Magazine Mar/Apr 2013 Synthesizing Emotions

01 April 2013, 17:37
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Synthesizing Emotions

Internationally renowned innovative composer Edvard Mirzoyan was a man of many talents and vocations. As the president of Composers’ Union of Armenia, he created infrastructures, providing composers and musicians with housing and work facilities and was the driving force behind countless cultural and music events. As the president of the Peace Foundation of Armenia, he helped during difficult times after the earthquake. A talented teacher, Mirzoyan continued his teaching career in Yerevan Conservatory until the last days of his life. After his passing, many celebrated cultural figures appealed to the Armenian government and the Composers’ Union to name the Composers Retreat in Dilijan after Edvard Mirzoyan. The decision is yet to be made.

Edvard Mirzoyan’s music is innovative, sensual and complex – a synthesis of many musical directions. Voluminous books are dedicated to the interpretation of his musical legacy, but its beauty and scale become apparent on the very first encounter of the listener with his music. One invariably perceives cosmic drama and tragic connotations in his compositions, but when the composer was asked about the meaning behind it, he always replied that it was never his intention to evoke cataclysmic events, social or natural disasters through his works, and that he was mostly interested in love and human emotions.

His talent was recognized early on in his life. Great composer Aram Khachaturian supported Mirzoyan from their very first encounter in 1938. “You are a great talent, and you should not undermine yourself. Each talent has its own specifics, the special trait of your talent is that it is very flavorful, very close to life, very democratic. Please take care of yourself, remember my mistakes and try not to repeat them,” wrote Khachaturian in 1962. The process of writing was never easy for Mirzoyan – uncertainty and dissatisfaction, typical for true artists, were always part of his creative process, even after his international recognition and awards. His first symphony was never put on paper. Having finished it in 1955, Mirzoyan constantly played it on the piano, but never wrote down a single note. The entire composition was in his head, the harmony, the character of orchestration, the form. When asked why it was not recorded, Mirzoyan explained, “I lost interest in it. One can lose interest in a woman or his own work. Also because when I started writing it down, I was constantly making changes, and it would become a different piece – something continuously dissatisfied me. In fact, I had many pieces like that – “Concert for a Trombone,” “Sonatina” for piano.”

Perhaps the same fate awaited Mirzoyan’s famous “second” and only symphony. Once again, he kept playing and composing without writing it down. Eventually it was put on paper thanks to his student and loyal friend, composer Konstantin Orbelian, who quite audaciously sent an announcement to the Soviet Music magazine in Moscow stating that the premiere of Mirzoyan’s new symphony would take place during the Composer’s Convention. So Mirzoyan had no choice but to write down its final version in the course of a month. Needless to say, he did it in a state of hasty panic. Mirzoyan’s “Symphony for Strings and Timpani” became a pinnacle of the 20th century and a new page in the history of Armenian music. It was celebrated and performed many times throughout the world, and its life goes on.

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