ARMENIAN MUSIC and MUSICIANS of the TWENTIETH CENTURY
In the first two decades of the Twentieth century many intellectuals and composers made their permanent homes in Erevan, the capital city of Armenia. The Armenian musicians busied themselves in creating operatic and symphonic works, chamber music, and vocal creations, always striving to preserve the national element of their music. The initial steps were timid and unsure, and progress was hampered by vagueness of the new creative tasks, due to the professional immaturity of the young musicians.
Through the efforts of Romanos Melikian, the Conservatory of Erevan was established in 1923. One year later, the first Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Alexander Spendiarian was formed. The year 1933 marked the birth of the State Opera Theater, and 1938 witnessed the formation of the Song and Dance Ensemble, under the Directorship of Tatoul Altounian.
Full significance of this new musical epoch arrived in the thirties and was associated, to a considerable extent, with the works of Aram Khachadourian, the founder of the new national school of composition. Khachadourian belonged to the rank of composers whose music was recognizable from the opening bars. As an example, Khachadourian’s "Sabre Dance", with its irresistible rhythmic pulsation, is well known to Armenian audiences.
Khachadourian’s musical ideas proved to have an unusual appeal to the group of young composers who launched their first creative works in the early forties. Among these were Alexander Haroutounian, Arno Babajanian, and Edward Mirzoian, all of who had already won recognition in Armenia and abroad. Much credit must be given to Rouben Gregorian, of the Boston Conservatory of Music, who presented the works of these composers at the Annual Armenian night at the Pops.
The most striking feature of the Armenian music of the postwar period was its maturity. A maturity both artistic and professional. In 1945, the Armenian Philharmonic was reorganized, through the efforts of H. Maloutzian and the State Chorus was revitalized by A. Der Hovhanessian, under the leadership of T. Altounian. The Song and Dance Ensemble also became very popular.
The intensive development of symphonic music was due to the efforts of a large group of composers, J. Der Tatteosian, G. Orpelian, E. Hovhanessian, K. Eghiazarian, S. Chrpashian, V. Godoian, and A. Ajemian. Since 1964 a composer’s community had been established in the town of Dilijian. Musicologists such as Robert Ataian, K. Dikranian and N. Tahmizian were members of a young generation of composers who had come to the fore. D. Mansourian, R. Altounian, and M. Israelian were also part of this new group, and presented compositions of chamber-instrumental pieces. Their works were characterized by a striking vivid individuality and integrity, in keeping with the trends of contemporary music.
E. Mirzoian, the chairman of the Union of composers of Armenia, describes the creative mood among these young composers with the words, "The future does not only belong to our youth, but they also are the present of our art". http://www.armenianheritage.com/damus20.htmMUSIC
The roots of professional Armenian music can be traced far back into history. In the petroglyphs found on the Armenian Plateau we can see ritual dancing scenes. In the mid 2nd millennium B.C., in the states established in the territory of Armenia (Nairi, etc.) songs and music became part of the cult ritual. Culture was on a new rise, including music, especially, in the 1st millennium B.C.. The horn found in Lake Sevan basin (early 1st millenium B.C.) and the pair of bronze cymbals found at the Red Hill (7th century B.C.) suggest that the people in that period were familiar with other middle eastern musical instruments. The Navasard (Sprig) Games were accompanied with luxurious festivities. In the heathen temples dedicated to the gods of the Armenian pantheon, specially educated priests created a Prayer Book.; cult singing and music developed; secular music developed thanks to bards. Labor songs also developed. These developments were enhanced during the reign of the Yervanduni dynasty. Mourning ceremonies were worked out by weepers.
A 3rd century B.C. bone flute with five holes was found in Garni. Hellenic culture developed in that period in the unified kingdom of the Greater Armenia. During the rise of the Artasheside dynasty, military and ritual music was at its peak, especially wedding songs, and poems called "Epos", "Epos Narration", "Narrator's Song", "Selected Songs".
Music played an important role in the early Christian Armenia, the folk and bard music of the heathen period continued to develop (bard music, bard songs), the new church singing tradition was formed. According to Agatangeghos, as far back as in the pre-alphabet period psalms had been widely spread. Except the creation of the alphabet and active translation work, Mesrop Mashtots and Saak Partev regulated the liturgy which previously was in Greek and Assyrian, and made it in Armenian. Thanks to them, based on the traditional four-voice system, the Armenian eight-voice system was created. Traditionally, they are believed to be the founders of national hymn singing. Liturgy books were translated and gradually became national (Prayer Book, Breviary, Liturgy Book). In the 7th-8th cc., the Armenian sharakan (church songs) made dramatic achievements (see Sharakan). In the 7th century, for the first time, spiritual songs were put into order and performed. This served as the basis for the future Book of Sharakan and was named after Barseg Chon who compiled it. The system of Armenian melodies was classified in the 8th century by a theoretician of music Stepanos Sunetsi (the Second). Thanks to his efforts, the genre of the Byzantine canon consisting of 8-9 songs was introduced into the Armenian spiritual music. In the works of Saakdukht and Khosrovdukht, the transition from the previous rigorous, small-scale, psalm-like chants to longer, drawling, ornamented style of sharakans and songs is already obvious.
The Armenian singing note symbols, the khaz, originated in the 8th-9th centuries. Noteworthy amongst the authors of the 9th century are Hamam Areveltsi and Catholicos Mashtots I Yegvardetsi. In the 9th-10th centuries the "Sasna Tsrer" epos took shape which contains chanted fragments forming its indispensable part. In the 10th-14th centuries Armenian music experienced an unprecedented rise.
Both bard music and spiritual singing art flourished in Ani; Catholicoses Sarkis I Sevantsi and Petros I Getadarts, Grigor Magistros Pahlavuni, Hovannes Yerzankatsi (Pluz), influenced the cultural atmosphere also in the capacity of sharakan authors. Various types of spiritual one-voiced singing were on the rise in the 10th-14th centuries. A new spirit could be felt in Grigor Narekatsi's works preserved in music. The Prayer Book, the Liturgy Book, the Sharakan Book and the Breviary took final shape and became more perfect. New church song books appeared: the Treasury, the Manrusum and the Tagaran.
The music culture of Cilician Armenia (1080-1375) reached its peak in the 12th century with the works of outstanding musician and poet Nerses Shnorali.
The rise of musical art in the 12th-14th centuries promoted the further development of the khaz recording system and research, and wide application of the khaz in song books as a means of note recording (especially, in Manrusum and Khazgirk collections). After the 15th century the art of sharakan declined. The age-long history of the Armenian sharakan ended. In hard political and economic conditions, due to the pillage and plunder of foreign conquerors and loss of independence, the newly formed Armenian communities in different countries of Europe and Middle East started to play an important role. Religious songs got secularized. Song books including both religious and secular songs became widely spread in the 15th-18th century (e.g. the hairens and untunis). The art of bards became very popular in the 16th-18th century. The most talented bard was Sayat-Nova. Parallel to Nagash Ovnatan, Bagdasar Dpir, Petros Kapantsi's art based on the tagaran songs, the art of the bards had a refreshing influence, and alongside with old national music, created songs of a new quality and poetry.
The field of musical theory is notable for the attempts to correlate the elements of the medieval traditions and the European theory, to study the Byzantine note recording system (Khachatur Erzrumtsi, Antertsogh Tigranakerttsi, Mkhitar Sebastatsi), as well as to make first attempts to replace the obsolete system of khaz recording with a newly developed one (Grigor Gapasakalian), which promoted the creation of a new Armenian sound recording system by H.Limonjian.
In the 19th century, the Armenian music entered a period of national revival with a significant potential. The school of Armenian composers was formed in the new period, and after a century-old isolation, the Armenian music started its development. The domain was occupied by composers and performers with conservatoire education; outstanding bards Shirani and, particularly, Jivani established the Armenian national school of bards. The art of the Armenian saz players reached its peak; the glorious Agamal Melik-Agamalian, kemancha player Sasha Oganezashvili, etc. enriched the classical music and spread the renown of the Armenian music in the neighboring countries, in Russia and Europe. Piano players, the Adamian sisters, were engaged in broad concert activities, as well as Karl Mikulin, Stepan Elmas, violinists David Davtian, Hovannes Nalbandian, singers Nadezhda Papayan, Hegine Terian-Gorganian, Margarit Babayan, Nerses Shahlamian, Beglar Amirjanian, Armenak Shahmuradian, Komitas with his profound national art of a performer. Tigran Chukhadjian emerged in the 1860s.
In the 1880s the collection and recording of folk poetry started; and the transition of the old traditional one-voiced religious and secular songs into the multi-voiced format. K.Kara-Murza with his numerous choruses produced the national one-voiced songs in the four-voiced treatment. M.Yekmalian applied the principles of the homophonic multi-voiced singing to the national music. Komitas discovered the national roots of the performing peculiarities in Armenian folk and spiritual songs, he founded the Armenian musical ethnography and the school of Armenian national composers. Nikoghaios Tigranian, Romanos Melikian, Armen Tigranian, Alexander Spendiarian, etc. worked in the late 19th-early 20th century. Folk music is one of the significant sections of the Armenian national music. The Armenian folk song music is multi-genre: labor songs (horovel, kalerg, etc.), ritual songs, historical, classical, humorous and satirical, dance songs, etc.
The music of the Soviet period: after the establishment of Soviet power in Armenia, the authorities appealed to Armenian composers, performers, musicians and they came to Armenia from different places (A.Spendiarian, R.Melikian, S.Melikian, A.Ter-Gevondian, A.Adamian, A.Gabrielian, Sh.Talian, H.Danielian, etc.). In 1921 a music studio was founded in Yerevan, which served as the basis for the conservatoire in 1923. A symphony orchestra was established at the conservatoire (headed by conductor A.Spendiarian, A.Adamian), and a chorus (choir, headed by S.Melikian). Groups propagating folk and bard music were formed (including national musical instruments orchestra, 1926, A.Merangulian), a chamber orchestras (Komitas quartet, 1925), musical broadcasts, a publishing house, planned concerts of local and invited performers. In 1925 a musical studio was established in Gumry, and in 1929, a music school in Yerevan. The role of A.Spendiarian was especially significant in the creation of new genres, in the treatment of Armenian and foreign songs in terms of voice, orchestra and piano performance. R.Melikian summarized the period of the establishment of the Armenian classical romance song in his cycles ("Zmrukht", published in 1928, and Zar-Var, published in 1949). A.Ter-Gevondian created one of the first symphony opuses based on a national plot, "Akhtamar" poem (1923). S.Barkhudarian enriched the Armenian piano music with skilful miniatures. New significant musical centers were created in the 1930s: Yerevan Opera and Ballet Theater was opened with "Almast" opera in 1933; its repertoire included "Anush" opera by A.Tigranian (in the new edition). The Armenian Philharmony became an important musical center (1932). Symphony concerts became regular (conductors K.Sarajev, I.Kharajanian); new orchestras were established: the Armenian Folk Dance and Song Ensemble (1938, headed by T.Altunian), the Armenian Jazz Orchestra, Sayat-Nova Armenian Bard Ensemble. Over these years, a new generation of talented composers appeared: Aram Khachaturian, H.Stepanian, L.Khoja-Einatov, K.Zakarian, A.Satian, V.Talian, A.Aivazian, etc. In 1932 the Union of Composers was founded.
The work of A.Khachaturian had pivotal significance in the history of Armenian musical culture and enriched it with new content.
During the Great Patriotic War (1941-45) the concert and music life in Armenia was not terminated: the staging of "Arshak II" opera by T.Chukhajian became an important event in the repertoire of the Opera and Ballet Theater (1945). In 1942 the Theater of Musical Comedy was established in Yerevan. In this and further years, the "Soldier's Song" by A.Satian was one of recognized works amongst other songs. In 1944 the National Anthem of Soviet Armenia was created (lyrics by Sarmen, music by A.Khachaturian). In 1942 "Armenia" symphonic poem was created by G.Egiazarian; in 1943 A.Khachaturian created his monumental Symphony No.2, which called to struggle and wrath (part 3 is based on folk song "Vorskan Akhper"). In 1944 H.Stepanian wrote his Symphony No.1. In these years A.Tigranian created his "David Bek" opera (staged in 1950).
In the post-war years composers A.Babajanian, A.Harutunian, E.Mirzoyan, E.Hovannisian, G.Sarian, E.Bagdasarian, G.Armenian, A.Terterian, A.Ajemian, T.Mansuran, K.Orbelian, J.Ter-Tadevosian, R.Amirkhanian, Kh.Avetisian, G.Chebotarian, G.Chitechian, G.Hakhinian, E.Aristakesian, M.Vardazarian, M.Mavisakalian, A.Khudoyan, G.Hovunts, S.Agajanian, S.Jrbashian, V.Kotoyan, M.Israelian, S.Shakarian, E.Erkanian, E.Hairapetian, R.Altunian, V.Balian, V.Babayan, A.Satunts, etc. enriched Armenian music with highly professional works of various genres.
The achievements of the singers were significant: Gohar Gasparian, Tatevik Sazandarian, Pavel Lisitsian, N.Havannisian, M.Yerkat, A.Petrosian, D.Pogosian, A.Karapetian, G.Grigorian, G.Galajian, E.Uzunian, A.Harutunian; ballet soloists: V.Galstian, L.Semanova, T.Grigorian, E.Mnatskanian, V.Khanamirian, H.Divanian; choreographers: E.Changan, M.Martirosian, V.Galstian, A.Asatrian; in chamber singing: Z.Dolukhanova, L.Zakarian, M.Abovian, etc.
Amongst the renowned performers of folk songs are: A.Gulzadian, Sh.Mkrtchian, O.Hambartsumian, A.Bagdasarian, A.Ter-Abramian, H.Badalian, R.Matevosian, duduk players: M.Markarian, L.Madoyan, V.Hovsepian, J.Gasparian, tar players: S.Seiranian, kamancha players: L.Karakhan, G.Mirzoyan, kanon players: Kh.Avetisian, A.Atabekian, etc. Songs by bards (gusans) Sherami, Havasi, Shahen, Ashot, etc. were widely spread.
The performing art reached a qualitatively higher level: symphony orchestras were conducted by M.Maluntsian, O.Durian, D.Khanjian, etc.; opera performance conductors: G.Budagian, M.Tavrizian, S.Charekian, A.Katanian, H.Voskanian, Yu.Davtian, etc.
State Choir of Armenia has been conducted by H.Chekijian since 1961, performing the interpretations of choir songs by Komitas, M.Yekmalian, K.Kara-Murza made by A.Ter-Hovanessian. New troupes were created at the same time: Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra (1966 headed by O.Durian, later by R.Mangasarian), A.Ter-Hovannesian Choir at the Choir Society of Armenia (1966, 1969-96 headed by E.Tsaturian), the Chamber Ensemble at the Armenian Philharmony (1964 headed by Z.Saakiants, since 1989 by R.Aharonian), Yerevan Chamber Orchestra (1979 headed by Z.Vardanian), the Violin Ensemble of Radio and Television (1970 headed by G.Ajemian). The activities of Dance Ensemble of Armenia had special significance.
After the establishment of Armenian independence, the Opera and Ballet Theater headed by T.Levonian, amongst other performances, staged "Polictos" opera by Donicetti, and went on a number of foreign tours. Musical life in the Republic of Armenia has acquired a new dimension. In Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall, regular symphony concerts have been conducted by Philharmonic Orchestra of Armenia headed by L.Chknavorian. After the Earthquake of 1988, the traditional music life has been reviving in Gumry and Vanadzor. Both new and old musical troupes have achieved significant results (e.g. the reorganized Chamber Orchestra of Armenia headed by A.Karabekian). Foreign tours of soloists, troupes and orchestras have become frequent, the Armenian composers created new works of various genres. In 1991 the new anthem of the Republic of Armenia was adopted.Dancing
Armenian folk dances (labor, ritual, regular) have ancient origin, and were accompanied with songs, musical instruments (particularly, percussion); by content, number of dancers, their sex, age, purpose, the role in culture and significance, they have appropriate meanings, and are grouped by certain categories. The known categories are: govnd dance, shoror dance, ververi dance, forward and back dance, measured dance, snakelike dance, stomp and jump dance, kochari, etc. which by content are classified as epic, lyrical, comic, daily-life, labor, hunting, mourning, funeral, wedding, military, travel, children's, cult-related dances. Each dance type has its own melody, cast, sex and age, of performers, form of performance, a chanted text. Numerous dance types and forms have cult-related and totemic origin (Incense Tree, Apricot Tree, Goose-Goose, etc.). During weddings and various ceremonies, dances were performed in the masks of various animals and fantastic creatures.Ballet
The first steps in the sphere of Armenian stage dance and ballet were made in the mid 19th century. The first stable ballet troupe functioned at Aramian Theater. The establishment of the Armenian Operetta Theater promoted the process of stage dance. At Constantinople Operetta Theater, the performance of dances by ballerinas from the troupes of H.Vardovian and S.Penklian was the most prominent. The dances were staged by Yeranos Chaprast, he also founded schools in Constantinople (1868), then in Smyrna and Adana. Dances were created by public figure G.Kostandian, by actors G.Rshtuni and S.Penklian, and by composer T.Chukhajian in his operettas, ballet interludes in "Arshak II", "Zemire" operas. In the eastern Armenian theater performances of the 1870s, Armenian and Asian dances were used. In the operetta troupes of S.Penklian, Amirago (P.Amiraghian) and H.Voskanian, Armenian dancers performed. Ballet dancer Korganov performed in Baku Mailov Theater and in the 1920s he was the soloist at Baku Opera and Ballet Theater. Choreographer S.Kevorkov also worked in Baku. In the 1910s dancer Armen Ohanian achieved world acclaim. In 1917 S.S.Lisitsian in Tbilisi founded a recital, rhythm and plastics studio (in 1924 reorganized into rhythm and plastics institute). During the first Soviet years young Armenian soloists educated in the 1920s at Tbilisi M.Perini and Baku S.Kevorkov studios became dancers at various opera and ballet theaters; in Tbilisi, S.Sergeev (Vardanbabov), S.Gorski (Ter-Gevondian), G.Barkhudarov, D.Shikanian, K.Ejubava, etc. One the founders of Armenian national ballet, I.Arbatov (Yagubian) also worked outside Armenia. V.Aristakesian, N.Lisitsian, T.Lisitsian, etc. participated in concerts as dancers in Baku, Tbilisi and Yerevan. In 1923 Gumry opera and operetta troupe was organized (headed by Sh.Talian). In 1924 V.Aristakesian founded state dance studio in Yerevan (dance college since 1937). Armenian ballet advanced in the opera and ballet theater established in 1933 in Yerevan where ballet works by Armenian composers were staged by talented performers, famous choreographers V.Galstian and M.Martirosian, etc.
The ballet troupe of the opera theater went on tours around the former USSR and abroad. Armenian choreographers staged performances abroad.http://www.siliconarmenia.com/resources/ht...ish/page21.html