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Welcome to the official website of the People's
Artist of the USSR, composer, Konstantin Agaparonovich
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A talented composer of classical music (symphony, ballet, chamber
ensemble), jazz, and popular songs, Konstantin Orbelian is one of
the brightest phenomena of Soviet and post-Soviet musical culture.
He is the recipient of significant awards in the former Soviet
Union, the Armenian Republic, and the international musical
community. He has received the highest accolades from the three
Soviet presidents: the award “For Services to Labor” from
Khrushchev; the title “People’s Artist of the USSR” from Brezhnev,
and, finally, the “Friendship of Peoples” prize from Gorbachev in
Konstantin Orbelian has been acknowledged as a pianist and
improviser since he was in his teens. At age fifteen, he was invited
to perform with the Armenian State Pop Orchestra; and subsequently
became its conductor. Under his able direction for thirty-six years,
the Orchestra rose to become one of the most accomplished of its
kind. As a result, it came to represent Soviet jazz in more than
thirty countries in Eastern and Western Europe, the Near East,
Africa, and Southeast Asia. One of the Orchestra’s highlights was
its American tour in 1975, which included twenty-five concerts in
major cities from coast to coast.
Graduating in composition and piano from Edward Mirzoyan’s class of
composition at Yerevan’s Komitas Conservatory in 1963, Orbelian
achieved early recognition for his String Quartet, winning the
coveted First Prize at the International Competition in Moscow,
where the chairman of the Competition’s panel of judges was the
composer Dmitri Shostakovich. As a result, Orbelian’s rising talent
and success were noted with great appreciation by the doyen of
Armenian music of the time, Aram Khachaturian. Next followed the
premiere of Orbelian’s First Symphony in Moscow’s famous Tchaikovsky
Hall by the USSR State Symphony Orchestra. For this Symphony,
Orbelian was awarded the title “Laureate of the All-Union
Competition.” His subsequent Celebration Overture achieved the same
acclaim. His ballet symphony “Immortality” was composed in 1975 and
performed by the Yerevan Opera and Ballet Theater. This work, too,
won First Prize in an All-Union Competition devoted to music for the
One of Orbelian’s more recent compositions in the classical idiom,
an orchestral miniature with solo piano, was written in memory of
George Gershwin, and was first performed by the Moscow Chamber
Orchestra under the direction of Orbelian’s nephew,
Ever versatile in the scope of his repertoire, Konstantin Orbelian
has written musical scores for a number of films, including Krkesi
Chanaparhin [On the Way to the Circus] and Sirte Yergum e [The Heart
Sings]; music for the theater; pop songs; jazz; and scores for
stage musicals. Several of these compositions have won prestigious
prizes. The subject of two documentary films in Russian, Orbelian
is currently vice-president of the International Association of the
Union of Musicians in Moscow.
Dear Kotik! I think highly
of you and believe in your enormous talent. I am waiting for your new
works and wishing great successes to your wonderful orchestra.
Orbelian is one of the few modern composers to achieve equal success in
the classical and pop music genres. I know of few examples of such talent;
the brightest of them, is probably Leonard Bernstein. I think the most
remarkable of Orbelian's compositions are the String Quartet and the First
Symphony, which was highly praised by Dmitri Shostakovich. Konstantin Orbelian’s music
delicately combines the modern musical palette and the spirit of the
Armenian folk music.
To Konstantin, a fine musician, my warmest
Hollywood, California, 1975
The Orbelian orchestra has shattered the myth about the prohibition of
secret existence of the Soviet Jazz.
"New York Times"
Several of the soloists, as suggested by
Konstantin Orbelian in his visit, could move immediately into
the bands of Don Ellis, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and the
"San Francisco Chronicle"