In the second half of the 20th century, Khachatur Avetisyan stands as a famous representative of professional Armenian musical art, and also as a composer having gained international renown. He was a People's Artist of the Armenian Republic, a State award recipient, and professor.
He was born on April 14, 1926, in Gyumri, a city rich with national musical traditions. He passed away in June of 1996 in Yerevan.
He received his initial musical education at Yerevan’s R. Melikyan Music Academy, and subsequently at the Komitas State Conservatory where he studied composition with the famous Edvard Mirzoyan. Prior to his creative activities, he had become a virtuoso soloist of the national Kanon musical instrument; with this instrument, he became the first Armenian musician to receive the main prize and become the winner of the International Youth Festival in Berlin in 1951. As a Kanon performer, he created a new performing school for this instrument, as well as a series of textbooks and numerous compositions for the Kanon. His two composed Concertos for Kanon and Symphony Orchestra received wide international recognition and to this day their sounds emanate from many world stages.
In 1958, the Armenian State Dance Ensemble was founded and from the first day of its creation, Avetisyan became its musical director. In his close to 15 years of working here, he created the majority of the ensemble’s musical scores, such as the following popularly loved pieces of the period: Kakhardvats Tsaghikner, Caravan, Kakachner, Kintoner, and a series of other dances. During these years, he toured about 50 countries together with the group, thus presenting to the world Armenian stagecraft.
In the late 1950’s, his creative life entered the song genre which became the guiding force in his compositional expression and brilliantly revealed the song writer’s melodious and lyrical poignant national feelings and the exceptional talent in his mastery of this genre. A new way of thinking and regard of song culture came about, which in a short period brought him, as the author of song, the great love, recognition, and acclaim of his audience. His songs were called “comeback”, as if a musical bridge which would connect the Armenian troubadour/song writer tradition with its counterpart in contemporary, professional musical art.
From 1974-78, Avetisyan became the Musical Director of the T. Altunyan named State Ensemble of Song and Dance. Here also, in a short period, he created several new programs for the ensemble while remaining true to his national traditions.
In 1978, after years of waiting, Khachatur Avetisyan became the founder of the Folk Instrumentals and Vocals Department at the Komitas named Conservatory which he directed until the end of his life. It would be difficult to evaluate the role of this Department in the task and maintenance of a national professional art and its education. In the course of 35 years, he gave this artistic nest numerous illustrious performers and educators. Today, Avetisyan’s students continue the fulfilling work of preservation and education in the national musical profession, having inherited his musical legacy and pedagogic traditions. Also during these years, Avetisyan established a large creative library for national musical instruments.
He has bequeathed us with a wide range of numerous works. His Oratorio dedicated to “The Memory of the Victims of the Great Genocide” has found wide appeal today not only in the Diaspora, but also among international performers and audiences. Among his other works, we have the “Gyumri” Requiem, dedicated to the memory of the earthquake victims, two ballets, musical scores for theater and film, and a series of orchestral suites.
An only partial list of his songs includes “Im Anush Tavigh” (My sweet harp), “Makhmur Aghjik” (Tender Girl), “Asume en te” (They say that), “Im Yegheg” (My Cane) “Vortegh Gtnem Kez”(Where to find you), “Tsaghkats Baleni” (Blossomed Cherry-tree), “Siro Gisher”(Love Night) , “Krunkner” (Cranes), “Kapuyt Trchun” (Blue Bird), “Sirus Kspasem” (I await my love); these works ring out every day from performance stages and people’s lips. His works are destined to live long in the Armenian spirit and elevate the artist, as the greatest maestro, to the highest realms of Armenian musical Art.