June 6 Marks the 116th birthday anniversary of world-famous Soviet Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian.
The 15th edition of the Khachaturian International Competition is set to kick off on the great musician’s birthday, bringing together 30 musicians from 12 countries. The opening ceremony will take place at the Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall.
The concert program features Adagio Spartacus and Phrygia from Spartacus Ballet and Piano Concerto in D-flat major, Op. 38 by Aram Khachaturian and Bagatelle for Piano Trio and Orchestr by Georgs Pelecis.
Performing at the concert are renowned Armenian pianist Hayk Melikyan and Khachaturian Trio under the baton of the Armenian State Symphony Orchestra’s conductor Sergey Smbatyan.
As reported earlier, this year’s competition is specialized in piano. The participants represent Armenia, the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, China, South Korea, Thailand, Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
The jury of the 15th Khachaturian International Competition will be chaired by famous pianist and conductor Vag Papian.
The competition runs through June 14. The competition is held under the auspices of Armenian president’s spouse Nouneh Sarkissian and thanks to joint efforts of the Armenian Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport and Aram Khachaturian-Competition Cultural Foundation with the partnership of the Intergovernmental Foundation for Educational, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation of the CIS (IFESCCO).
Born and raised in Tbilisi, the multicultural capital of Georgia, Khachaturian moved to Moscow in 1921 following the Sovietization of the Caucasus. Without prior music training, he enrolled in the Gnessin Musical Institute, subsequently studying at the Moscow Conservatory in the class of Nikolai Myaskovsky, among others.
His first major work, the Piano Concerto (1936), popularized his name within and outside the Soviet Union. It was followed by the Violin Concerto (1940) and the Cello Concerto (1946). His other significant compositions include the Masquerade Suite (1941), the Anthem of the Armenian SSR (1944), three symphonies (1935, 1943, 1947), and around 25 film scores. Khachaturian is best known for his ballet music Gayane (1942) and Spartacus (1954). His most popular piece, the Sabre Dance from Gayane, has been used extensively in popular culture and has been covered by a number of musicians worldwide. His style is “characterized by colorful harmonies, captivating rhythms, virtuosity, improvisations, and sensuous melodies.”
During most of his career, Khachaturian was approved by the Soviet government and held several high posts in the Union of Soviet Composers from the late 1930s, although he joined the Communist Party only in 1943. Along with Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich, he was officially denounced as a “formalist” and his music dubbed “anti-people” in 1948, but was restored later that year. After 1950 he taught at the Gnessin Institute and the Moscow Conservatory, and turned to conducting. He traveled to Europe, Latin America and the United States with concerts of his own works. In 1957 Khachaturian became the Secretary of Union of Soviet Composers, a position he held until his death.
Khachaturian was the most renowned Armenian composer of the 20th century and the author of the first Armenian ballet music, symphony, concerto, and film score. While following the established musical traditions of Russia, he broadly used Armenian and to lesser extent, Caucasian, Eastern and Central European, and Middle Eastern peoples’ folk music in his works. He is highly regarded in Armenia, where he is considered a “national treasure”.