I couldn't resist that smoldering photo. Perfect pic for mo-vember. I'm sure he was 19 or some obscene age then - I never looked like that in my teens haha.
I have begun a study of Alan Hovhaness - an American composer of Armenian descent (only relevant because he uses Armenian melodies and techniques in his compositions). Very prolific, he wrote 500+ works - and even burned some of his early work, so who knows how much music he actually composed in his 88 years! I imagine his studio always looked like this:
From a NY Times article by Mac Randall May 20, 2001:
"Hovhaness -- born Alan Vaness Chakmakjian in 1911 in Somerville, Mass., to an Armenian father and a mother of Scottish descent -- produced perhaps the largest individual catalog in 20th-century music. Officially, he wrote almost 500 pieces, the best known probably being his Symphony No. 2 (''Mysterious Mountain'') of 1955. But that tally does not include the thousand or so early works he is said to have burned in a cathartic mid-1940's bonfire. Nor does it include the compositions his widow, Hinako Fujihara Hovhaness, continues to discover among the piles of manuscript paper in the couple's Seattle home.
Hovhaness's work is notable for its lack of the willful thorniness that defined the work of so many composers of his generation. Early on, he rejected the growing harmonic complexity of modern music in favor of a style that emphasized tonal -- more accurately, modal -- melody to create a sweeping, mystical atmosphere. An avid ethnomusicologist, Hovhaness delved deeply into his Armenian heritage and incorporated elements from Indian, Japanese and Korean traditions into his work. He was rewarded for his efforts by becoming one of the most frequently performed American composers.
Yet despite his many admirers, Hovhaness's place in the modern canon, as the anniversary of his death approaches, is far from secure. ''Alan's music takes a lot of knocks,'' said Gil Rose, the artistic director of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, which has performed several Hovhaness works.
Indeed, much of the composer's work has met with scathing criticism. Douglas Watt, in a 1971 review for The New York Daily News, called Hovhaness's score for the American Ballet Theater's ''Rose for Miss Emily'' lifeless: ''the Hovhaness method here is to state a brief musical figure and then worry it to death by repetition.'' Ten years later, Alan Rich wrote in New York magazine that the oratorio ''Revelations of St. Paul'' was ''garbage, 75 minutes' worth,'' and lamented ''the travesties of the creative act perpetrated by the prolific Mr. Hovhaness.'' And no less an authority than Leonard Bernstein blasted Hovhaness's Symphony No. 1 (''Exile'') of 1937 as ''filthy ghetto music.''
What makes so many critics and musicians so uncomfortable about Hovhaness? The principal complaints are that his music is simple to the point of dimwittedness; that it is too New Age; that it never goes anywhere; that if you've heard one piece, you've heard 500."
So far, I have listened to around 20 of his pieces with scores - either from the library or found online. Recordings are hard to come by - perhaps another ten scores I found at the library have no available recordings. I'm in search of records online and did buy a lot of 7 recordings that are conducted or played by the composer. I may put those up at some point.
One of my favorite pieces happens to be mentioned in the article above, "Tzaikerk." Below is a performance:
10/6/2022 12:03:55 pm
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11/16/2022 09:02:13 pm
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Andrew Haile Austin
A record of events, a log of compositional progress,