Alan Hovhaness

About Alan Hovhaness

Who is it?: Composer
Birth Day: March 19, 1911
Birth Place: Somerville, American

Alan Hovhaness

Alan Hovhaness was born on March 19, 2008 in Somerville, American, is Composer. Alan Hovhaness was an Armenian-American music composer. As one of the most prolific performers of 20th century, his official catalogue comprised 67 symphonies and 434 opus numbers. Some of his remarkable creations include ‘Symphony No. 17’ and Guitar Concerto No. 1. While creating Lousadzak, he applied an advanced technique that he referred to as ‘spirit murmur’. In his quest for ancient traditional music of various countries, he visited India, Hawaii, Japan and South Korea. He destroyed many of his earlier works after facing criticism for them. Most of these works were the proof of his interest towards Renaissance style. He got his first recognition as a composer through his symphony Exile and BBC Symphony performed it in London. From 1940 onwards, he became interested towards Armenian music and applied its form and technique in some of his creations. A recipient of Fullbright Fellowship, he was the first Western composer who got the invitation to join in the music festival of Madras, India. In Japan, he appeared in television and conducted music with the Tokyo Symphony. In later part of his life, he studied Indian Carnatic music and Japanese gagaku music to enrich his knowledge in music. His life and work has acted as inspiration for several films also.
Alan Hovhaness is a member of Musicians

Does Alan Hovhaness Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Alan Hovhaness has been died on June 21, 2000.

🎂 Alan Hovhaness - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When Alan Hovhaness die, Alan Hovhaness was 89 years old.

Popular As Alan Hovhaness
Occupation Musicians
Age 89 years old
Zodiac Sign Aries
Born March 19, 1911 (Somerville, American)
Birthday March 19
Town/City Somerville, American
Nationality American

🌙 Zodiac

Alan Hovhaness’s zodiac sign is Aries. According to astrologers, the presence of Aries always marks the beginning of something energetic and turbulent. They are continuously looking for dynamic, speed and competition, always being the first in everything - from work to social gatherings. Thanks to its ruling planet Mars and the fact it belongs to the element of Fire (just like Leo and Sagittarius), Aries is one of the most active zodiac signs. It is in their nature to take action, sometimes before they think about it well.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

Alan Hovhaness was born in the Year of the Pig. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Pig are extremely nice, good-mannered and tasteful. They’re perfectionists who enjoy finer things but are not perceived as snobs. They enjoy helping others and are good companions until someone close crosses them, then look out! They’re intelligent, always seeking more knowledge, and exclusive. Compatible with Rabbit or Goat.

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Famous Quotes:

We are in a very dangerous period. We are in danger of destroying ourselves, and I have a great fear about this ... The older generation is ruling ruthlessly. I feel that this is a terrible threat to our civilization. It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul. It's of no use.



Hovhaness's parents soon supported their son's precocious composing, and set up his first piano lessons with a neighborhood Teacher. Hovhaness continued his piano studies with Adelaide Proctor and then Heinrich Gebhard. By age 14 he decided to devote himself to composition. Among his early musical experiences were Baptist hymns and recordings of Gomidas Vartabed, an eminent Armenian Composer. He composed two operas during his teenage years which were performed at Arlington High School, and Composer Roger Sessions took an interest in his music during this time. Following his graduation from high school in 1929, he studied with Leo Rich Lewis at Tufts and then under Frederick Converse at the New England Conservatory of Music. In 1932, he won the Conservatory's Samuel Endicott prize for composition with his Sunset Symphony (elsewhere entitled Sunset Saga).


During the 1930s and 1940s, Hovhaness famously destroyed many of his early works. He later claimed that he had burned at least 1000 different pieces, a process that took at least two weeks; elsewhere he claimed to have destroyed around 500 scores totaling as many as a thousand pages. In an interview with Richard Howard, he stated that the decision was based primarily on Sessions' criticism of his works of that period, and that he wanted to make a new start in composition.


In July 1934, Hovhaness traveled with his first wife, Martha Mott Davis, to Finland to meet Jean Sibelius, whose music he had greatly admired since childhood. The two continued to correspond for the next twenty years. In 1935, Hovhaness named his daughter and only child from his first marriage Jean Christina Hovhaness after Jean Christian Sibelius, her godfather and Hovhaness's friend for three decades.


In 1936, Hovhaness attended a performance in Boston by the Indian dance troupe of Uday Shankar (with orchestra led by Vishnudas Shirali), which inspired his lifelong interest in the music of India. During the 1930s (until 1939), he worked in Franklin D. Roosevelt's Federal Music Project.


In the mid-1940s, Hovhaness' stature in New York was helped considerably by members of the immigrant Armenian community who sponsored several high-profile concerts of his music. This organization, the Friends of Armenian Music Committee, was led by Hovhaness's friends Dr. Elizabeth A. Gregory, the Armenian American piano/violin duo Maro Ajemian and Anahid Ajemian, and later Anahid's husband, pioneering record Producer and subsequent Columbia Records executive George Avakian. Their help led directly to many recordings of Hovhaness' music appearing in the 1950s on MGM and Mercury records, placing him firmly on the American musical landscape.


Lou Harrison reviewed a 1945 concert of Hovhaness' music which included his 1944 concerto for piano and strings, entitled Lousadzak:


In May and June 1946, while staying with an Armenian family, Hovhaness composed Etchmiadzin, an opera on an Armenian theme, which was commissioned by a local Armenian church.


In 1948 he joined the faculty of the Boston Conservatory, teaching there until 1951. His students there included the jazz Musicians Sam Rivers and Gigi Gryce.


Hovhaness was inducted into the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1951), and received honorary D.Mus. degrees from the University of Rochester (1958), Bates College (1959) and the Boston Conservatory (1987). He moved to Seattle in the early 1970s, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1973, he composed his third and final ballet score for Martha Graham: Myth of a Voyage, and over the next twenty years (between 1973 and 1992) he produced no fewer than 37 new symphonies.


His biggest breakthrough till then came in 1955, when his Symphony No. 2, Mysterious Mountain, was premiered by Leopold Stokowski in his debut with the Houston Symphony, although the idea that Mysterious Mountain was commissioned for that orchestra is a Common misconception. That same year, MGM Records released recordings of a number of his works. Between 1956 and 1958, at the urging of Howard Hanson, an admirer of his music, he taught summer sessions at the Eastman School of Music long presided over by Hanson.


In the mid-1960s he spent several summers touring Europe, living and working much of the time in Switzerland.


He then studied Japanese gagaku music (learning the wind instruments hichiriki, shō, and ryūteki) in the spring of 1962 with Masatoshi Shamoto in Hawaii, and a Rockefeller Foundation grant allowed him further gagaku studies with Masataro Togi in Japan (1962–63). Also while in Japan, he studied and played the nagauta (kabuki) shamisen and the jōruri (bunraku) shamisen. In recognition of the musical styles he studied in Japan, he wrote Fantasy on Japanese Woodprints, Op. 211 (1965), a concerto for xylophone and orchestra.


He and his then wife then set up a record label devoted to the release of his own works, Poseidon Society. Its first release was in 1963, with around 15 discs following over the next decade. Following their divorce, the rights to this catalog were acquired by Crystal Records.


In 1965, as part of a U.S. government-sponsored delegation, he visited Russia as well as Soviet-controlled Georgia and Armenia, the only time he visited his paternal ancestral homeland. While there, he donated his handwritten manuscripts of harmonized Armenian liturgical music to the Yeghishe Charents State Museum of Arts and Literature in Yerevan.


Hovhaness stated in a 1971 interview in Ararat magazine:


Continuing his interest in composing for Asian instruments, in 1981, at the request of Lou Harrison, he composed two works for Indonesian gamelan orchestra which were premiered by the gamelan at Lewis & Clark College, under the direction of Vincent McDermott.


Significant archives of Hovhaness materials, comprising scores, sound recordings, photographs and correspondence are located at several academic centers, including Harvard University, University of Washington, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington, MA, and Yerevan’s State Museum of Arts and Literature in Armenia.

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