Wallfahrtslied (Pilgrim’s Song)
Arvo Pärt composed Ein Wallfahrtslied / Pilgrims’ Song for tenor or bariton and string quartet in 1984 in memory of his friend, the film director Grigory Kromanov (1926–1984). According to the composer himself, Pilgrims’ Song is an attempt to blend in music the contrasting layers of being on this side of the time and being in the sphere of timelessness. The dynamism and mobility of the orchestral part, built around the descending chromatic tone row, makes up one dimension in the composition, while the other dimension is provided by the static quality of the vocal part reduced to a single pitch, which can be compared to the serenity of mountains. Psalm 121 indeed starts with an image of mountains: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”
The work premiered on 15 October 1984 in Berlin, in the Otto-Braun-Saal in Staatsbibliothek, performed by Klaus Thiem (bariton), Hans Maile (violin), Wolfgang Fechner (violin), Thomas C. Turner (viola) ja Georgi Petkov (cello).