Khachaturian, Aram

Aram Khachaturian is widely known for his Piano Concerto (1936) and the ballet Gayane (1942), which contains the common and rhythmically stirring Sabre Dance. Khachaturian studied at the Moscow Conservatory and the Gnesin State Musical and Pedagogical Institute and was a lecturer at both schools from 1951. He was inspired by contemporary Western music as a young composer, especially that of Maurice Ravel. This presence was supplanted by an increasing love of folk customs, not only of his Armenian forefathers but also of Georgia, Russia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan, in his Symphony No. 1 (1935) and later works. For the 25th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, he composed Symphony No. 2 (1943). A symphonic suite, Masquerade (1944; from incidental music to a play by Mikhail Lermontov); the ballets Happiness (1939) and Spartak (1953; “Spartacus”); a Third Symphony; a violin concerto (1940); a cello concerto (1946); and several shorter pieces are among his other works. He frequently wrote film scores and incidental songs, as well as the Armenian national anthem.

Khachaturian, along with Dmitry Shostakovich and Sergey Prokofiev, was convicted of bourgeois trends in his music by the Communist Party's Central Committee in 1948. He confessed his remorse and was re-instated in his place of influence. Stalin, however, openly denounced the Central Committee's allegation after his assassination in 1953, and it was officially rescinded in 1958. In 1954, he was elected People's Artist of the Soviet Union, and in 1959, he received the Lenin Prize. Khachaturian's family was well-known in Soviet culture; his wife, Nina Makarova, and nephew, Karen Khachaturian, both served as composers.


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