as a Conductor
me, the art of conducting has an enormous attractive strength
for many reasons. Firstly, I have always gone through performing
music since my youth. Secondly, what opportunity can be more
attractive than the one of making my compositions sound by such
a significant instrument as the orchestra? And, at last, this
is one more form of association with the widest audience…
Khachaturian had always dreamed to perform his
orchestra works himself, while rehearsing with little orchestras
of dramatic theatres to which he wrote music. In 1950, he, at
last, managed to realise his desire and started conducting his
works at the concert venues of many countries.
Everything began once in spring – after one call.
Khachaturian was given a ring and told that there would take
place a concert in honor of the election of academician Vavilov
as a member of parliament, and it is he, the composer, who must
conduct the concert. In that evening the concert program included
the final of Violin Concerto (performed by Leonid Kogan) and
extracts from the ballet “Gayane”.
This proposal was completely unexpected, and Khachaturian was
about to refuse it. As he said later, he had been excited the
whole day; however, everything passed well, even successfully.
“Just since that spring day I have been ‘poisoned’ by conducting,”
– recalled Khachaturian.
The sphere of Khachaturian’s conducting activities broadened
year by year. His debut on the symphonic stage took place on
February 10, 1950, and as early as in that year’s summer he
signed a contract on conducting 15 concerts in the USSR’s cities.
Touring in the largest cities of the Soviet Union, Khachaturian
also looked forward to conducting in the sites, where, as to
his words, “the foot of the symphony orchestra had never entered.”
Regular meetings with teachers and students of musical institutions,
with self-acting artists, and also with common people gave propagandistic
character to Khachaturian’s tours.
Even in the first reviews of Khachaturian’s conducting performances,
their authors emphasized the expressive flexibility of Aram
Ilich’s hands, his ability to make the shape of the whole, and
his significant inner sensation of rhythm.
Soon, there took place the first foreign performance. Being
in Rome in 1950, Khachaturian accepted the offer of the administration
of the Rome Radio to conduct a concert with the local orchestra.
“Italian reviewers accepted me warmly and called me ‘an experienced
maestro,’ obviously, out of their unawareness,” – recalls Aram
Ilich. – “This rather flattering epithet encouraged me, and,
since then, I have combined all the foreign tours with my recitals.”
While working with the orchestra, Aram Khachaturian revealed
his inherent artistry, bright performing endowments, strong
creative will, incredible capacity for work and mature professionalism.
“It was comfortable to play under his stick. He could spark
off orchestra members and soloists. He always knew what he wanted.
His conducting will unfailingly impressed the audience”, – recalled
the famous violinist Victor Pikaizen.
The foreign tours also corresponded to Khachaturian’s temperament:
the dynamics of his nature and the thirst for communication
with people. He once mentioned in a conversation that he had
found new friends abroad. The life endowed Aram Ilich with a
heap of extremely interesting meetings: with the Queen of Belgium,
Elizabeth, and the Pope of Rome, John 23th, with Jean Sibelius,
Arturo Benedetti Michelangelo, Ernest Anserme and Nadia Boulanger,
Charlie Chaplin, Sophia Loren and Ernest Hemingway…
Prague, Warsaw, Berlin, Sofia, Budapest, Bucharest, Vienna,
Paris, Rome, Brussels, London, Helsinki, Leipzig, Salzburg,
Reykjavik, Washington, New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Cairo, Beirut,
Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Gvadalahara, Caracas, Havana, Mexico,
Osaka, Nagasaki, Kyoto, Alexandria, Liege, Cordoba, Luxembourg,
San-Paulo, Manchester, Bologna, Acapulco… This is far from the
complete list of the cities where Khachaturian performed. His
concerts were always a success, promoting to the strengthening
of international cultural relations.
“The composer conducted the vast program outwardly
calmly, being seized with the ardor of inner burning. The concert
has become an outstanding event in our musical life… The audience
greeted Khachaturian with a long ovation, which was supported
by the orchestra fanfares.”
Helsingah Sanomat (April 16, 1955)
“Khachaturian sets his task to excite the audience
with music. The composer himself has not kept his intentions
secret. He says: ‘Music is a matter of heart’. The yesterday
concert demonstrated that the composer understands this matter…”
L’Humanité (March 29, 1960)
“Nobody could conduct the orchestra better than
he did. His gesture was clear and exact, his motions sparked
both the performers and the audience. The orchestra sounded
the way we had not long happened to hear. The success was outstanding…”
Paeze Sera (April 8, 1963)