{Armenia} Aram Khachaturian House Museum

December 10, 2012

Armenia

Although I majored in Music from high school, alongside English, I must admit my ignorance in never having heard of Soviet Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian (1903 – 1978) before my trip to Armenia, even though he is apparently often listed as one of the three great names in Soviet music alongside Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Or if I had heard of him, he certainly hadn’t stuck in my mind. That’s definitely changed, since a very special evening during the ICOM CECA Conference in October.

All Conference delegates were invited to a private concert at the Aram Khachaturian House Museum, which boasts a small concert hall where performances regularly take place. There to welcome us was Armine Grigoryan – Professor of Yerevan State Conservatory, pianist of the Aram Khachaturian trio, and incidentally also director of the museum. She was joined by Karen Kocharyan on the cello – founder of the Aram Khachaturian Trio and concertmaster of the Armenian State Philharmonic orchestra – and Aram Asatryan on the violin, also a Professor of the Conservatory and a concertmaster at the Philharmonic. This high profile trio proceeded to blow us away with a 45 minutes performance of Khachaturian’s works (and also some other composers), which left me with shivers running down my spine. Especially Armine Grigoryan’s performance on the piano was nothing short of amazing!

After the concert, we had the opportunity to look around the museum itself, which houses an exhibition devoted to the composer’s creative output and personal artifacts. Planning begun in the 1970s, with Khachaturian himself actively involved in its design.He left his piano, manuscripts, letters and many personal memorabilia in his will to the museum, which finally opened four years after his death in 1982.

The museum building is a purpose built extension of the house where Khachaturian resided when he was in Yerevan. As part of the visit you can see the composer’s original rooms, where e.g. the donated piano is on display, and the slippers set out by the side of his bed give the impression as if he was being expected back any minute.

The museum also includes a sound library, though unfortunately we were not able to access that since we were visiting after hours. But hey, I reckon we got something even better with our special concert! To share a little of that evening with you, and perhaps whet your appetite researching the composer a little further, here are the last 45 seconds of an Aram Khachaturian’s waltz performed for us in a lively finale to the concert.

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