Arvo Pärt's monographic concert in Paris.
Arvo Pärt’s monographic concert in Paris. Source: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt received two distinguished honours in Warsaw on Sunday and Monday.

On Sunday, Pärt was awarded the Gold Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis, the Republic of Poland’s highest award in the field of culture. The Gold Medal is the highest of the three classes thereof, and Pärt’s was presented to him by Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage Jaroslaw Sellin.

The Gloria Artis medal was presented to the Estonian composer at his monographic concert at the Rotunda Hall of the Museum of John Paul II Collection, where the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra performed under the conduction of Tõnu Kaljuste.

The programme included “Adam’s Lament,” “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten,” “Fratres,” “Salve Regina,” and “Te Deum.” Sunday’s concert was organised as a part of the Eufonie music festival, which was dedicated this year to the centennial of the Republic of Poland and whose guest of honour was Pärt himself. The festival also acknowledged the current centennials of other European countries, including Estonia.

On Monday, Pärt was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music, Poland’s oldest institution of higher education in music, for his outstanding musical achievements and the universal depth of his work. The honorary degree was awarded to Pärt by the university rector and professor Dr. Klaudiusz Baran, which was followed by a performance of “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten” by the Chopin University Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Rafał Janiak.

Later that evening, a monographic concert was held at the Chopin University of Music Concert Hall, where the Chopin University Chamber Orchestra performed “Tabula rasa,” “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten,” “Festina lente,” “Trisagion,” and “Concerto piccolo über B-A-C-H.”

13th honorary doctorate

Over the years, Pärt has earned a number of high honours, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters (USA, 1996), the Praemium Imperiale (Japan, 2014), and the Ratzinger Prize (Vatican, 2017), but also over a dozen honorary doctorates, including from both Estonian universities (Estonian Academy of Music, 1989, and University of Tartu, 1998) as well as distinguished universities abroad (University of Oxford, 2016, University of Durham, 2002, and University of Sydney, 1998).

This past week’s honours are also not the first Pärt has received from Poland. In 2007, he was awarded the International Brückepreis Award of the European City of Görlitz / Zgorzelec, and in 2016 he was awarded the Medal of the Pontifical Council for Culture “Per Arte ad Deum” by Pope John Paul II.