Aram Khachaturian (June 6, 1903 – May 1, 1978) (born in Tiflis, Georgia) was a prominent Armenian composer. Khachaturian’s works were often influenced by folk music of Armenia.
Khachaturian’s works include concertos for violin (sometimes heard in a composer-sanctioned arrangement for flute), cello and piano as well as concerto-rhapsodies for the same instruments. These three concertos were written for the members of a renowned Soviet piano trio that performed together from 1941 until 1963: David Oistrakh, violin; Sviatoslav Knushevitsky, cello; Lev Oborin, piano. The piano concerto originally included an early part for the flexatone, and was his first work to gain him recognition in the West. Khachaturians’s three symphonies are varied works, with the third containing parts for fifteen additional trumpets and organ. The composer’s largest scaled works are the ballets Spartacus and Gayane, both of which contain Khachaturian’s most well-known music, with Gayane featuring in its final act what is easily his most famous music, the “Sabre Dance”.
He also wrote several solo piano works, including the Toccata in E-flat minor, and two albums of music for children (Opp. 62 and 100). Children’s Album, Book 1, first published in 1947, contains a smooth and melodic Andantino originally composed in 1926; this piece is commonly known as Ivan Sings, which stems from eight of ten pieces originally being collected as Adventures of Ivan. Children’s Album, Book 2, first published in 1964, includes a fugue composed in 1928, and a fast-paced programmatic piece entitled Two Funny Aunties Argued which is sometimes translated as Two Ladies Gossiping. He also composed some film music and incidental music for plays such as the 1941 production of Mikhail Lermontov’s Masquerade, the orchestral suite of which has become relatively popular.
The cinematic quality of his music for Spartacus was clearly seen when the Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia was used as the theme for a popular BBC drama series, The Onedin Line, during the 1970s. Since then, it has become one of the most popular of all classical pieces for UK audiences. Joel Coen’s The Hudsucker Proxy also prominently featured music from Spartacus and Gayane (the “Sabre Dance” included). Gayane’s adagio was used in Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey among other films. He was also the composer for the state anthem of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, whose tune is one of the five current choices to become the next state anthem of Armenia. The climax of Spartacus was also used in Caligula (film) and Ice Age: The Meltdown.