Alan Hovhaness

Composer. Born 8 March 1911. Died 21 June 2000
Alan Hovhaness
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1911-03-08
https://musicbrainz.org/artist/91171f3d-340b-4bfd-9fbc-e088abc9b1d3
Alan Hovhaness

Alan Hovhaness Biography (BBC)

One of the most prolific composers of the 20th century, Alan Hovhaness was born Alan Vaness Chakmakjian to an Armenian father and Scottish mother in Somerville, Massachusetts, on 8 March 1911. A graduate of Tufts University and the New England Conservatory of Music (where he was a pupil of Frederick Converse), he won a scholarship to study under Martinu at Tanglewood during the summer of 1942.

Following criticisms of his music there by Bernstein, Copland and Lukas Foss, Hovhaness strove for a more personal mode of self-expression, studying Armenian and Oriental music and achieving some measure of success in the 1950s when his music was taken up by Leopold Stokowski and Fritz Reiner (who made a famous recording in Chicago of his Second Symphony, ‘Mysterious Mountain’).

During this same decade, Hovhaness began to travel widely, notably to India, Japan and Korea. In 1962, he was appointed composer-in-residence at the University of Hawaii; four years later, he took up the same position with the Seattle Symphony.

By now happily settled on the American West Coast, Hovhaness wrote two of his most enduring compositions: And God Created Great Whales (1970) is an orchestral canvas incorporating elements of tape humpback whale song, while his Symphony No. 50 from 1983 (‘Mount Saint Helens’) culminates in a graphic depiction of the events of 18 May 1980 when that eponymous volcano in the Cascades mountain range blew its top. Both scores revel in soothingly modal harmony and an abundant sense of spectacle and pantheistic wonder that are instantly appealing.

A strong strain of mysticism also runs through Hovhaness’s deeply personal fusion of East and West, allied to an unabashed love of melody. ‘I believe in melody.’ he once explained, ‘and to create a melody one needs to go within oneself.’ It follows, then, that serenity and spirituality are also keynotes to Hovhaness’s approachable idiom. ‘I’ve always listened to my own voice. I was discontented with the kind of music that everyone said I should write – all clever and dissonant, intellectualised. I wanted to write music that was deeply felt, music that would move people.’

And write he did! By the time of his death in June 2000, Hovhaness’s list of opus numbers had far exceeded 400, including no fewer than 67 symphonies (he destroyed another seven early efforts besides), numerous operas and ballets, as well as a wealth of chamber, instrumental, choral and vocal music.

Profile © Andrew Achenbach



Alan Hovhaness Tracks

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Alan Hovhaness
Prayer of St. Gregory
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Prayer of St. Gregory
Alan Hovhaness
Symphony No 2, 'Mysterious Mountain' (4th mvt)
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Symphony No 2, 'Mysterious Mountain' (4th mvt)
Alan Hovhaness
And God Created Great Whales
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And God Created Great Whales
Alan Hovhaness
Fanfare for the New Atlantis, Op. 281
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Fanfare for the New Atlantis, Op. 281
Alan Hovhaness
And God created great whales
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And God created great whales
Alan Hovhaness
Improvisations of Folk Tunes
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Improvisations of Folk Tunes

Improvisations of Folk Tunes

Ensemble
Central Washington University Wind Ensemble
Conductor
Alan Hovhaness
Prayer of St. Gregory
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Prayer of St. Gregory
Alan Hovhaness
Symphony No 2, Op 132, 'Mysterious Mountain' (1st mvt)
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Symphony No 2, Op 132, 'Mysterious Mountain' (1st mvt)
Alan Hovhaness
Symphony No 50 (Mount St. Helens), Op 360 (3rd movement: Volcano)
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Symphony No 50 (Mount St. Helens), Op 360 (3rd movement: Volcano)
Alan Hovhaness
Bagatelle Op 30
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Bagatelle Op 30
Alan Hovhaness
Symphony No 2, 'Mysterious Mountain'
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Symphony No 2, 'Mysterious Mountain'
Alan Hovhaness
Prayer of St Gregory
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Prayer of St Gregory

Prayer of St Gregory

Performer
Zoe Perkins
Alan Hovhaness
Symphony No. 50; Mount St Helens iii: Volcano
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Symphony No. 50; Mount St Helens iii: Volcano

Symphony No. 50; Mount St Helens iii: Volcano

Performer
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, cond Gerard Schwarz
Alan Hovhaness
Symphony No. 2, Op. 132 'Mysterious Mountain'
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Symphony No. 2, Op. 132 'Mysterious Mountain'
Alan Hovhaness
Angel of Light. 2nd movement from Symphony No.22 "City of Light " (Op.236)
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Angel of Light. 2nd movement from Symphony No.22 "City of Light " (Op.236)
Alan Hovhaness
Mysterious Mountain, Op. 132: Andante espressivo
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Mysterious Mountain, Op. 132: Andante espressivo
Alan Hovhaness
Symphony No 2, 'Mysterious Mountain' (2nd mvt)
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Symphony No 2, 'Mysterious Mountain' (2nd mvt)
Alan Hovhaness
Wisdom
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Wisdom
Alan Hovhaness
Tzaikerk (Evening Song)
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Tzaikerk (Evening Song)
Alan Hovhaness
Symphony No.1 ‘Exile’; 2nd movement
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Symphony No.1 ‘Exile’; 2nd movement

Symphony No.1 ‘Exile’; 2nd movement

Performer
Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz (conductor)
Alan Hovhaness
Symphony No. 14 ‘Ararat’ – 2nd movement
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Symphony No. 14 ‘Ararat’ – 2nd movement

Symphony No. 14 ‘Ararat’ – 2nd movement

Performer
Trinity College of Music Wind Orchestra, Keith Brion (conductor)
Charles Butler, Alan Hovhaness, Seattle Symphony & Gerard Schwarz
Prayer to St Gregory
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Prayer to St Gregory

Prayer to St Gregory

Performer
Charles Butler, Alan Hovhaness, Seattle Symphony & Gerard Schwarz
Alan Hovhaness
Prayer of St Gregory, Op. 62b
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Prayer of St Gregory, Op. 62b
Alan Hovhaness
And God Created Great Whales
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And God Created Great Whales
Alan Hovhaness
Symphony no. 2 Op.132 (Mysterious mountain) - 1st movement; Andante
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Symphony no. 2 Op.132 (Mysterious mountain) - 1st movement; Andante
Alan Hovhaness
Prayer of St Gregory
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Prayer of St Gregory
Alan Hovhaness
Symphony No.2 Op.132 'Mysterious Mountain'
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Symphony No.2 Op.132 'Mysterious Mountain'
Alan Hovhaness
Khrimian Hairig, Opus 49
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Khrimian Hairig, Opus 49
Alan Hovhaness
Mysterious Mountain, Op. 132
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Mysterious Mountain, Op. 132
Alan Hovhaness
Bagatelles Op 30 Nos. 1 & 2
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Bagatelles Op 30 Nos. 1 & 2
Alan Hovhaness
Khrimian Hairig for Trumpet and Strings Op 49
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Khrimian Hairig for Trumpet and Strings Op 49
Alan Hovhaness
Peace be Multiplied
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Peace be Multiplied
Alan Hovhaness
Sunset, from Symphony No. 7 'Nanga Parvat', Op.178
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Sunset, from Symphony No. 7 'Nanga Parvat', Op.178
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