When Acapulco Met Armenia

Happy Birthday Aram!! Who is Aram you’re wondering? He is Aram Khachaturian the Armenian composer, and he was born on this day in 1903. That’s right, I’m gonna get “my Armenian” out for today’s “Music Monday”.

Khachaturian’s life saw the transition from Imperialist Russia to the Soviet Union. Although he was a Communist, Khachaturian eventually had to endure the inevitable, abhorrent downside of life as an artist under a Communist regime. He along with fellow composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev, found themselves on the government’s shit list. In 1948, the Central Committee issued a decree denouncing the three men for introducing “bourgeois”, “formalist”, and “decadent” elements into their work. The composers were forced to apologize to the committee – yes, APOLOGIZE for their music. Because the government didn’t approve. The government. Didn’t. Approve.

Khachaturian was humiliated and devastated by the experience and was said to have never fully recovered. But it wouldn’t be Communism if it didn’t break a person’s spirit, right? In his own words, Aram Khachaturian said, “Those were tragic days for me… I was clouted on the head so unjustly. My repenting speech at the First Congress was insincere. I was crushed, destroyed. I seriously considered changing professions.”

Anyway, this video is wonderful. It’s the Acapulco Philharmonic Orchestra performing Khachaturian’s amazing “Masquerade Suite”. It is both a gem of a composition and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. I really like the conductor. And check out those palm trees!

5 thoughts on “When Acapulco Met Armenia

  1. Elaine says:

    I was appalled to know that Khatchaturian was forced to apologize to the Central Committee for his magnificent music along with Shoshtakovich and Prokofiev. As a proud Armenian, I can only imagine, for an artist, it must have been the worst possible degradation of his work and creative genius. His work willl live on forever and for that we are grateful. The conductor was Armenian and the orchestra performed the piece with such verve and passion.

    • artmodel says:

      Hi Mom,

      Yes, I noticed too that the conductor is Armenian, and there were many Armenian names among the orchestra musicians as well. I know you love Khachaturian’s “Masquerade” and thought you would enjoy this video. But what the composers were subjected to by the Soviet government was disgraceful.

      Thanks for commenting, Momma!

      Claudia
      🙂

  2. Fred says:

    The credits are actually quite a mix of Spanish, Armenian, and Russian names.

    I think Khachaturian is an underrated modern composer. He’s a classical one-hit wonder for the “Saber Dance” but composed a lot of other wonderful music. I love the melancholy adagio from the Gayane Ballet, which is used in “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

    • artmodel says:

      Fred,

      Yes, he was wonderful. Somewhat underrated, I agree.

      One thing about the names – in this video and other places, Armenian surnames are sometimes written with a “yan” ending instead of the more typical “ian”. The video unfortunately writes Khachaturian as “Khachaturyan”. Both versions are ok but I prefer the “ian” form.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  3. violinhunter says:

    This is a wonderful piece but I have only played it once, maybe ten years ago. You are in New York so you MUST know one of the greatest violin pedagogues of all time was Armenian violinist Ivan Galamian!

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