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Born: 1903, Tbilisi, GeorgiaDied: 1978, Moscow, Russia

“I do not see how modern composers could isolate themselves from life and not want to work among society. The more impressions that come from contact with life, the more and better the creative ideas.”

An Armenian born and raised in Tbilisi, Georgia, Khachaturian had wide ranging early musical experiences but little formal training before moving to Moscow to study biology. In Moscow he began to study cello and to write music for an Armenian theater group directed by his brother. In 1929 he entered the Moscow Conservatory, graduating in 1934. He stayed on for two years of graduate work, however, and his Piano Concerto, composed in 1936, was a break-through piece in terms of both public recognition and artistic development. The ashugh tradition of Armenian bards was an important influence on Khachaturian, who fused Western European music with Eastern folk traditions in works ranging from ballets and film scores to three symphonies and numerous songs and choral pieces.

Further listening:

Piano Concerto (1936)William Kapell; Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky (RCA Victor)

Spartacus, Suites Nos. 1-3 (1955-1957)Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi (Chandos)