No doubt most viewers of this page will once more wonder who the heck this guy is, and what did he do to merit inclusion on a site dedicated to the likes of towering public figures like Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mick Jagger, Lizzie Borden, and William T. Cooper. Well, if those who don't know of Mr. Khacaturian's accomplishments want to learn more, they can take a minute or two to put down the remote, wipe the froth of beer from their lips, and read on.
Although he was born in Russia (Georgia) in 1903, Aram Khachaturian was Armenian and is recognized as one of Russia's top composers. His life began in the time of the Tsars, he lived through the Bolshevik Revolution, survived the era of the Gulag and the Cold War, and saw the onset of the thaw in the East/West tensions in the early 1970's. He died in 1978, a full decade before the fall of Soviet Communism.
Despite his name being virtually unknown to your average Joe Blow, everyone - and that means everyone - has heard at least one of his songs. That's the "Saber Dance" which with its driving, frantic tempo and rhythms has been used in films, television shows, and acrobatic and juggling performances. Perhaps its final honor (or indignity) was being included in the score of "Pee Wee Herman's Big Adventure."
Fortunately, a lot of Aram's other works are available. If you want to hear the "Saber Dance" in its full setting, get the "Gayaneh Suite". You'll be surprised that's not even the best song in the opus.
It's hard to think of Aram's music as "modern", and you'd think he would have been sitting pretty as a favorite son of Soviet officialdom. Not so. He was among the composer denounced in the 1948 Soviet Composer's Congress. You can learn more about that delightful era in CooperToons Merry History.