Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)

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Aram Khachaturian

Aram Khachaturian

When you think of world renown composers of music, one of the first names that come to mind is Aram Khachaturian. The entire world knows him as the composer of the Sabre Dance.

Aram Ilyich Khachaturian was born June 6, 1903, near Tiflis, Georgia. During his childhood, Aram heard Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijan songs in the streets of the big southern city from morning to night, and these melodies became early impressions deeply engraved in the memory of this gifted child.

Khachaturian began to study music at the age of nineteen, and he began to play the “cello”. He went to Moscow and entered the Gnesin School of Music, where he studied both composition and conducting, and by the time he was thirty he was playing at the Moscow Conservatory.

Khachaturian’s music was noted for being cheerful, rhythmic, and sensuous. His musical idiom had roots deep in folk music, and most of his compositions, large and small, were imbued with the spirit of national art, and yet he seldom, if ever, quoted folk melodies.

As an internationally renowned composer, his works included Dance Suite, Sabre Dance, and the ballets Gayane, Happiness, Masquerade, and Spartacus. He also composed several symphonic pieces, music for films and plays, and choral numbers. His native Armenian heritage is stirringly reflective in his melodies, rhythms, and pulsating vitality.

Khachaturian was considered the founder of a new symphonic school based on the inexhaustible wealth of Transcaucasian folk song. He was the first Armenian composer to create large-scale lyricoepic symphonic works addressed to his contemporaries. His Symphonies, as well as his concerts and symphonic poems, were comprehensible to millions of listeners.

The period from 1935 to 1941 was among his most fruitful. He completed his postgraduate studies at the Moscow Conservatory, wrote and successfully performed his piano concert, and composed incidental music for two films, Pepo and Zangezur.

The composer kept in close touch with Armenia and was elected deputy to the Armenian parliament. He was appointed to executive positions in the organizing committee of the Composers Union. Khachaturian was awarded the Order of Lenin for his music for the ballet Happiness, performed during a ten-day festival of Armenian music in Moscow.

For some time Khachaturian had been dreaming of conducting an orchestra. He had rehearsed with small orchestras in theaters staging plays with his music. His dream finally came true in 1950, when he conducted a full orchestra.

In the summer of 1957, Khachaturian and his wife made an extensive tour of the Latin-American countries. During his three-month visit, he conducted 12 concerts of his works, performing the Second Symphony, the Violin, Piano and Cello concerts, and the Gayane, Spartacus, and Masquerade suites. Khachaturian’s performance received very high praises from the Latin-American critics.

Khachaturian’s seventieth birthday, June 6, 1973, was widely observed. Booklets on his life and work were published in Moscow and Yerevan. Jubilee concerts of his music were held in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, and the Hall of Columns. There was a large exhibition of photographs in the lobby of the Conservatory, and the Bolshoi Theater gave a special anniversary performance of Spartacus.

In 1968, he toured the United States, visiting several cities and conducting orchestras in concerts consisting entirely of his own compositions. The concerts turned out to be very successful.

Aram Khachaturian married composer Nina Makarova, who had studied with him in the Myaskovsky’s composition class. They had one son. This was his second marriage. By his first wife, the pianist Ramella Khachaturian, he had a daughter, named “Nune” for whom he always showed a touching concern. She too became a pianist and music teacher at the Moscow Conservatory Music School.

Khachaturians favorite Armenian dish was “Dolma”, minced meat with rice wrapped in tender grape leaves and boiled.

Aram Khachaturian died on May 1, 1978. Thousands filed by his body as it lay in state in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and later in the Opera and Ballet Theater in Erevan. Later there was opened House-museum of Aram Khachaturian

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