Aram Khachaturian’s handwritten notes and film music have been included in UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” International Register program held in in the Republic of Korea on 18 June. That list also includes such renowned name as Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin.
On 6 June the 110th birthday anniversary of the genius composer Aram Khachaturian was completed. On the same day the Ninth Aram Khachaturian International Festival of the Cellists launched. The festival was included in the World Federation of Music Festivals.
Aram Khachaturian’s film music is an integral part of his great art. The composer is the founder of the Armenian national film music. In 1932 Khachaturian wrote “Violin Concerto”, which generated a great interest in the Soviet music world. Three years later in Armenia Hamo Beknazaryan shot the first sound film “Pepo” that became the basis of the cooperation between the two artists. “Pepo” released in 1935 and Aram Khachaturian’s music sounded in it. Besides, an exceptional meeting had taken place between the poet and the composer, as a result of which “Fisherman’s Song”, or in a more common name “Pepo’s Song” was born. The song lyrics was written by Yeghishe Charents, the music was created by Aram Khachaturian and it was sung by Hrachya Nersisyan. Thus, due to the providence or the desire of the gods of art the trio created the first sound of the Armenian film music, which is still perceived with deep respect and national pride.
Three years later “Pepo” was followed by Beknazaryan’s “Zangezur”. The music of that film also sought and found the dramatic and emotive overtones of the plot and merged with the images becoming a whole.
Aram Khachaturian’s activities in the Armenian cinema was limited with these film songs but his cooperation with Russian cinema began at that time. He wrote music for 14 films and worked with such renowned artists of the Soviet cinema as M. Romm, V. Petrov, S. Gerasimov, Ya. Protazanov. Khachaturian was awarded with four Stalin prizes the one of which was awarded for the music of the film “Battle of Stalingrad” shot in 1949.
The modern generation hasn’t watched more than a dozen films where Khachaturian’s music sounds. Even the surveys carried out at the professional universities resulted nothing, but in our music world Aram Khachaturian’s film music is the symbolic achievement of the distant and glorious past. Few people can speak about his film music or can provide any information as it hasn’t been studied. Only one book has been written about Aram Khachaturian’s film music in Russian by Nami Mikoyan. Our music world has superficial and incomplete information on the founder of the Armenian national film music. It is difficult to expect any professional analysis on that topic, and all we have is based on the films “Pepo” and “Zangezur”.

images-6Araks Saryan (musicologist, professor of Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory)

“Aram Khachaturian was the contemporary of Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev and shared with them the fame of the Soviet classics. They were presented as a wonderful trio. Aram Khachaturian brought a new and fresh breath to the Soviet world of music. This was also confessed by Shostakovich. Film music also had a place in his diverse art. He was living in Moscow, had a great reputation and the directors offered him to write music for their films. It was a great honor to write music for the film “Battle of Stalingrad” that was shot after the victory of the Great Patriotic War in 1949. It was a work created with the universal rhythm and tendencies of the music of that period, and naturally it didn’t involve national overtones that was typical to Aram Ilyich.
I think his film music written during that years has made history expressing the spirit of the time. Aram Khachaturian’s works created for the Armenian films are everlasting. The best example is “Pepo” and next comes “Zangezur”. After the “Song of Pepo” was written it was song by the famous singers of the time and it immediately obtained a national fame. It was a correct combination of Charents words, Tiflis coloring and Sundukyan spirit. Being well aware of folk music Aram Khachaturian managed to understand the depth of the topic, the social accents of lifestyle and human relations. As we appreciate Aram Khachaturian’s first symphony, the first ballet “Joy” that later turned into “Gayane”, similarly we evaluate the music of “Pepo” as the first film music throughout the history of the Armenian cinema. He showed that a composer should work with film and create a work complying it with the film message, its topic and characters.”

1-1-223x300Aram Satyan (composer, Honored Art Worker of RA)

Edgar Hovhannisyan was Aram Khachaturian’s student. He wrote the following in one of his letters addressed to his teacher: “Aram Ilyich, the society is convinced that your “Song of Pepo” is a folk song.” His music was so expressive that the directors got new images based on it. For the cooperation to be perfect the director and the composer should have equal qualities. If a talented composer is working with a mediocre director, the music will dominate in the film. In this regard Aram Khachaturian was lucky as he cooperated with the best directors of the time. I want to make another point: his stage experience is very important. Khachaturian got to know the performing art very well, he knew that the stage music was different from the other genres. For example the stage music written by the young Shostakovich was not good, later he wrote “Hamlet” in a brilliant way, that is he needed to accumulate some experience and specialize in that field. And Aram had an inborn talent, his film music was immediate and excellent. The thing was that he immediately understood what the film audience needed and he knew how to transfer them to the combined world of cinema and music. Aram Khachaturian was a public man. It seems from the first sight that he drag a border between himself and the people, but actually he was standing very close to the people. We must admit that our music is Eastern, our composers want to get out of the Eastern borders and reach the European domains. But Khachaturian combined the European way of thinking with the national one and created his own music becoming number one composer of the Eastern world. I want to add something else about the features of his film music. It seems to be logical that a rhythmic music is sounded in the war scenes. But Aram Khachaturian often deviated from those patterns. War footages are shown being combined by a very mysterious, slow and tragic music. Such a solution is intentional as it emphasizes the image creating a drama in itself.”

2-1-300x207Yuri Harutyunyan (composer, Honored Art Worker of RA)

“The cinema of his time was not separated as it is today in terms of its genre. It can be stated it was homogeneous. And the invited composers didn’t do any experiments and wrote the same music that they would write for the stage or the orchestra. At that time the composers were introduced the rhythm, the plot, the shot material and the dramaturgy of a film for them to have an insight of the work to be done. Even in this case the composers were just writing music, not film music. As a youth I was very impressed by the films for which Aram Ilyich wrote music. Some of that films have become classics, namely “Battle of Stalingrad”, “Othello”. He wrote his own music but it was completely appropriate to a film. He had an inborn talent in all the genres, including the film genre.”

Naira Paytyan