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Donald Macleod tells the story behind the composition of Khachaturian's famous work, the Sabre Dance from his ballet Gayane.

His famous Sabre Dance was once the most frequently played piece of music in the world, this week Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Aram Khachaturian.

By the time Khachaturian composed his First Symphony, he was finishing his course at the Moscow Conservatoire. He decided to stay on as a postgraduate student, studying with Myaskovsky. He supplemented his income by composing music for the cinema. This included a film project for the Armenian State Film Company, called Pepo, and also a historical and revolutionary film entitled Zangezur.

Around this time, Khachaturian first encountered Nina, who would become his second wife. Khachaturian recalled that, when he first met Nina, "happiness walked in". Happiness became the name of one of Khachaturian's ballets, later reworked and called Gayane, which includes his famous Sabre Dance.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Aram Khachaturian

    Dance in B flat major Op.1 for violin and piano

    Performer: Fabiana Biasini. Performer: Michael Jelden.
    • Edition HERA.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Gayane - Sabre Dance

    Orchestra: London S O..
    • EMI.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Gayane - Lezghinka

    Orchestra: London S O..
    • EMI.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Gayane - Mountaineers

    Orchestra: London S O..
    • EMI.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Gayane - Lullaby

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra.
    • EMI.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Gayane - Gayaneh’s Adagio

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra.
    • EMI.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Pepo - Pepo's Song

    Orchestra: Armenian Philharmonic Rock Orchestra. Conductor: Loris Tjeknavorian.
    • ASV.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Pepo - music for the film

    Orchestra: Armenian Philharmonic Rock Orchestra. Conductor: Loris Tjeknavorian.
    • ASV.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Zangezur - march for wind band

    Orchestra: Armenian Philharmonic Rock Orchestra. Conductor: Loris Tjeknavorian.
    • ASV.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Symphony no. 1

    Orchestra: State Academic Symphony Orchestra of The Russian Federation.
    • Melodiya.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Dance in B flat major Op.1 for violin and piano

    Performer: Fabiana Biasini. Performer: Michael Jelden.
    • Edition HERA.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Symphony no. 1

    Orchestra: State Academic Symphony Orchestra of The Russian Federation.
    • Melodiya.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Pepo - music for the film

    Orchestra: Armenian Philharmonic Rock Orchestra. Conductor: Loris Tjeknavorian.
    • ASV.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Pepo - Pepo's Song

    Orchestra: Armenian Philharmonic Rock Orchestra. Conductor: Loris Tjeknavorian.
    • ASV.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Zangezur - march for wind band

    Orchestra: Armenian Philharmonic Rock Orchestra. Conductor: Loris Tjeknavorian.
    • ASV.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Gayane - Lezghinka

    Orchestra: London S O..
    • EMI.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Gayane - Lullaby

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra.
    • EMI.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Gayane - Sabre Dance

    Orchestra: London S O..
    • EMI.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Gayane - Mountaineers

    Orchestra: London S O..
    • EMI.
  • Aram Khachaturian

    Gayane - Gayaneh’s Adagio

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra.
    • EMI.

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