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Aram Il'yich Khachaturian

(1903 - 1978)

Aram Khachaturian was born on June 6th in 1903 in Tbilisi, Georgia, Imperial Russia to a poor Armenian family.

In his youth, he was fascinated by the music he heard around him.

In 1921, he traveled to Moscow to join his brother, unable to speak a word of Russian.

Although he had almost no musical education, Khachaturian showed such great talent that he was admitted to the Gnessin Institute where he studied cello under Mikhail Gnessin and entered a composition class (1925).

In 1929, he transferred to the Moscow Conservatory and in 1951, he became professor at the Gnessin State Musical and Pedagogical Institute (Moscow) and the Moscow Conservatory.

He later assumed an important place in the Union of Soviet Composers and implemented one aspect of official cultural policy in his use of regional Armenian subjects.

Although he did not turn to composition until late, he was a prolific writer and his vigorous music reflects the influence of the folk songs he heard as a child.

He died in Moscow on May 1, 1978, just short of his 75th birthday.

Khachaturian was buried in Yerevan, Armenia, along with other distinguished Armenians who made Armenian art accessible for the whole world.

Khachaturian's works include concertos for violin, cello, flute and piano and the ballets Spartak (AKA Spartacus) and Gayane (which was used in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey).

The latter ballet features in it's final act what is probably his most famous movement, the "Sabre Dance".

He also composed some film music and incidental music for plays such as the 1941 production of Mikhail Lermontov's Masquerade.

The cinematic quality of his music for Spartacus was clearly seen when it was used as the theme for a popular BBC drama series, The Onedin Line, during the 1970's.

Since then, it has become one of the most popular of all classical pieces for UK audiences.

He was also the composer for the state anthem of the Armenian S.S.R., whose tune is one of the five current choices to become the next state anthem of Armenia.



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