Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (b. 1935) is well-known for his large body of work, most all of which is sacred in inspiration. His early compositions employed a variety of 20th compositional styles ranging from neo-classicism to collage techniques and avant-garde sound masses. After a period of personal compositional silence, Pärt re-emerged in the late 1970s with a new technique which he called “tintinnabuli,” named after the ringing of bells. Based upon careful manipulation of largely triadic material, this basic style has been extended by Pärt over the years to obtain a wide variety of emotional expression.
“Trivium” (1976) was one of Pärt’s very earliest works in his “tintinnabuli” style, written during the same year as the watershed piano piece “Für Alina” with which he defined the style in its most basic and austere form. The three sections of the piece treat the same material in different ways.