It was in September, 1963 when Arvo Pärt visited Warsaw Autumn, Polish festival of contemporary music, which for Pärt as for many other Eastern European composers at that time was one of the few platforms to get in contact with avant-garde music and to meet colleaguse from the West.
Pärt had gained his modernist reputation in Soviet Estonia already with his first compositions, written as a student. Impressions and experiences from Warsaw definitely encouraged Pärt to further and even bolder experiments and exploring new paths.
Only few months after his visit to Warsaw Pärt composed his Perpetuum mobile for orchestra, the first sonoristic composition in Estonian music. Soon after that came a miniature choir piece Solfeggio (1963) – timbre-focused vocal exercise in C Major, text based on the note names do, re, mi, etc; an experimental piano piece Diagramme (1964) – a dodecaphonic work with aleatoric elements, written down in graphic notation; and also Collage über B-A-C-H (1964) – the first collage in Estonian music.
In early 1960s Pärt also took part in the experimental art events called happenings which were initiated by avant-garde writers, artists and musicians. During one of these happenings in January, 1961, in Tallinn Writers’ House it just happened that the violin that according to the stage script had to “go to the surgery“, accidentally caught fire … The scandal with the Soviet officials was unavoidable and Pärt was one of them who had to write an explanatory
First page from the score of Diagramme.