While I was deciding what I would like to blog about today that centralizes on the theme of both Armenian and music, a nugget of information virtually fell in my lap.
Probably one of the most iconic figures in classical music celebrates a birthday today – Aram Khachaturian. He would have been 112 years old. He was only 12 years old when the Armenian Genocide occurred.
So much has been written about Khachaturian over the years that recounting his life in this blog would be both plagiarism and simply a waste of time. However, it did allow me to brush up on my knowledge of who he was and how important he was not only to the classical world – but to the Armenian music world.
Khachaturian was a true virtuoso. He played the tuba, cello, and was a self-taught pianist. The world knows Khachaturian as a composer and conductor from the Soviet-era. His first composition established Khachaturian as a house-hold-name. For the most part, this is what most may know of him.
One might refer to him as “very-Armenian”. a composer who never forgot his heritage and gave back to it several times over. He was “very-Soviet” as well, composing the Anthem of the Armenian SSR in the early 1940s.
Great Russia extended to us the hand of friendship
We created a strong new state.
Our wise Party of Lenin,
Is victoriously leading us to Communism
Definitely interesting lyrics, but most appropriate for the time in which Khachaturian lived and worked under the Soviet regime.
What I didn’t realize was the profound impact Komitas Vardapet had on Khachaturian and his compositions throughout his life and career. Khachaturian acknowledged that Komitas “singlehandedly laid the foundations for Armenia’s classical tradition.”
I also didn’t realize that Khachaturian transcribed Armenian, Russian, Hungarian, and Turkish folk songs. This is also something Komitas was known for prior to the Genocide.
I leave you with a quote that I tweeted out that Khachaturian made and still holds true today: “The more impressions that come from contact with life, the more and better the creative ideas”.
Happy Birthday Mr. Khachaturian!