Für Alina - Arvo Pärt

Für Alina - Arvo Pärt

Für Alina – Arvo Pärt is a popular solo piano piece composed by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. The piece is one of the most definitive works of the composer's later Tintinnabuli style. Structured in simple harmonies and featuring some of Pärt’s most recognizable techniques, the piece is easily recognized and appreciated by novice and knowledgeable audiences alike.

History and Release

Pärt composed Für Alina as a musical gift for his friend Alina following her departure from his hometown. Originally scored for organ, the piece was later transcribed for piano. A version in its original form was first recorded in 1976, but Pärt himself completed an additional version in 1997 that was made available on CD the following year.

Für Alina has been included on a number of different albums and compilations. It has been performed by a variety of noted pianists, including Christopher O’Riley, Maki Namekawa, and Valentina Lisitsa, with viral recordings making the piece even more readily accessible.


The piece is composed of two different motifs. The first is introduced in the beginning of the piece and reoccurs throughout- a melodic arpeggiated theme that is repeated throughout the entire piece, changing to different harmonic contexts as the piece progresses. The other motif, a repetitive rhythmic pattern, is introduced about halfway through the piece and is heard several times until the conclusion. Much of Pärt’s signature style is showcased in the piece- steady oscillation between the two motifs, the consistent melody in the right hand, and the spare nature of the arrangement.

The harmonic language used in the piece is minimalistic. As mentioned before, the melodic arpeggiated motif is repeated and moved in harmonic context as the piece progresses; however, only limited harmonic change takes place. The piece is largely comprised of a few simple chords, and it makes use of the same harmonic material near the beginning, middle, and end.


The simplicity of the piece appeals to the listener- it is quite easy to follow the melody and harmonies, allowing easy recognition and understanding. Additionally, its ability to bring emotions out of the listener, whether that emotion of sorrow, loss, or something else entirely, is quite remarkable for a solo piano piece.

Für Alina has long been a staple of Pärt’s repertoire. Its simplicity and accessibility make it popular at concerts, recitals, and recordings, and its ability to be used as a soundtrack for popular works such as Doctor Who and The Office have further increased its visibility.


The solo piano piece Für Alina by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is an iconic work in the composer’s oeuvre. Its simple harmonization, repeating and oscillating motifs, and overall emotion make it an easy piece to understand and appreciate. To this day, the piece remains a beloved work among fans, concerts, and televisions alike and is sure to be a staple of classical music repertoire for many years to come.

Publication date: 17. 02. 2023