Pärt was the first non-theologian to win a Ratzinger Prize, back in 2017.
In November 2017 the Ratzinger Prize was awarded, for the first time, to a non-theologian: the Orthodox Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Pope Francis explained granting Pärt the award was perfectly aligned with the theological vision of Benedict XVI: beauty, the pontiff said, is a “privileged way to open ourselves to transcendence and encounter with God.” Indeed, art allows for serenity and “elevation of the mind.”
The Estonian maestro was the most performed contemporary composer in the world for eight years in a row, until 2019, when he lost the top spot to American composer John Williams.
As read in a post published by Estonian World, according to the classical music event database Bachtrack, the most performed contemporary composers in the world in 2019 were John Williams, Arvo Pärt, James MacMillan, Philip Glass, John Adams, György Kurtág, Eric Whitacre, John Rutter, Thomas Adès, and Steve Reich, in that order.
Bachtrack calculates a series of statistics each year that show the number of times the work of each composer has been performed. The most performed composers overall were Beethoven, Mozart, J.S. Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Schumann, Haydn, Chopin and Mendelssohn.
You can listen to some of the Estonian maestro’s compositions in our Contemporary Sacred Music playlist below: