t get to see a lot of starry sky. I’m either at home in the city or in my office working late at night. I pulled over to take a look. Like I said, I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff. By the end of the long Stabat Mater, I was ready to call it quits. On the CD notes, there’s this epigraph from Basho, The temple bell stops/but the sound keeps coming out of the flowers. Then, it was Shakira on Spanish radio for the rest of the trip through New Jersey flats into the city.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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2 Responses to Starry Sky (Arvo Pärt)

  1. Myron Joshua says:

    i too am a such a sucker…:)

  2. leakyink says:

    This is beautiful! I actually wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid. Love the stars!

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