Spendiaryan (Spendiarov) Alexander was born on October 20, 1871 in Kakhovka (Kherson Oblast, Ukraine). He was an Armenian composer, conductor, pedagogue and public figure.  People’s artist of Armenian SSR (1926). Father of T. Spendiarova and brother of L. Spendiarov.

Alexander Spendiaryan graduated from the Faculty of Law of Moscow University (1895). He studied theory of composition with N. Klenowsky in Moscow from 1892 to 1894 and with N. Rimsky-Korsakov in St. Petersburg from 1896 to 1900. 

He lived in Crimea, where he was engaged in social activities. As a composer he had an influence of Russian and Armenian music. Among his works are “Oh Rose” (Aye vard) romance (1894, lyrics by A. Tsaturyan), “Fisherman and a fairy” ballad for bass and orchestra (1902), “Edelweis”  (1911, lyrics by M. Gorki). Spendiaryan was close to the intellectuals of the time (M. Saryan, H. Tumanyan, A.  Isahakyan, A. Tamanyan, V. Surenyants, R. Melikyan, N. Tigranyan, N. Lyadov, A. Glazunov).

In 1905 he wrote an open letter against excluding N. Rimsky-Korsakov from the academic staff of conservatory of  St. Petersburg. In his works he created bright, poeticized and folk-based music.  He composed “Over There, Over There, to the Field of Honor” for tenor and orchestra (1914, based on Kh. Abovian’s “Wounds of Armenia”), and aria “To Armenia” (lyrics by H. Hovhannisyan, 1915).

His symphonic poem “The Three Palm Trees” (1905), legend “Beda the Preacher” (1907) and “We Shall Rest” were awarded the prize after Glinka (1908, 1910, 1912). In Crimea from 1917 Spendiaryan headed choirs, contributed to the foundation of music school, arranged folk songs, as well as his songs (“Varshavyanka”, “Brave friend”). He had concerts in Moscow, Petrograd. In 1924 he moved to Yerevan, where he took part in the foundation of symphonic orchestra, as well as music publishing house. 

He wrote opera “Almast” (based on the poem “The Siege of Tmouk Castle” by H. Tumanyan, 1923, staged in 1930).  The performance of the opera was given in the opening ceremony of Yerevan State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in 1933. Two suites “Crimean Sketches” (1903, 1912), “Yerevan Etudes” (1925) and his other compositions are classical pieces of the Armenian symphonic music. Alexander Spendiaryan played an important role in establishing national school of composition, its artistic principles and characteristic style. He enriched the Armenian music with new artistic concepts, subject matters, variety of genres, expressive means, creating the foundation of national Armenian symphonic music. 

Spendiaryan house-museum was founded in 1967, Yerevan State Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet was named after Alexander Spendiaryan in 1933. Music school N 1 and  a quartet (1932-56) were named after Spendiaryan. Spendiaryan’s complete collection of works in 11 volumes was published. Spendiaryan died on May 7, 1928 in Yerevan.


Source - "Who is Who. The Armenians", encyclopedia, volume II, chief editor Hovh. Ayvazyan, Yerevan, 2007.


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