AGBU Webtalks


Armenian Influence on the Music of Alan Hovhaness

Şahan Arzruni

Şahan Arzruni reflects upon the Armenian influences on the unique compositions of Alan Hovhaness.


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June 2016

Armenian Influence on the Music of Alan Hovhaness

The pianist—and friend of Alan Hovhaness—Şahan Arzruni reflects upon the Armenian influences on the unique musical compositions of the late composer. Hovhaness, born Alan Vaness Chakmakjian, was inspired by Armenian liturgical music and by the music of Komitas early on in his life. Like Komitas, Hovhaness studied music from the folk traditions of different cultures and incorporated them into his own special style of fusion music. In the 1940s he was introduced to Armenian folk songs through Yenovk Der Hagopian, a development which inspired the Armenian period of the prolific composer’s musical career.

Well known to television and radio audiences, pianist Şahan Arzruni enjoys an international reputation as a recitalist, chamber music partner and soloist with orchestras. A Steinway artist, Mr. Arzruni has recorded over twenty albums, focusing primarily on repertoire created by Armenian composers and on music composed by the masters for younger pianists. In 2013, Mr. Arzruni’s performance of Khachaturian was selected by the Republic of Armenia’s Ministry of Culture for inclusion in a special set of recordings marking the very best of Armenian musical talent. He is the recipient of both Presidential “Movses Khorenatsi” and “St. Sahak and St. Mesrob” medals.   

Topics: Arts/Culture Biography/Memoir Music