Seven years ago, Eduardo Torres was studying violin in Mexico and wanted to become a composer. An opportunity to study music abroad for a year came his way, but Eduardo’s first choice wasn’t Estonia. In fact, he didn’t even know where it was located. However, he somehow remembered that Arvo Pärt, whom he discovered at the age of 14 or 15, was Estonian. So he thought: “Okay, let’s go to this place and figure out if there is something special about Estonia that makes his music so wonderful.”
That’s how Eduardo found himself at the Gustav Adolf Gymnasium in Tallinn. During that first year in Estonia, Eduardo met his first love in Tartu, which pretty much defined his experience with this town.
There was also another encounter of the greatest importance; namely, Eduardo happened to see Arvo Pärt in St. Catherine’s Church in Tallinn. He confesses: “I was shocked because he was so close to me. In that moment I decided that if I were ever to talk to him, I would do it in Estonian.” That’s how Eduardo learned Estonian in no time. And, well, he did get a chance to talk to Arvo Pärt!
Eduardo was back in Mexico when Arvo Pärt and Tõnu Kaljuste, along with the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, were performing in Mexico City. The organizers were planning to get a Russian interpreter for them, but Eduardo would not let the perfect opportunity go to waste. “I guess that day was the most important day in my life, when I finally met Arvo Pärt. He actually — I don’t know how — but he knew who I was. I felt so proud and excited and touched by the whole thing,” reveals Eduardo.
He describes Arvo Pärt being almost as silent as his music: “He does not need to say much in order to express a lot. He is like the incarnation of his own music.”
Meanwhile, in Mexico, Eduardo discovered philosophy. He found that he could deal with “all these mysteries about music” that have always concerned him, in philosophy. “I realized that perhaps my vocation is that — the philosophical thinking of music,” shares Eduardo. So, he got his bachelor’s degree in philosophy in Mexico. At the same time, he started saving money and making preparations to return to Estonia.
Now Eduardo is back pursuing his master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Tartu. He seems to be more than happy with his studies, having the freedom to do the research that he wants to do with the people he wants to do it with.
A couple of months ago the young philosopher was at the market in Tartu, and there was a man playing accordion. He was playing “Ukuaru valss.” Eduardo thought: “Oh my God, these people here are playing Arvo Pärt in the street. This is home.”
Eduardo seems to adore everything about Estonia except food. Surprisingly enough, he likes October and November here, because everything seems so Halloween-like. “There is something very creepy about the Estonian landscape and architecture and everything. It has an eerie aura around everything, which I particularly love,” smiles Eduardo.
Another thing that he loves about Estonia is a peculiar perception of time: “The past is still there — you can feel it. At the same time, the future is here. I love how this culture can become modern, while at the same time retaining all these traditions and all these marvelous things that come from centuries ago. There is some mystical quality to the Estonian mindset.”
Eduardo pretty much agrees with his sister in Mexico who used to say that Estonian is like Japanese, but with an Italian accent. “It sounds very-very weird, but at the same time it has all this music about it, so it’s very whimsical; it’s very musical,” adds Eduardo. He likes the sound of “kh” in Estonian, and his favorite word is “nahkhiir,” which means “bat.”
Listen to the full interview with Eduardo Torres:
Inga Külmoja is an author and the editor of the UT Blog.