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The celebrated Soviet Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian's works constitute a precious contribution to he treasure – house of world classical music.
His highly original, colorful, sometimes temperamentally cheerful and ardent, sometimes tranquil and sooth, captivatingly beautiful music by its deep emotionality, wealth of ideas and feelings, is the manifestation of his exuberant talent.
Aram Khachaturian began serious musical study at the relatively late age of nineteen.
He was born in Tiflis (Tbilisi) capital of Georgia on June 6, 1903 into the Armenian family of Kumash and Yeghia (Ilya)Khachaturian, who came of peasant families from Aza, an Armenian village in Nakhichevan.
The family of the book-binder Yeghia lived in a district of old Tiflis, which was considered to be the cultural centre of the Transcaucasia. As a boy Khachaturian, was fond of folk dances and songs widespread in this town. Besides, his father and mother handed down to him and his three brother their love for folk music. Their family turned to be very artistic. His elder brother Suren became well known in the theatrical world in Moscow. Vaginak was an amateur actor, the youngest brother Levon became a singer in Moscow.
The Armenian songs Khachaturian heard as a boy, revealed to him the national spirit, life and culture of his people.
He first learned to read music at Princess Argutinskaya-Dolgorukaya's boarding –school, and when, later he entered the Commercial school, he became a member of the student brass band, playing tenor horn.
In 1921 Suren took Aram to Moscow. The new condition gave a new turn to the young man's life.
In 1922 he went to Gnesin Music school and took up the study of the cello.
In 1925 Khachaturian entered the composition class on the advice of his teacher, composer Mikhail Gnesin. Here he composed a number of instrumental pieces: Dance for violin and piano (1926), Poem for piano (1927),Song Poem for violin and piano (1929) etc, which bear the unmistakable stamp of his personality. Within a year they were published and performed on the concert stages.
In those years Khachaturian was active in the House of Armenian Culture in Moscow. It was there that he got acquainted with the culture of Armenia. He wrote music for some plays on Armenian themes for its Drama Studio.
Upon graduating from the Gnesin School in 1929 Khachaturian entered the Moscow Conservatoire and studied composition at outstanding Russian composer Myaskovsky.
Among the works Khachaturian composed in Myaskovsky's class are his sonata for violin and piano, Trio for piano, violin and clarinet, Dance Suite, Toccata for piano etc.
In 1934 Khachaturian wrote his First Symphony as graduation thesis while completing the composition course. He dedicated it to the 15th anniversary of the establishment of Soviet government in Armenian.
The symphony was first performed by the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra under Eugen Szenkar. Music critics welcomed the work as a major achievement of the young composer.
Another important event took place in Khachaturian's life shortly before his graduation. In Myaskovsky's class he met Nina Makarova, a young and talented composer and pianist and soon the young people were married. Their son Karen was born in 1940. He is now Art critic in Moscow.
Upon graduation Khachaturian took a post – graduate course under Myaskovsky's guidance and composed his Piano concerto. It was dedicated to the talented pianist Lev Oborin.
The piano Concerto brought Khachaturian world fame. In 1940 he wrote his Violin Concerto and was awarded the State Prize. In 1941 his music for the Lermontov's drama "Masquearade" was written.
During the Patriotic war (1941-1945) Khachaturian composed several war songs, the ballet Gayaneh( the revised version of his first ballet "Happiness" written in 1939) which was first performed by the Kirov opera and ballet theater in 1942, the Second Symphony (1943). For the ballet and a symphony Khachaturian was again awarded State Prizes. In 1944 Khachaturian wrote the national Anthem of Soviet Armenia.
The post – war years were marked by major achievements. On February 10, 1948 Khachaturian experienced many unpleasant day. By the Central Committee of the Communist Party resolution Khachaturian, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and other prominent Soviet composers were accused of "following an antipopular formalistic trend".
Several years later the Central Committee of the Party admitted that in those years they had been unjust. And after a little period of disappointment, Khachaturian continued his creative work.
On December 27, 1956 Khachaturian's ballet “Spartacus” had its premiere at the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theatre. It was a real triumph and one more proof of the composer's original talent.
Along with the ballet "Gayaneh", "Spartacus" have been staged in many countries of the world. It is constantly included in the repertoire of Moscow Bolshoi Theatre. In 1959 Khachaturian was awarded Lenin Prize for the ballet "Spartacus".
As Khachaturian's prestige and popularity grew, his sphere of social activities widened. He was the Deputy President of the Organizing Committee of the Union of Soviet Composers. Deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, head of different culture associations.
In 1950 Khachaturian took up teaching composition at the Gnesin Music Institute and also was appointed to a professorship at the Moscow Conservatoire. Most of his students became outstanding composers: Edgar Hovhannissian, Ed. Khaghaghortzian, M. Tariverdiev, K. Volkov, M. Minkov, An. Vieru(Romania), A. Aeshpai, Nobuo Terehara (Japan), Lopes Martin Horhe (Cuba) etc.
During his lifetime Khachaturian got all the prestigious titles existing in the USSR: Titles of People's artist of Armenia, Russia and the USSR, Hero of Socialist Labor and also numerous awards, prizes, medals and orders.
Khachaturian left a comprehensive musical legacy embracing almost all genres and forms.
His 3 symphonies, 3 concertos, 3 concerto-rhapsodies, ballets, a number of other orchestral works, works for soloists, chorus and symphony orchestra, piano and violin pieces, songs incidental music to plays and 17 films (Armenian films "Pepo" and "Zangezur" among them) are loved by the broadest audience on all the continents. As a composer and conductor he appeared in more than 50 countries of the world: Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hawaii, Hungary, Italy, Iran, Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Monaco, Romania, Poland, Finland, Norway, North, Middle and South America, Japan etc.
He was an honored professor of Santa Cecilia Academy of music in Rome, of German and Greece art academies. He was awarded orders and diplomas in France, Egypt, Romania, Bulgaria, Iran etc.
His works were performed by outstanding musicians of different countries: pianists (L.Oborin, Y.Flier, W.Kapell, N.Petrov, A.Rubinstein, M. Limpany, B. Berezovsky etc), cellists (M.Rostropovich, Knushevitsky, Ad. Odnoposoff, Shakhovskaya), violinists (Is. Perlman, Pikizen, D. Oistrakh, L. Kogan, Elman etc.),conductors (Gauk, Herbert von Karayan, Zubin Mehta, G. Gorgesku, Y. Ormandy, Leopold Stokovsky, Genady Rojdestvenski etc). Armenian prominent musicians always perform Khachaturian's works with special love and pride.
Recordings of Khachaturian's works have been made by British, Armenian, German, French, Japanese and many other firms.
Most of Khachaturian works have been published in Armenian, Russian leading publishing houses as well as in foreign ones, such as: "Muuzichna Ukraina" Ukraine, "Suhulem Mataasi" Istambul, "Le Chant du Monde" Paris, "leads Music Corporation" New York, "Hans Sikorsky" Hamburg, "Belwin Mills" New York ,"G.Schimer" London, "Edition Peters" Leipzig and many others.
Aram Khachaturian died on May 1,1978. He was buried in Yerevan in the Pantheon next to other great names of Armenian culture.
Just after his death the Aram Khachaturian's museum in Yerevan was established which became the favorite cultural center for Khachaturian music lovers.
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