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Armenian Arias and Songs

play sound file Song of Anush from "Anush" by Armen Tigranian,
play sound file Scene of Madness from "Anush" by Armen Tigranian,
Shushan's Aria from "David-beck" by Armen Tigranian,
Seda's Aria from "Ancient Gods" ("Seda") by Anushavan Ter-Gevondian
Spendiarov, Satian, Kotoyan,
Abramian, Ayvazian, Armenian
Folk Songs:
The Spinning Wheel Song, The Girl, Little Swalow

Elvira Uzunian, soprano

Bolshoi Theater Orchestra
Vadim Shubladze, conductor
Russian State Folk Instruments Orchestra

Nikolai Nekrasov / Anatoliy Tsadikovsky /
Vadim Shubladze, conductors

Recorded during live radio broadcasts
at the Soviet National Radio Network in Moscow 1969 - 85

Catalog #S022586CD

Program Notes

One of the most important manifestations of the artistic sensibilities of the Armenian people is their music, rooted in ancient origins, but with a mix of influences from east and west. Folk music includes vocal and instrumental melodies, which were preserved through the centuries by the efforts of the Ashoughs. These troubadours traveled across the country exchanging popular songs and melodies. Shortly before the 1915-1917 Ottoman genocide of the Armenians and the consequent destruction of a great part of the popular musical heritage, the composer Komitas (or Gomitas) collected and transcribed thousands of pieces of Armenian dance tunes and folk songs. Beginning in the nineteenth century, European influence resulted in Armenian classical music being written in European form. The music, however, continued to receive its inspiration from national sources. Music is very important in Armenia. As a republic of the Soviet Union, Armenia had 150 composers, the highest ratio per capita for any republic in the USSR. Armenian music is still changing and growing as it incorporates old sounds with contemporary ones to find a new voice for a new nation.
Instruments used by the Armenians are commonly used throughout the Middle East. Though their exact origin is not known, Armenians adopted them long ago, developing a distinct national style.

"David-beck" is a patriotic opera describing one of the events of the 18th century national freedom movement in Armenia against Persian rule. A group of Armenian freedom fighters is betrayed and captured. Their leader Stepanos Shaumian is in love with Shushan, daughter of the traitor Melik. Melik forces Shushan to become one of the Persian khan's harem girls. The local people free the captured soldiers. At this time, the famous Armenian general David-beck is in the army of the Georgian king Vakhtang. Armenian people send a delegation to the king. They ask him to let David-beck go and lead the Armenian freedom movement. The king agrees, and David-beck receives the sword of the Armenian hero Varton Malikoyan as a symbol of his leadership. When the time comes to attack the khan's palace, Shushan sets fire to it as a signal for the Armenian army. Stepanos Shaumian and his friend, national hero Santur, save Shushan from the fire just in time. The Armenian people are victorious.

Anushavan Ter-Gevondian (1887 -1961) was a Professor of Music at the Tbilisi State Conservatory in Georgia and Yerevan State Conservatory in Armenia. He is an author of many operas and symphonic works.Opera "Seda" is based on a story by an Armenian writer Levon Shant. A young monk saves a prince and his daughter Seda during a storm on a lake. The young monk falls in love with Seda. He obsesses over her and she comes to him as a vision in his dreams and then disappears. Seda's aria sounds during the dream scene. The monk is unable to fight his feelings for Seda. He gives himself away and is judged severely by his church superiors. The young monk is tortured by the contradiction between his feelings and his allegiance to the church. He finally throws himself of a cliff into the lake and dies.

Alexander Dolukhanian (1910 - 68) wrote many instrumental works, cantatas and musical comedies. However, he was mostly known in Armenia for his numerous songs. His "Swallow", "A Dream", "My Girl" were immensely popular.

Ashot Satian (1906 - 58) wrote many symphonic and choral works, including "Songs of the Ararat Valley". He received awards from the Soviet government, and wrote music for movies as well as many songs. The song "Do you know?" is part of the "Songs of the Ararat Valley" cycle.

Vagarshak Kotoyan (1921 - 92) wrote many choral and instrumental works, as well as musical comedies and songs.

Eduard Abramian (1923 - 1986) was a Professor of Music at the Yerevan State Conservatory in Armenia. He wrote many pieces for the piano including 24 preludes. His art songs written on the poems of Armenian poets Hovhannes Tumanyan and Avetik Issakian, became part of the standard repertoire.

Artemiy Ayvazian (1902 - 1975) was an excellent cellist and conductor. Among his works are a cello concerto and many orchestral works. He was an organizer and music director of the first Armenian jazz orchestra (1938 - 56). Ayvazian wrote first Soviet musical comedies, including the popular "Dentist from the Orient".

Gevorg Armenian (1920 -) is a Professor at the Yerevan State Conservatory in Armenia. He is an author of many operas such as "Kchatchatur Abovian", "Couragious Nazar", "The Island of love", and others.

Caro Zakarian (1895 -1967) was a student of Ippolitov-Ivanov and Tcherepnin. He is an author of many operas, ballets, choral and symphonic works.

Alexander Spendiarov (1871 - 1928) was a student of N. Rimsky-Korsakov. He is considered the father of the Armenian music. His works include operas, orchestral, and choral works.

Barseg Kanatchian (1885 - 1967) was a singer and a choirmaster. He sang in a choir of the well-known classical Armenian composer Komitas, and was one of his best students. He arranged Armenian folk songs for choir, and wrote many original works for voice and choir that became very popular.

Alexander Adgemian (1925 - 87) wrote six symphonies, vocal cycles, Requiem for Voice and Chamber Orchestra, and many other works. He was also known for his work for the theater, and his many lyrical songs.


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