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Title: Armenian Composers

Erebuni - October 31, 2011 02:01 AM (GMT)
Aram Khachaturyan

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BRIEF BIOGRAPHY [flash version]


Aram Khachaturian is a talented composer, whose compositions became part of the music classics of the 20-th century. His name is recognized throughout the world, and the compositions are performed worldwide, on the best theater stages, concert platforms, as well as the most distant places. Today, the music of Khachaturian is played on the radio, TV and cinema. The UNESCO places the name of Khachaturian among the most renowned composers of the 20-th century, and his “Sabre Dance” of the well-known ballet “Gayaneh” takes one of the first places in the list of the most popular compositions of our age.

Aram Khachaturian was born in Kodzhori (now Tbilisi), suburb of Tiflis, on June 6, 1903, in the Armenian family of a bookbinder. He wrote later: “Old Tiflis is a city of sounds, a city of music. It took a stroll along the streets and lanes away from the center, to plunge into the musical atmosphere which was created by all the various sources…”

It is also important, that at the time, there was a division of RMC (Russian Musical Society) in Tbilisi, as well as a musical school and an Italian Opera Theatre. This place was visited by famous cultural representatives, among which were: Fyodor Shalyapin, Sergei Rakhmaninov, Konstantin Igumnov. Ultimately, there lived famous musicians, who played an important role in the formation of Georgian and Armenian composer schools.

All of this constituted the basis for the early musical impressions of Aram Khachaturian. The original multi-national “alloy” of the intonation was an integral part of his acoustical experience. Years later, this very “alloy” became the pledge of Khachaturian’s music, so that it was never limited by the frames of nationality, and was always appealing to a wide-range of audiences. It is worth mentioning that Khachaturian was always devoid of any demonstration of national hidebound. He had a profound respect and a live interest in the music of various nations. Internationalism is one of the characteristic features and peculiarities of the world perception, and is part of the creative work of Khachaturian.

Despite his early demonstrated musical abilities, Aram Khachaturian became acquainted with the music literacy for the first time at the age of 19 in 1922, when he arrived in Moscow and got enrolled in a cello class at Gnesin Music School. Simultaneously, the composer got a degree in biology from the Department of Physics and Mathematics at Moscow State University.

The musical development of Khachaturian proceeded at a fast pace. Within a short period, not only did he catch up on his classwork, but he also became one of the best students, obtaining the right to perform at students’ concerts in the Small and Grand Halls of Moscow Conservatory.


Khachaturian’s fate as a composer was eventually defined in 1925, when they opened a composition class at the school. After obtaining initial skills of composition there, in 1929, he was admitted to Moscow National Conservatory, where lead by Nikolai Yakovlevich Myaskovsky he was formed as a composer.
Aram Khachaturian was indelibly impressed by the visit of Myaskovsky’s class by Sergey Prokofiev in 1933. The creative work of a genius composer captured the young musician more and more. In its turn, Khachaturian’s compositions amazed Prokofiev so greatly, that he took them with him to Paris, where they were immediately performed.

The first published composition of Khachaturian, “Dance” for violin and piano, already embraces some of the characteristic features of the composer’s stylistics: improvisation, diversity of variation techniques, as well as imitation of timbre effects widely spread in Eastern instrumental music, in particular the famous “Khachaturian’s seconds”, rhythmic ostinato. The composer himself noted: “These seconds come from the numerous sounds of folk instruments which I heard as a child: sazandartar, qyamancha and drum. My organ-point predilection comes from the Eastern music.”

Gradually, Khachaturian switched from little forms to more expanded ones, from the “arrangement” of folk songs and dances up to its “development”. In 1932, the Suite for piano was created; its first piece “Toccata” was widely recognized and included in the repertoire of many pianists. It has stood the test of time. Created by Khachaturian in his youth, “Toccata” has preserved its fascination and power of influence up till now. Rodion Shedrin wrote: “Many years have passed since the day of appearance of that dynamic wonderful play, but even now, its performance whets enthusiasm of the public. There is no professional, who would not but have it memorized, and who would not cherish it with heated enthusiasm.”

In 1933, a new composition “Dance Suite” for symphonic orchestra was performed. The composer Dmitriy Kobalevskiy wrote: “The first performance of this composition, which emitted sunlight, joy of life and spiritual power, was a great success to the young composer, still a student, and he was immediately ranked among the top positions of Soviet composers”.

Here many new things came to happen. The young composer showed his outstanding orchestral skills and affinity for symphonic thinking. In a festive and elegant score of the “Dance Suite” the contours of bright individual orchestral style of Khachaturian stood out clearly.

In 1935, in the Hall of Moscow Conservatorium, the orchestra directed by E. Senkara performed the First Symphony introduced by composer-graduate as the final project for graduation from the conservatory. It finalized the most productive period of studying and, at the same time, started a new period of life and creative work of the composer, who entered maturity stage. The audience, press, colleagues and friends noted the high artistic value of the new composition, the originality and public importance of its content, the richness of melodies, the generosity of harmonic and orchestra colors, and in particular, the bright national coloring of music.


As maturity approached, Khachaturyan started to give more priority to composing the music for drama plays in his creative work. The most significant compositions of this genre are: music to Lope de Vega’s “The Valencian Widow” (1940), Lermontov’s “Masquerade” (1941). Symphonic suites, created on the basis of music to plays, gained their independent concert life.

Khachaturian also paid a duly attention to cinematography, by showing excellent feeling of its specific rules, understanding efficient role of music in discovering the essence of the synthetic whole. Among various films, in which his music sounds, “Pepo” and “Zangezour” occupy special place.

The brightest talent of Aram Khachaturian was revealed in his symphonic compositions. Both the Piano Concerto (1936) and Violin Concerto and orchestra (1940) were a great success, and very soon gained the sympathy of listeners.
In these compositions, the tendencies, which first surfaced in “Dance Suite” and “First Symphony”, found further development, but they also added quite a few new elements. First of all, this was a sign of the composer’s acquisition of concerto style, which later became one of the characteristic features of his own style. The composer turned to the concerto genre several times, and made a number of interesting and bold discoveries in it.

Just as the composer was recognized one of the most famous and talented musicians, the Great Patriotic War began in 1941. However, even during those hard times, many of Khachaturian’s compositions were performed, which motivated him to in the pursue of

In 1942, the score of the ballet “Gayaneh” featuring the libretto of K. Derzhavin was finished. In this composition, the composer skillfully synthesized the tradition of the classic ballet with the folklore national music and choreographic art. The ballet “Gayaneh” was included as a solid part of the repertoire of native and foreign theaters. Three symphonic suites, composed by Khachaturian from the music to “Gayaneh”, also gained widespread fame.

In 1943, the Second symphony of Khachaturian was completed. New, extraordinary sides of his creative works were revealed in this composition of the war years, in which the music was enriched with new colors of heroics and tragedy. Dmitriy Shostakovich wrote: “The Second Symphony is perhaps Khachaturian’s first composition, in which the tragic start reaches these new heights; but, despite its tragic essence, this composition is full of profound optimism and belief in victory. A combination of the tragedy and life-assertion here is acquiring great power.”

In 1944, Khachaturian composed the national hymn of Armenia. One year later the war was over, and soon the “victorious” Third symphony appeared. Really, Third symphony is an excited, full of pathetic elements ode, original hymn to victors. In connection with Third symphony of Khachaturian, it should be recalled the words of academician B. V. Asafiev: “The art of Khachaturian appeals: “May it be light! And may it be joy!”…

In the summer of 1946, the composer created his Cello Concerto, which was performed in Moscow by S. Knushevitsky with a great success. At the same time, the vocal cycle to verses of Armenian poets was created. If the instrumental concert has long ago become one of the favorite genres for the composer, the vocal cycle was applied for the first time.

In 1954, the most significant composition of Aram Khachaturian, heroic and tragic ballet “Spartacus” was created. It occupied a deserving place among the best ballets of the 20th century for the profoundness of its idea, the brightness of artistic implementation, the scale of dramatic art and form, and finally, for the boldness of resolution of actual creative problems related to contemporary musical and choreographic art.

The 60-s were marked by another concert “splash” in the creative work of Khachaturian – three Concerto-Rhapsodies appeared one after another: Concerto-Rhapsody for violin and orchestra (1961), Concerto-Rhapsody for cello and orchestra (1963), and Concerto-Rhapsody for piano and orchestra (1968). The composer has several times shared his thoughts about the willingness to compose the Forth Concerto-Rhapsody featuring all of the three concert instruments joining together at the end of composition… In 1971, the State Prize was awarded for the triad of Concerto-Rhapsodies.

Khachaturian spent much effort to pedagogical work. For quite a long period of time he directed the composition class at Moscow Conservatory after P. I. Chaykovsky and at Gnesin Music Institute. Developing the pedagogical principles of his teacher Myaskovsky, and based on own life and creative experience, Khachaturian created his private composers’ school.

The private life of the composer was also rich in events. Khachaturian had a daughter Nuneh from the first marriage; she was a pianist. In 1933, Khachaturian got married for the second time to Nina Makarova, a student from Myaskovsky’s class, who’d become a faithful helpmate of the composer. Together they had a son, Karen Khachaturian (at the present he is a known art critic).

A myriad of prizes witness a universal recognition of creative work of Aram Khachaturian. In 1963, Khachaturian was elected a full member of Armenian Soviet Republic’s Academy of Sciences, honorary academician of Italian Music Academy “Santa Cecilia” (1960), honorary professor of Mexican Conservatory (1960), corresponding member of the Academy of Arts of GDR (1960). Aram Khachaturian had the titles of Professor and Doctor of Art Criticism (1965).

The Big Philharmonic Hall in Yerevan, a string quartet and an annual competition of pianists and composers are named after A.Khachaturian.

Unknown Khachaturian

Khachaturian loved animals very much. A royal poodle was gifted to him in Germany whom he named Lado (by the names of musical notes la and do).
He enjoyed walking with Lado immensely. He doted on his dog so much that even dedicated to it a musical piece entitled “Lado fell seriously ill”.


A performance of the ballet “Spartacus”, the last one in Khachaturian’s life, was on in Yerevan. An excellent production, a faultless ballet troupe and by Yan Chang and Y.Voskanyan conducting the orchestra were on the stage. However, in the middle of the first act Khachaturian suddenly got up and went away. The act finished, but Khachaturian wouldn’t show up. After a while, he was found in a street not far from the Opera House.
“If I had stayed, I would have caused a terrible scandal,” – said Khachaturian in a temper. To the puzzled questions of the people surrounding him, “What has happened? The production and orchestra are excellent, aren’t they?”, Khachaturian exclaimed, “They have cut 4 bars of my music!!!”
Though the audience naturally didn’t notice that, but such a fact just exasperated the composer (who was a very disciplinary musician, extremely exacting to performers).


After the war, Yerevan hospitals were full of casualties. Having come to Yerevan, Khachaturian wished to give a concert in one of the hospitals. The music was punctuated by his interesting stories of musicians’ life during the war years. Among Khachaturian’s recollections there was the following funny story. Once during the evacuation, at a railway station, Khachaturian, Oistrakh and Shostakovich were terribly hungry. To get out of the critical situation helped Oistrakh who jokingly suggested giving a performance right there. Nevertheless, Khachaturian and Shostakovich found the idea attractive and agreed with pleasure. As a reward for the improvised performance, the great musicians got a dinner.


When in 1944 a contest was announced for creating the National Anthem of Armenia, Khachaturian arrived in Yerevan with his music version written on Sarmen’s words. Once in the dead of the night, having sat in front of the piano surrounded by his family, he began singing and playing his anthem.
It was a summer night and everyone had their windows open. It turned out that lots of people gathered round and round (in the balconies, at their homes, in the street), and at the end of the improvised performance Khachaturian heard them singing his newly created music.

Erebuni - October 31, 2011 02:01 AM (GMT)
Sayat Nova (Harutyun Sayakyan)

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Sayat Nova/King of Songs

Armenians are fortunate that the tradition of troubadour music and the artists who created the music has been passed on. The body of songs, created by numerous well-known "kousans", are commonly known and used by the general population ... after many generations.

The great Armenian troubadour Sayat Nova was born in 1712 to a peasant family in the village of Sanahin, not far from Tiflis, the capital of the Caucasian nation of Georgia. Named Haroutiun Sayakian at birth, the great musician and lyric poet is remembered by the Armenians as Sayat Nova or King of Songs, an homage to his status in the Armenian community.

As a boy, Haroutiun gained regional recognition for his fine singing voice, interpretations of folk songs, and as an emerging virtuoso of the kemenche ( a violin-like instrument with 3 strings, tuned in 4ths and played with a bow, using the German-style bowing often employed by bass players. The normal playing position for the kemenche is on the left knee, fingered by the left hand, and bowed with the right.) The young man also enjoyed some fame as the author or lyric poetry.

In his early teens the Sayakian family moved to Tiflis, the capitol of the Kingdom of Georgia. Tiflis, or Tbilisi, was then as it remains today, an important center of Armenian culture, music and literature. It is generally acknowledged that Sayat Nova served as an apprentice to a weaver. There are references to this detail in some of his songs. Weaving, dyeing of wool, and preparation of products for the weaving industry has long been a "signature" trade of the Armenian peasant community in this region of historic Armenia.

On a daily basis Haroutiun Sayakian was exposed to the rich tradition of troubadour performances in the area. Many of these performers, referred to as kousans, are known to this day. The title kousan is added as a prefix to the name of a well known artist. (ie. Kousan Ashot, Kousan Setrag, etc.) Had Haroutiun not been endowed with the name Sayat Nova, he is likely to have been known as Kousan Haroutiun.

Sayat Nova was renowned for his superb command of the Armenian language. But his fluency in Georgian, Persian, and Azerbaijani allowed him to perform for the widest possible audience, and to gain fame far beyond his own ethnic group. The cosmopolitan community of Tiflis embraced him and made this young Armenian genius their own. The known body of songs attributed to Sayat Nova numbers about 220, the true volume of work is likely to have been in the thousands. It should be noted that these works, though notated in the 19th century, have been largely passed down as an aural tradition. The songs are in the standard repertory of every Armenian musician, and are widely known in every Armenian community.
As his fame spread, Sayat Nova was summoned to the Court of Heracle II, the 18th century King of Georgia. The King placed him in the service of the Court as a Royal Musician and Poet. His popularity and skill even allowed him to become a trusted advisor to the King in matters of state and relations with foreign powers. In this area, Sayat Nova is believed to have "brokered" an alliance between the Caucasian nations of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan in the struggle to liberate themselves from Persian domination.

His fall from grace in the Court is likely to have been caused by his love for the King's sister, Princess Anna. The King, fearing the power and influence that would likely accrue to Sayat Nova as a result of a marriage to Anna, expelled the great kousan from the Court.

Sayat Nova spent the remainder of his life as an itinerant bard and singer, plying his services and skills wherever possible. As is traditional for musicians, he is likely to have performed daily in the simplest venues, perhaps even providing extemporaneous entertainment.

Sayat Nova, the greatest of the Armenia kousans, was killed in 1795, by the invading forces of the Persian Knight, Agha Mohammed Khan.
He is the most revered of all the Armenian troubadours.

Prof. Leon Janikian, Northeastern University

Note: A clarification on the part of the article that makes a reference to "Azerbaijani." There is no such language, "azeris" speak a form of turkish.

Erebuni - October 31, 2011 02:01 AM (GMT)
Komitas (Soghomon Soghomonyan)

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Komitas, a.k.a. Soghomon Soghomonyan, was born on September 26, 1869 in Anatolia, Turkey, in the town of Koutina (Ketaia). His father, Gevorg Soghomonyan was a shoemaker but he also composed songs and had a beautiful voice. The composer’s mother – Tagui - was also singled out for her vivid musical abilities; she was a carpet weaver.

Komitas’s childhood was joyless and full of deprivations. He lost his mother when he was less than one year old, and because his father was too busy his grandmother took care of him. At age 7 Komitas entered the local elementary school. As soon as he finished school his father sent him to Broosa to continue his education. However, he failed and 4 months later he came home having ultimately become an orphan: his father passed away and Soghomon was only 11 years old…

“He was a frail, weak, pale boy, always thoughtful and kind. He was dressed poorly,” one of his classmates recalled about Komitas.
Soghomon was often seen sleeping on the cold stones of the laundry room.
He could sing perfectly, and no wonder in Koutina he was nicknamed “a little vagrant singer”.

For his delightful voice Soghomonyan was also indebted to an event that fundamentally changed the entire course of his life.
In 1881 the priest of Koutina, G. Dertsakyan, had to leave for Echmiadzin to be ordained a bishop. At the request of the Catholicos he brought the gifted orphan boy with him to study at the Echmiadzin Church Seminary. Twelve-year old Soghomon was selected out of the other 20 orphans to study at the Seminary. As it was forbidden to speak Armenian at that time the boy spoke Turkish and when being greeted by the Catholicos Gevorg IV, he replied, “I don’t speak Armenian, if you wish I will sing”. Then with his fine soprano voice he sang an Armenian sharakan (a church hymn) without understanding the words. Due to his exclusive aptitude Soghomon overcame all the obstacles in a very short time and perfectly learned Armenian.

In 1890 Soghomon was ordained a monk.

In 1893 he finished studying at the seminary, then he was ordained a “Vardapet” (priest) and acquired his new name “Komitas” - the name of the outstanding poet of VII century, the author of sharakans. At the seminary Komitas was assigned to teach music.
Along with teaching, Komitas organized a choir, an orchestra of folk instruments, and treated folk songs; he made the first researches in the field of Armenian Church music.

In 1895 Komitas was ordained an archimandrite. In the autumn of the same year he left for Tiflis to study at the musical college. However, when he met the composer Makar Yekmalyan, who had received his education at the conservatory of Petersburg, he changed his mind and started studying a course on harmony by that composer. These studies became the original forerunner and the firm basis for gaining the European technique of composition.

The further events of Komitas’s life had to do with the large music center in Europe – Berlin, where he went to study under the protection of the Catholicos, being financed by the largest Armenian oil magnate Alexander Mantashyan.

Komitas entered the private conservatory of Professor Richard Schmidt. Within the conservatory Komitas took private classes on singing, elaborating his beautiful voice, fine baritone. Simultaneously with these classes, he also attended the lectures on Philosophy, Esthetics, General History and History of Music. During these academic years he had an opportunity to “communicate” with European music, continually enriching the supply of knowledge, and engaging in musical criticism. Upon the invitation of the International Music Association he held lectures devoted to the Armenian church and contemporary music in comparison with Turkish, Arabic and Kurdish music.

In September 1899 Komitas returned to Echmiadzin and started his musical activity right away. In a short period he radically changed the system of teaching music in the seminary, organized a small orchestra and perfected the performance level of the choir.

He visited various regions of Armenia treating and putting down thousands of Armenian, Kurdish, Persian and Turkish songs.
He started serious scientific research work, studied Armenian folk and church melodies and worked on the decipherment of Armenian khazzes and on the theory of voices. In various countries of the world Komitas appeared as a performer and propagandist of Armenian music.

The composer began thinking over big, monumental musical forms. He had in mind to create the musical epic “Sasna tsrer” and continued working on the opera “Anush”, which he started back in 1904.

Komitas focused on the themes concerning folk music and revealed the content of folk songs. No doubt, such world outlook had to result in an inescapable conflict between Komitas and the Church. Gradually the indifference of new leaders, negative attitude of the backward group of the church figures, gossip and slander increased so much that it poisoned the life of the composer: the man who remained in the imagination of the contemporaries as an absolutely worldly man.

The conflict turned so tense that Komitas sent a letter to the Catholicos begging him to release him and let him create and live quietly. This request remained unanswered, and the persecution of Komitas became more obvious.

In 1910 Komitas left Etchmiadzin and went to Constantinopole. There he expected to find the environment that would understand him, protect him, and encourage his activity; and here he would be able to fulfill his dreams. Komitas wanted to establish a National Conservatory with which he connected the further destiny of his people’s music. But the composer failed to accomplish this plan (as well as many others). His inspired ideas were only faced with the cold indifference of the local authorities.
In Constantinopole Komitas organized a mixed choir of 300 men and called it “Gousan”. It was very popular. Armenian folk songs constituted most of its concerto program.

Komitas would often spend his time touring, giving presentations and lectures; he also acted as a soloist and conductor. He had the baritone, original for its richness and expressiveness. Due to the wide range of his voice Komitas could also sing part of the tenor. He also wonderfully mastered the flute and the piano. He was endowed with great power to influence his audience.

The well-known musicians: Vincent D’Andy, Gabriel Fore, Camille Sen-Sans… fell in love with Komitas’ creative work.
In 1906 after one of the concertos the outstanding French composer Claude Debussi exclaimed excitedly: “Brilliant father Komitas! I bow before your musical genius!”

In Constantinople Komitas could not find any unconditional like-minded people who would help him implement his plans. Moreover, while in Echmiadzin he was together with his native people and close to its living style and art, in Constantinople he was deprived of it. Nevertheless, he continued to work hard. Komitas paid special attention to the composition of church music. His masterpiece “Patarag” (“Liturgy”) is written for the male chorus.

Musicology was also an important field for him. In Paris at the Conference of the International Music Society he gave two presentations: “Armenian Folk Music” and “On Old and New Notation of Armenian Spiritual Music”. These provoked great interest among the participants of the conference. Komitas was also requested to give a spontaneous presentation on the topic: “On Time, Place, Accentuation and Rhythm of Armenian Music.”

In the period of World War I the government of Young Turks initiated their monstrous program on violent and inhumane extermination of part of the Armenian people. In April 1915, Komitas was arrested together with the number of outstanding Armenian writers, publicists, physicians, and lawyers. After the arrest, accompanied by violence, he was deported far in Anatolia where he became a witness of the brutal extermination of the nation’s bright minds. And in spite of the fact that due to the intervention of influential figures Komitas was returned to Constantinople, the nightmare he had experienced left a deep ineradicable impression on his soul. Komitas remained in seclusion from the outer world, absorbed in his gloomy and heavy thoughts – sad and broken.
In 1916 Komitas’ health deteriorated and he was put in a psychiatric hospital. However, there was no hope that he would recover. The medicine was powerless against the destructive disease.

The genius of Armenian music found his final shelter in Paris, in the suburban sanatorium Vil-Jouif where he spent almost 20 years of his life.

On the 22nd of October the life of the Great Komitas came to an end. In the spring of 1936 his remains were transported to Armenia and buried in Yerevan – in the Pantheon of prominent art figures.

No less tragic was the destiny of Komitas’ creative legacy. The majority of his manuscripts were destroyed or lost all over the world…

“The Armenian people found and recognized its soul, its spiritual nature” in Komitas’ songs. Komitas Vardapet is a beginning having no end. He will live through the Armenian people, and they must live through him, now and forever”. (Vazgen I, the Catholicos of all Armenians)

Erebuni - October 31, 2011 02:06 AM (GMT)
Khachatur Avetisyan

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A Famous Figure in Armenian Folk music

Khachatur Avetisyan (1926–1996) was an influential Armenian composer.Avetisyan was born in Leninakan, Armenian SSR (now Gyumri). He graduated from Yerevan State Music Conservatory where he studied with Professor Edvard Mirzoyan. At age of 25 he was the first Armenian composer honored with gold medal in the Berlin and Moscow international competitions. In addition to his studies in classical music, Avetisyan became a famous figure in the Armenian folk music and traditional instruments, especially the kanun. He composed the first Concert of Kanun and Symphony Orchestra in 1954: Avetisyan founded the Folk Music Department of the Komitas National Conservatory in 1978 where, under his guidance, entire generations of master instrumentalists were trained. He created numerous famous songs, ballet, oratorio, film and dance music, as well as a large number of works for various folk instruments. In 1958 he assumed the role of the artistic director of National Dance Ensemble, and later, the Tatoul Altunian Song and Dance Ensemble. He married Armenian folk dancer Sona Avetisyan. His son Dr. Mikael Avetisyan is the former conductor of Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra, who is currently music director of the Armenian Society of Los Angeles Choir.

Did you know?

Khachatur Avesisyan composed many soundtrack musics for different films, such as “Khatabala”.

Erebuni - October 31, 2011 02:08 AM (GMT)
Aleksandr Spendiaryan

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Alexander Spendiarian
Conductor, Composer

Alexander Afanasi (Stepanos) Spendiarian (born in Kakhovka (Kherson region, Ukraine), on October 20, 1871).

Composer, conductor, Professor of music, public and cultural figure. People's Artist of the Republic of Armenia (1926). The founder of Symphony Music in Armenia.

Alexander Spendiarian graduated from the Moscow University, Department of Law in 1895. While at the University he mastered violin and played in the student orchestra. He studied theory of composition with N.Klenowsky in Moscow from 1892 to 1894 and with N. Kimsky-Korsakov in St.Petersburg from 1896 to 1900. He lived in Crimea for quite a while, where he was involved in music related activities particularly, conducting.

On May 7, 1928, Mr.Spendiarian moved to Yerevan, Armenia for good. It was a decision of epochal and historic value due to the fact, that at that time the first Armenian Symphony Orchestra was founded and put on the right track, Armenian symphony music was created and further developed, the school of Armenian composition was established and classical music was popularized in Armenia. Alexander Spendiarian played an important role in establishing national school of composition, its artistic principles and characteristic style. He enriched the Armenian music with new artistic concepts, topics, variety of genres, expressive means, creating the foundation of National Armenian symphonism.

Spendiarian's "Crimean Sketches" (two suites composed in 1903 and 1912), "Yerevan Etudes" (1925) and his other symphonic compositions are among the best works in the treasury of the Armenian classical music.

Alexander Spendiarian's contribution to the establishment of the first Armenian Symphony Orchestra, its formation and evolution, the process of extending the orchestra to a full size one, cannot be overestimated. He coached the Armenian symphony orchestra, first together with Arshak Adamian until 1926, and then alone, until he passed away in 1928.


Pictures from his house-museum:

Other Bio:


Erebuni - October 31, 2011 02:08 AM (GMT)

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".


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.


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.


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.

Erebuni - October 31, 2011 02:09 AM (GMT)
Arno Babajanyan

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Website (in Russian):

Arno Babadjanian

He was born in 1921 in Yerevan, and died in 1983. In 1947 he graduated from the Yerevan Conservatory, the class of compositions after V.Talian. In 1948 he graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, the class for piano of K. Igumnov. Meanwhile, from 1946 until 1948, he improved himself with the compositions of G. Litinski in the Music Studio of the Armenian Culture House in Moscow.

Main works

“Heroic Ballad” for piano with orchestra (1950)
Trio for piano, violin and violoncello (1952)
“Vagharshapat’s Dance” for piano (1946)
Sonata for violin and piano (1959)
“Polyphonic sonata” (1947, 1956)
Capritchio (1963)
“Six pictures” for piano (1965)
String quartet (1970)
“Poem” for piano (1968)

Music for Film and Variety

“The first love melody”

A member of the Composers’ Union of Armenia.

Arno Babajanian
Died in 1983.

The 85th anniversary of Arno Babajanian, a distinquished composer of the 20th century, the USSR People's Artist, the State Awards laureate of Armenia was on January 22.

Arno Babajanian was born in Yerevan. Babajanian's childhood friend composer Alexander Haroutiunian mentions that starting with the age 5-6 Babajanian attempted to play the old piano of the kindergarten, and one may say that he already made the first steps in music. A.Babajanian used to tell about his and world-famous composer Aram Khachatrian's meeting: "When I was a kindergarten child, a man once visited us and asked to sing to get to know who of us had music ear. I was singing and kicking the floor at the same time. Listening to me, that man said that I must be engaged in music. In future I learnt that the man was Aram Khachatrian."

Babajanian composed in different genres: classic, pop music, jazz music, musical, etc. His songs: "Memory," "I Ask You," "Song of First Love," "Yerevan" were very popular in former Soviet countries. His songs were performed by USSR People's Artists Iosif Kobzon, Alla Pugachova, Muslim Magomayev, Eduard Khil, Zhan Tatlian, Raisa Mkrtchian, Bella Darbinian and other famous singers.

"Babajanian is one of those individuals who are called to represent a whole nation, its fate and the spirit of lifetime. The artist becomes such one not only owing to the talent given his from above but by his motives of a patriot, by sense of responsibilities having towards the people," composer Ghazaros Sarian wrote.

USSR People's Artist Khoren Abrahamian used to repeat that "Arno was the most talented artist of the Armenian reality of the second half of the 20th century as the God gifted him greatest genius."

Events dedicated to the composers' 85th anniversary will be organized during the year in Armenia, Russia, France and U.S.

Noyan Tapan Jan 23 2006

Arno Babajanian

If Arno Babajanian (1921-1983) is an unfamiliar name in the West, he is a national hero in his native Armenia and quite well known in Russia. Babajanian was born in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. By age 5, Babajanian’s extraordinary musical talent was clearly apparent, and the composer Aram Khachaturian suggested that the boy be given proper music training. Two years later, in 1928 at the age of 7, Babajanian entered the Yerevan Conservatory. In 1938, he continued his studies in Moscow with Vissarion Shebalin. He later returned to Yerevan, where from 1950-1956 he taught at the conservatory. It was during this period (1952) that he wrote the Piano Trio in f# sharp minor. It received immediate acclaim and was regarded as a masterpiece from the time of its premiere. Subsequently, he undertook concert tours throughout the Soviet Union and Europe. In 1971, he was named a People’s Artist of the Soviet Union. As a composer, Babajanian was active in most genres and even wrote many popular songs in collaboration with the leading poets such as Yevgeni Yevtushenko and Robert Rozhdestvensky among others. Much of Babajanian’s music is rooted in Armenian folk music and folklore. But generally, the way in which he uses uses Armenian folk music is in the virtuosic style of Rachmaninov and Khachaturian. His later works were influenced by Prokofiev and Bartók.

Erebuni - November 23, 2011 05:32 AM (GMT)

Sahakduxt (fl early 8th century). Armenian hymnographer, poet and pedagogue. Sister of the music theorist Step‘annos Siwnec‘i, she was an ascetic who lived in a cave in the Garni valley (near Erevan) and produced ecclesiastical poems and liturgical chants. Srp‘uhi Mariam (‘Saint Mary’), consisting of nine stanzas in acrostic formation, is her only verse to have survived. Reportedly many of her sarakaner (hymns) were devoted to the Mother of God (akin to the theotokion in the music of the Byzantine rite) and helped to shape the development of the genre during subsequent centuries. Seated behind a curtain, as the mores of the period required, Sahakduxt taught sacred melodies to clerical students and lay music lovers.


S. Orbelyan: Pamut‘yun nahangin Sisakan [History of the Province of Sis] (Tbilisi, 1910), 139
Archbishop Covakan Norayr [Polarian]: Sahakduxt Siwenc‘I ev Srp‘uhi Mariam [Sahakduxt of Siunik and Saint Mary], Hask (Antilias, 1951), 366-7
M. Ormanian: Azgapatum [National History], i (Beirut, 2/1959), 867-8
D. Der Hovhanessian and M. Margossian, trans. And eds.: Anthology of Armenian Poetry (New York, 1978), 45-6
G. A. Hakobyan: Sarakaneri zanre hay mijnadaryan grakannt‘yan mej [The Genre of the sarakan in Medieval Armenian Literature) (Erevan, 1980),



Xosroviduxt [Khosrovidukht] (fl early 8th century). Armenian hymnographer and poet. Following the abduction of her brother by Muslim Arabs, Xosroviduxt, who was of royal blood, was taken to the fortress of Ani-Kamakh (now Kemah), where she lived in isolation for 20 years. She is reported to have written the sarakan (canonical hymn), ‘Zarmanali e inj’ (‘Wondrous it is to me’), which honours the memory of her brother, killed in 737 for reclaiming his Christian faith. Despite its secular subject, this florid sarakan has been sanctioned by the Armenian Church for use during service.


L. Alisan: Husikk‘ hayreneac‘ hayoc‘ [Memories from the Land of the Armenians]. ii (St Lazar, 2/1921), 136
H. Acaryan: Hayoc‘ anjnanunneri bararan [Dictionary of Armenian Proper Names] (Beirut, 2/1972), 539
D. Der Hovanessian and M. Margossian, trans. And eds.: Anthology of Armenian Poetry (New York, 1978). 43-4
G. A. Hakobyan: Sarakaneri zanre hay mijnadaryan grakannt‘yan mej [The Genre of the sarakan in Medieval Armenian Literature) (Erevan, 1980), 167-71
N. T‘ahizyan, ed.: Hay ergi goharner: Oskep‘orik [Treasures of Armenian Song: a Collectarium] (Erevan, 1982), 26-7


Text from:

Arzruni, Sahan. The Norton/Grove Dictionary of Women Composers (1994).

Erebuni - June 4, 2013 04:54 AM (GMT)
Serob Levonyan (ASHUGH JIVANI)

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Jivani is the founder of the national bards craft school. He purified the Armenian folk songs from foreign music and dialectical expressions by enhancing with folk music elements and was the creator of many melodies.

Jivani (Serobev (Serob) Levonyan) became an orphan at the age of 6, he grew up under the care of his uncle. He received his first bard music education from his fellow villager Ghara Ghazar (Siayi), mastered the accepted rules, learnt to play on a violin and qaman as well.

Jivani left for Tbilisi in 1867 with ashugh Sazayu (Aghajyan) who was touring in Kartsakh, sang in an café for 1 year which belonged to an Armenian, gained fame, from where he was invited by café owner Taloyans. (Jamalina, Sheram and singer Sheram Talyan are coming from this family).

During 1868–95 Jivani lived in Alexandrapol and worked with famous bards such as Jamali, Jahri, Maluli, Gheyrati and Fizayi got aquanted with writer Raffi, Patkanyan and others, stutdied the history and folklore of the people of Armenian and eastern countries. All of this left an unerassable influence on Jivani's viewpoint and the literary activity. Before the 1880s, his songs were published in different journals and in the volume of «Sokhak Armenia» song book.

With 25 member band Jivani often performed in Alexandrapol. He also visited Derbend, Makhachkala, Rostov, Kharkov and other Armenian populated villages by introducing the best examples of the Armenian folk songs (Sayat-Nova, Miskin-Burji, Shiran and others).

In order to improve his family condition and in order to educate his children Jivani moves to Tbilisi in 1895, where living was hard. Jivani died couple of months later after his last performance in October, 1908.

Jivani is a classic bard figure. He served people for over 40 years and became the interpreter of their aspirations and dreams.

Sympathizing and supporting poor, sick and desperate people, Jivani is not hesitating to direct his complaints to the people who fraudulently became rich. He writes “The known thieves are the big people now”.

Jivani is deeply connected with his motherland (“Water of my homeland”, “Sweet morning breeze” etc.). He knew the life of an Armenian village very well and was familiar with hard conditions people lived with.

In his moral phycological songs Jivani praise friendship, honesty, commitment, selfsecrifice, love towards parents and children and censures greediness, misery, ungratefulness and calls for follow the light and science (“Qo papazov”, “Friend”, “Buck”, “By the cold spring”, etc.).

Jivani continued and deepened the traditions for creating unique melodies developed by Naghash Hovnatani and Sayat-Nova.

Jivani's language is simple, homely and enhanced with peoples' word and essence. He highly benefited the development of the scientific dialect.

Jivani's song celebration is organized in Kartsakh, annualy the last Sunday of June. On 150th anniversary of Jivani in 1996, a scientific conference was organized in Yerevan, Jivani's bust was installed during the same year, statue in Akhalqalak, 2006 (sculptor Artashes Hovsepyan), a movie was shot about him called “The poet's return” (2007, directed by Harutyun Khachatryan). With “Sayat-Nova” cultural union efforts “Ashugh Jivani; Unknown songs” book was published in 2009.

There is a bard school named after Jivani in Yerevan, Gyumri and other places.


Erebuni - July 28, 2013 03:20 PM (GMT)

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Armen Tigranyan was a composer, conductor, honorable figure in the Armenian, Georgian USR and the founder of the Armenian national opera.

Armen Tigranyan played on flute at his early age, participated in school brass band concerts. His music talent was shaped by the Shirak music school, folk music and features of bard music. Famous artists, poets were common guests at his house, where literature-music evenings were organized.

In 1894 Tigranyan moved to Tbilisi with his family. In 1902 he graduated from courses of flute and music theory, (teacher Nikolay Klenovski), at the same time he took classes from Mark Ekmalyan. The same year Tigranyan returned back to Alexandrapol*, organized school and folk a four-part choir and traveled with them to Tbilisi, Baku and Kars. His first works were composed at this period. In 1908 Tigranyan started working on his first opera called “Anush” (written by Hovhannes Tumanyan), which founded a new genre direction in the Armenian theater. Parts of the opera were played in Tblisi during the period. The opera “Anush” first was played in 1912 in Alexandrapol. During the next 30 years the composer referred to “Anush” and made some changes, additions and reconsidered the instrumentation.

The opera “Anush” was first played in Yerevan opera and bally theater in 1935, in Moscow in 1939. The opera is unique with its colorful sceneries of holidays and costumes, folk songs, duets and group singings. Music composed by Tigranyan is known as folk music.

Tigranyan also composed for (Tigran Khamuryan’s “In the crawls of darkness”, Armen Gulakyan’s “Dawn”, “Gigor”, “A drop of a honey”, (both written by Hovhannes Tumanyan), “Anahit” written by Ghazaros Aghayan, “Namus” written by Alexandr Shirvanzade, “Samvel”, “Davit Bek” both written by Raffi and others). Juzeppe Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and George Bize’s “Carmen” operas.

Streets, music schools in Yerevan and Gyumri have been named after Tigranyan, his statue has been placed in Yerevan’s circular park. There is a museum named after Armen Tigranyan in Gyumri.


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