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Karen Khachaturian (Composer)

Karen Khachaturian (born in 1920) is one of the outstanding Russian composers. His father, S.I.Khachaturian, was a well-known theatrical figure, producer of MHT-2 and the founder of the Armenian drama studio in Moscow. K.Khachurian is a student of V.Ja.Shebalin, H.Ja.Miaskovsky and D.D.Shostakovitch, a professor of the Moscow Conservatoire (since 1986), a laureate of the USSR State Prize (1976). He is the author of 4 symphonies, overtures, cantatas, oratorios, orchestral suites, plays for piano, two ballets (“Chippolino”, “Wightsnow”), music for more than 40 movies and 20 theatrical performances. Sonata for violin and piano (successfully performed by D.Oistrakh, L.Kogan, Ja.Kheifets and other outstanding violinists), Sonata for violoncello and piano (performed by М.Rostrapovich), the 2-nd Symphony, ballet “Chippolino” made the composer World famous. His concert for violoncello with orchestra, string quartet, trio for violin, French horn and piano occupy a firm place in concert repertoire. Each of K.Khachaturian’s works clearly demonstrates an acute modern feeling of the musical form, delicacy of timbreous and harmonic hearing.

The outstanding Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian was 19, when, coming to Moscow, he has firstly seen a cello and expressed a wish to study playing “this big violin”. After only four years, the unexpectedly bloomed musical talent will open to him the doors of composition classes of professors Gnesin and, later, Myaskovsky – prominent, outstanding teachers.

The first, but already unusually mature compositions by Khachaturian are also dated of the late 1920ths.

Just from the beginning of his creative path, Khachaturian was deeply attached exactly to the instrumental music. With rare exceptions, the instrumental music makes the overwhelming majority of his heritage. But, being born in Tbilissi and having absorbed the music of different nations through their song art, he has consciously interpreted it in the instrumental genre. Exactly because of it, his music written for the “lifeless” instruments, suddenly gets voice, starts to sing and to breath – simply and naturally, as it could not be the other way.

Khachaturian was an excellent symphonist; he has worked out his private, unrepeatable orchestral style – colorful, gay, sometimes reminding of the “sunny and hot” pictures by Martiros Saryan. But, possessing perfectly the colors of the orchestral palette, he knew also the virtuoso possibilities of the each instrument, though he unfortunately had no possibility to write the pieces for the each one of them. Critically analyzing the work of Aram Khachaturian from the position of our time, one can reproach him that he, being an adherent of traditional writing and trying to escape the “exaggerations”, used only the tested range of the expressive means. But it is mostly only a form, filled of unrepeatable individual content. Thanks to this, all the efforts of his imitators to mask the source of their “inspiration” were condemned to the total fiasco.

The complete list of works of Aram Khachaturian includes three Concertos: Violin, Piano and Cello, Concerto-rhapsodies for the same instruments, a range of solo sonatas, a Trio, other instrumental pieces… This entire works, and especially the Concertos, have become the serious milestones as in the development of the genre, as also in the performing technique. Thanks to its classicality, simplicity of harmonic language and texture and the brightly expressed virtuoso character, the music by Aram Khachaturian always attracted the attention of the performers, and the national peculiarity provided the freshness of its perception on the international stage.

In his last compositions, Khachaturian has tried to explore the new expressive means of the contemporary music. But just the works that were written by him exactly in 1930-50ths have expressed very precisely the individuality of Khachaturian, without any conventionalities, demonstrating very sincerely and with force the spiritual outbursts of the composer, sometimes with purely Southern verbosity, sometimes – deeply reflecting on each note and phrase. In the history of the world music, he will always be remembered this way.

Musical composition

Aria (1964) for chamber orchestra. Duration: 5’. The orchestra: 1. 1. 2. 1. – 2. 1. 1. 0. – timp – str

Autumn Song (1969) for voice and piano

At the Lonely Passe -willow (1950) Cantata for mixed chorus and symphony orchestra, op. 7 / Words by M. Lisyansky. Duration: 10’. The orchestra: 3(pic). 2. 2. 2. – 4. 2. 3. 1. – timp, side drum, cym, bass drum – hp – str

Chorale and Fugue (1975) for two trumpets and two trombones

Christmas Tree (1951) Children’s suite for small symphony orchestra, in six parts, op. 11. Duration: 12’

Introduction. Presto

Snow-Maiden and Santa Claus. Andantino

Riding Troika. Allegretto

Little Red Hat and Gray Wolf. Andantino

Waltz. Allegro

March. Marciale

The orchestra: 2 (pic). 1. 2. 1. – 2. 2. 1. 0. – trg, chime-bells, side drum, cym, bass drum - hp, pf, str

Concert Pieces (1957-1965) for piano

Children’s Music (1978) for piano

Procession. Maestoso

Dance. Andantino

Tag. Vivo

Sad Song. Andante

Ancient Waltz. Allegretto

Minuet. Andante gracioso

Merry play. Allegro

Frightening Tale. Largo

March. Allegretto (1951)

Concerto (1983) for violoncello and orchestra, in one part. Duration: 26’. The orchestra: 3 (pic). 2. 3. 2. – 4. 2. 3. 1. – timp, side drum, tamb, bass drum, tam-tam, whip, bell, xyl, vib – cel, hp – str

Concerto (1997-2002) for violin and orchestra

Concert March (1952)

Contest (1965) Musical picture from the film Wander Match

Dialogues (1996) for two clarinets and piano

Dithyramb (1991) for symphony orchestra in one movements / Dedicated to S. Prokofiev 20’

Epitaph (1986) for strings and percussion instruments. Duration: 20’. The orchestra: str (12, 10, 8, 8, 6) – timp, bell, tam-tam, trg

Fifth Symphony (1998-2002) for symphony orchestra

First Suite (1949) for symphony orchestra, in three parts

First Symphony (1955) in four parts, op. 12 / Second redaction (1963) 35’30


Allegretto (Scherzo)


Final. Agitato. Allegro energico

The orchestra: 3 (pic). 3 (e hn). 3. 3. – 4. 2. 3. 1. – timp, side drum, cym, tamb, bass drum, xyl –hp – str

Friendship (1959). Overture. Duration: 8’

The orchestra: 3 (pic). 2. 2. 2. – 4. 2. 3. 1. – timp, side drum, cym, bass drum, xyl – hp – str

Hawk and Chickens (1962) Musical picture for piano

Humoresque (1989) for trombone and piano

Impromptu (1989) for French horn and piano

In Mongolia (1952) Suite for small symphony orchestra, in six parts, op. 10. Duration: 10’30

Song. Moderato

Dance. Allegretto

Legend. Andantino

Processions. Marciale

Finale. Moderato

The orchestra: 2 (pic). 1. 2. 1. – – timp, tamb, side drum, cym, bass drum – hp, pf – str

In the Circus (1968) Suite, in four parts. Duration: 14’

Riders. Allegro

Acrobats on Trapeze. Tempo di valse

Juggles. Allegro moderato

Side-show. Maestoso

The orchestra: 3 (pic). 2. 2. 2. – 4. 4. 3. 1. – timp, tamb, side drum, cym, bass drum –hp, gtr – str

Introduction and Fugue (1972) for organ

Merry March (1952)

March of Soviet Militia (1976)

Moment of History (1971) Oratorio for reciter, mixed chorus and symphony orchestra on documentary / Revolution texts. Duration: 26’






The orchestra: 3 (pic). 3 (e hn). 3. 3 (cbn). – – timp, trg, whip, side drum, 3 tt, cym, bass drum, tam-tam, bells, xyl, vib – cel, hp, pf – str

Music from the ballet Cippolino (1983) 12 pieces for piano duet


Pumpkin’s Dance



Cippolino’s March

Flower Waltz

Variations of Radish


Ceremonial Precession


Magnolia and Little Cherry


Nine Pieces (1967) for piano

Olympiad – 80 (1980) Overture. Duration: 8’

Olympic march (1979)

Ostinato (1995) for piano

Overture (1949) for symphony orchestra. Duration: 8’

Oriental Suite (1953) for small symphony orchestra, in five parts 12’

Poem of Mothers (1975)

Vocal cycle for Soprano and piano, in five parts / Words by G. Mistral from the short poem in prose 12’

What will it be?

Eternal Pain

Image of the Earth

To the Husband

Why did You come?

Sacred Low

Quartet (1969)

For two violins, viola and violoncello, in four parts 14’





Scherzo (1988)

For bassoon and piano

Second Quartet (1998)

For two violins, viola and violoncello, in two parts 14’

Seven Pieces (1982)

For electro-organ




Oriental Dance




Sonata (1985)

For violin solo 19’

Simfoniette (1949)

In three parts 18’

Second redaction of Cippolino (1973)

Ballet, in three acts, seven scenes / Libretto by G. Rykhlov after Janni Rodari Cippolino’s Adventures; Musical items 1-51 90’

The orchestra:3 (pic). 2. 3. 3 (cbn) – 4. 2. 3. 1 – perc. (timp, trg, castanets, maracas, temple-block, recoreco, rattle, whip, tamb, side drum, tam-tam, xyl) – elec gtr, cel, hp, pf, str

Second Symphony (1968)

In two parts 14’

Andante sostenuto

Allegro molto

The orchestra: 3 (pic). 3 (e hn). 3. 3 (cbn). – 4. 3. 3. 1. – timp, trg, rattle, side drum, whip, cym, bass drum, tam-tam, tt, xyl, vib –cel, hp, pf –str

Snow-white and Seven Gnomes (1993)

Ballet, in three acts, seven scenes / Libretto by G. Mayorov 80’

The orchestra: 3 (III=pic). 2. 3. 3 (cbn). – 4. 3. 3. 1. – timp, trg, maracas, rattle, tamb, side drum, xyl, vib - hp, str

Sonata (1947)

For violin and piano, in three movements 18’




Sonata (1966)

For cello and piano, in four movements 18’

Recitative. Adagio

Invention. Allegretto

Aria. Andante

Toccata. Allegro con fuoco

Six Pieces (1968)

For violin and piano

Serenade (1971)

For six-stringed guitar

Sonata (1976)

For clarinet and piano 12’

Sport Suite (1954)

For small symphony orchestra, in seven parts 14’

Sixth Suite (1955)

For symphony orchestra

Third Symphony (1982)

In one part 25’

The orchestra: 3 (pic). 3 (e hn). 3. 3 (cbn). – – timp, 3 side drums, cym, 2 sus cym, 4 tt, bass drum, tam-tam, gong, chime-bells, vib –hp, cel, pf – str

Trio (1981)

For violin, French horn and piano, in three parts 11’30

Lento. Allegro moderato


Moderato scherzando

Trio (1984)

For violin, viola and violoncello

Two Miniatures (1975)

For violoncello and piano

Two Sonatas (1985)

For bassoon and piano 10’ & 7’

Variations (1992)

For guitar solo 20’

Veterans (1967)


Vocal Cycle (1982)

For men’s voice and chamber orchestra 15’

Vocal Trio (1983)

In two parts

Youth Overture (1951)

For symphony orchestra, op. 8 8’

The orchestra: 3 (pic). 3 (e hn). 2. 2 – 4. 2. 3. 1 – timp, tamb, side drum, bells, bass drum – hp – str


of the works by D. Shostakovich

Entrance of Soviet Football-players

From the ballet Golden Century 2’

Dance of Diva

From the ballet Golden Century 3’

Polka Once in Geneva

From the ballet Golden Century 2’30

Dance of Kozelkov

From the ballet Bolt 3’

Affecting Unity of Classes with Easy Falsification

From the ballet Golden Century 5’


From the ballet Light Stream 5’

Meeting of Two Friends

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