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Thread: Aram Khachaturyan (1903 - 1978)

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Default Aram Khachaturian

    A great composer, a modern throwback to the days of the Russian "Mighty Handful."

    Often overshadowed by the two great Soviet composers Shostakovich and Prokofiev, Khachaturian is often dismissed as shallow, tacky and generally unimportant. I disagree fully.

    Khachaturian had a gift for lush orchestration and he could write gorgeous melodies. He notably wrote three symphonies, three concerti, music for ballet, piano, wind band and the list goes on.

    I particularly enjoy his 3rd Symphony, music from the ballet Gayne, and his Piano Concerto.

    A much overlooked musical talent.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    three concerti,
    Remember he also composed three Concert Rhapsodies, which I think also qualify as concertos.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Yes, he did also compose three "concerto-rhapsodies". I'm not sure if there are generally considered to be concerti per se, but they are certainly concertante works and in one continuous movement. They are for piano, violin and the composer's own instrument, the cello.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    I positively love the Adagio of Gayaneh from the ballet suites -- not just becasue a snippet was used in Kubrik's 2001:a space odyssey. I like to put it on when I'm emotionally down and just wallow in it. Consequently I usually like this played slower than it often is.

    I know a lady acquaintance (not well - a friend of a friend) who claims to have met and maybe even studied under Khachaturian. She is a Russian immigrant and composer of some note. Though she does not seem very old, I suppose it's conceivable. Perhaps he still taught occassionally into the 1960's and 70's. Does anyone know?

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Khachaturian died in 1978, so I suppose it is possible. He was teacher, even in his later years, too.

    The Adagio from Gayne is a beautifully melancholy little piece. It is used to great effect in 2001.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Often overshadowed by the two great Soviet composers Shostakovich and Prokofiev


    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Khachaturian is often dismissed as shallow, tacky and generally unimportant.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    A much overlooked musical talent.


    I believe those rants are outdated.

    Take a look at wikipedia:
    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    He also held important posts at the Composers’ Union, which would later severely denounce some of his works as being “formalist” music, along with those of Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich. These three composers became the so called “titans” of Soviet music, enjoying world-wide reputation as some of the leading composers of the 20th century.
    Lets check random biographies we get through google:

    Much-loved Soviet composer of Armenian background, who continued vein of colourful Russian exoticism from 19th century composers like Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov
    The year 2003 is declared the year of Aram Khachaturian by the UNESCO, an honor that only outstanding personalities with remarkable contributions to the world’s culture and arts have earned.
    Aram Khachaturian made a unique and historical contribution to the music.
    (Khachaturian) has left a deep legacy of innovation and organic synthesis of the Oriental and Western musical cultures.
    Nowadays, whenever we are about to speak about Khachaturian, we don't need to construct a preface on the words "neglected, overlooked, ignored, overshadowed" anymore.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Outdated rants? I garee that they are not only outdated, but they never were valid rants at any time...in the past or now.

    True, in recent years, Khachaturian has gained even more popularity than when he was alive. There was even a documentray about his life that was made recent that aired here in the U.S., in Britain and other places.

    Khachaturian's music is, perhaps, less challenging then that of Shosty or Proky, thus it is seen (by some) as "lesser." I fully reject the notion that music must be complex and un-tuneful to be thought of as "good." Not saying that Aram's music wasn't complex, but it certainly was the most accessible of the three.

    Glad to see this composer has other supporters.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Khachaturian's music is, perhaps, less challenging then that of Shosty or Proky, thus it is seen (by some) as "lesser."
    Would you please be nice and give us some examples? I mean, which knowledgeable and relevant musical figure expresses in that way about Aram Khachaturian?

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    I must admit that I do not have specific examples off the top of my head, but I've read comments from some people that Khachaturian is all glizt and no sunstance, to paraphrase.

    I've done a lot of reading about Khachaturian (mostly online) and I've seen in other forums where people have dismissed him. I am afraid I did not take names, nor did I make exact notes of the comments in question.

    Notwithstanding, I think it is safe to say most people only really know Shostakovich and Prokofiev's music while Khachaturian's art is an unknown to many. Shosty and Proky certainly have more CD releases.

    Again, I apologize for not being able to bring any specifics to the table.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Senior Member oisfetz's Avatar
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    IMHO, Gayaneh,the violin and cello concertos and the awfully difficult piano sonata are
    some of the better music written in past century. The problem with him is that if you don't
    like armenian melodies, you wouldn't like Aram music.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Notwithstanding, I think it is safe to say most people only really know Shostakovich and Prokofiev's music while Khachaturian's art is an unknown to many.
    But... if that is the case, then he is not underrated but under promoted; if the problem is that "his art is unknown to many". Those who ignore him can not underestimate his works, because they don't actually know them.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Ysaye, my friend, I'm not exactly sure why you are trying to back me into a corner. You're making me sorry I brought any of this up.

    I'm not looking to have someone parse every minute detail of my posts, I'm just trying to say I like Khacahturian. There are some that I have encountered who have heard him and don;t like him, and there are some I have encountered that have not heard him. You're reading too much into how I am writing m sentences and trying to pull out nuance that is not intended on my part.

    The bottom line: I love Khachaturain and I'd like for this thread to become a discussion of his music, not a cross examination of my previous comments.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Ysaye, my friend, I'm not exactly sure why you are trying to back me into a corner. You're making me sorry I brought any of this up.
    I'm not against the subject, and I am not trying to stir your discomfort either. I was just pointing out that pulling out the "Khachaturian defender" badge is not necessary anymore, as he has already achieved the recognition he deserves. And I don't regard this event as a recent one, he was indeed famous in his time: his works were played (from the '50s onwards he would also work as a conductor), he knew and spent time with great Russian figures like Shostakovich, Oistrakh and Kogan. Come on, whenever someone recalls the famous Khrennikov public denounce this three names appear together: Shostakovich, Khachaturian and Prokofiev.


    IMHO, Gayaneh,the violin and cello concertos and the awfully difficult piano sonata are
    some of the better music written in past century. The problem with him is that if you don't
    like armenian melodies, you wouldn't like Aram music.
    I love the tunes and the colorful orchestration, they fly you off to the Caucasus.

    Those who enjoy the works of our Armenian friend should explore the musical output of the Georgian Alexi Matchavariani. His violin concerto is very Kachaturianesque in style (you will find those pseudo oriental flute solos, for example), but the soloist makes a much more... polyphonic appearance.
    Last edited by YsayeOp.27#6; Sep-02-2008 at 02:33.

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    Senior Member Tapkaara's Avatar
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    Very good, then, Ysaye.

    I must admit I do not know Matchavariani, but it sounds great...I'll have to seek it out.

    Another very "Khachaturianesque" composer is Manolis Kalomiris from Greece.
    "Music is not philosophy." --Akira Ifukube

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tapkaara View Post
    Another very "Khachaturianesque" composer is Manolis Kalomiris from Greece.
    I never heard any of his works, I'll have to explore the matter.

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