An Analysis of Cantus In Memoriam of Benjamin Britten

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Note: This is an essay I wrote during my University studies and is by no means a definitive guide to this excellent piece. Musical excerpts are for educational purposes only.

Estonian composer Arvo Pärt has become one of the most important and influential 20th century composers around. His musical journey throughout his life has been profound, leading him from the fashionable composing techniques in his early years to becoming a leading composer in a style commonly named ‘Holy Minimalism’ or ‘Sacred Minimalism’ similar to composers such as Tavener and Górecki. His early compositions were mostly in a Neo-Classical style influenced by composers such as Shostakovich and Prokofiev, but he soon moved on to using serialism techniques and employing the Twelve-tone system in his work. This however proved unpopular with the Soviet establishment at the time as well as leaving Pärt musically unfulfilled.