Khachaturian, Aram (Ilich)

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Khachaturian, Aram (Ilich)

Khachaturian, Aram (Ilich), brilliant Russian composer of Armenian descent, uncle of Karen (Suren-ovich) Khachaturian; b. Tiflis, June 6, 1903; d. Moscow, May 1, 1978. He played tuba in the school band, and also studied biology. He then went to Moscow and entered the Gnessin Music School (1922–25); later studied composition with Gnessin (1925–29). In 1929 he became a student at the Moscow Cons., graduating in 1934 in the class of Miaskovsky; finished his postgraduate studies there (1937). He commenced composing at the age of 21, and soon progressed to the first rank of Soviet composers of his generation. His music was in the tradition of Russian Orientalism; he applied the characteristic scale progressions of Caucasian melos, without quoting actual folk songs. His Sabre Dance from his ballet Gayane became popular all over the world. In 1948 he was severely criticized by the Central Committee of the Communist party, along with Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and others, for modernistic tendencies; although he admitted his deviations in this respect, he continued to compose essentially in his typical manner, not shunning highly dissonant harmonic combinations. He was made a People’s Artist of the U.S.S.R. in 1954. He appeared as a conductor of his own throughout Europe and in Japan. He made his American debut in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23, 1968, conducting the National Sym. Orch. in a program of his works. A critical ed. of his works was publ. in Moscow (1982 et seq.). In 1933 he married Nina Makarova.


dramatic: Ballet: Shchastye (Happiness; Yerevan, 1939; Moscow, Oct. 24, 1939); Gayane (1940-42; Perm, Dec. 9, 1942; rev. 1952 and 1957; 3 symphonic suites, 1943; includes the immensely popular Sabre Dance); Spartak (Sparta-cus; 1950-56; Leningrad, Dec. 26, 1956; rev. 1957-58; 4 symphonic suites: Nos. 1-3, 1955, and No. 4, 1966). incidental m u s i c:The Widow of Valencia (1939-40; orch. suite, 1953); Masquerade (1940; orch. suite, 1944). f i 1 m:The Battle of Stalingrad (Moscow, Dec. 9, 1949). orch.:Dance Suite (1932-33); 3 syms.: No. 1 (1932-33; Moscow, April 23, 1935), No.2 (Moscow, Dec. 30, 1943; rev., Moscow, March 6, 1944), and No.3 for 15 Solo Trumpets, Orch., and Organ (Leningrad, Dec. 13, 1947); Piano: Concerto (1936; Leningrad, July 5, 1937); Violin Concerto (Moscow, Nov. 16, 1940; transcribed for Flute by J.-P. Rampai, 1968); 2 Armenian Dances for Cavalry Band (1943); Solemn Overture (1945); Russian Fantasy (1946); Cello Concerto (1945-46; Moscow, Oct. 30, 1946); Ode in Memory of Lenin (Moscow, Dec. 26, 1948); Concerto-Rhapsody for Piano and Orch. (1955–68); Salutation, overture (1958–59); Concerto-Rhapsody for Violin and Orch. (1961-62; Yaroslavl, Oct. 7, 1962; Moscow, Nov.3, 1962); Concerto-Rhapsody for Cello and Orch. (1963; Gorky, Jan. 4, 1964). chamber:Song-Poem for Violin and Piano (1929); Violin Sonata (1932); String Quartet (1932); Trio for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano (1932); Jazz Composition for Clarinet (1966; written for Benny Goodman); Sonata-Monologue for Solo Cello (1974); Sonata-Fantasia for Solo Violin (1975). Piano: 2 albums of children’s pieces (1926-47; 1965); Poem (1927); 7 Fugues with Recitatives (1928-66); Suite (1932); Toccata (1932); Suite, 3 pieces for 2 Pianos (1945); Sonatina (1952); Sonata (1961). vocal:Poem about Stalin for Chorus and Orch. (Moscow, Nov. 29, 1938); 3 Concert Arias for Soprano and Orch. (1946); Ode to Joy for Mezzo-soprano, Chorus, 10 Harps, Unison Violins, Band, and Orch. (1955); Ballade about the Fatherland for Bass and Orch. (1961); In Memory of the Heroes, cantata for Soprano, Men’s Chorus, and Orch. (1976; a reworking of The Battle of Stalingrad); songs.


I. Martynov, A. K. (Moscow, 1956); G. Schneerson, A. K. (Moscow, 1960); G. Khubov, A. K. (Moscow, 1962; 2nd ed., 1966); V Tigranov, A.I. K. (Leningrad, 1978; new ed., 1987); V. Iuzefovich, A. K. (N.Y., 1985; Russian tr., Moscow, 1990).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire