Arvo Pärt ( ), born September 11, 1935 in Paide, Estonia, is an Estonian composer of music contemporary living in Tallinn. It is often associated with the minimalist music movement that began in the 1960s.
Arvo Pärt was born in Paide, a town about 90 km southeast of Tallinn. His parents divorced when he was only three years old and his mother took him to live with his new companion in Rakvere, northeast of Estonia. There, between the ages of seven and eight, he takes music lessons after school and learns the basics of piano and music theory. At home, he only has an old grand piano whose only extreme registers can be played properly; this drives him to experiment and to invent his own works.
As a teenager, Arvo Pärt listens to all kinds of music on the radio but is particularly interested in symphonic music. In particular, he listens to Finnish radio programs that could be heard quite clearly in northern Estonia. It is even said that it circled the city square while the symphonic concerts were broadcast via speakers>, by bike, so as not to remain static and not arouse suspicion>.
Although the piano is his favorite instrument and he sometimes plays in concert as accompanist, he also practices the oboe in the orchestra of his school, percussion in a dance group and sings in the choir of his school. Gradually, he spent improvisations on the keyboard to more formal compositions that he began to note around fourteen or fifteen years. At the age of seventeen, he presented Meloodia, a piece for piano that he composed for a competition of young artists. His piece is noticed but, probably because of a clear lack of roots or Estonian influences, he won no prize. Arvo Pärt recalls that she was in the style of Rachmaninov but that she was not personal.