Arno Arutyunovich Babadjanian (Babadzhanyan) was born on January 22, 1921, in Erevan (now Yerevan), Armenia. His father, named Arutyun Babadjanian, was a mathematician and also an excellent flute player of the Armenian folk music. At the age of 5, he was noticed by composer Aram Khachaturyan, who recommended that Babadjanian must study music seriously.
In 1928 he was admitted to the group of gifted children at the Yerevan Conservatory. At the age of 9, Babadjanian wrote his first composition, ‘Pioneer’s March’. He was very good at sight-reading and had a remarkable memory. His piano playing at the young age was already marked by unusual power of expression and technical finesse. At the age of 12, Arno Babadjanian became the winner of the First Prize at the Armenian Republic National Competition of the Young Musicians. There Babadjanian performed the piano sonata No. 4, by Ludwig van Beethoven and ‘Rhondo Capriccioso’ by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.
Babadjanian continued his music studies under the tutelage of the notable Armenian composer Sergei S. Barkhudaryan (Barkhudarov) from 1936-38. In 1938 Babadjanian moved to Moscow and was admitted to the graduate level at the Gnesin School of Music, where he studied piano with Yelena Gnesina and composition with Vissarion Shebalin. His talent was noticed by many intellectuals in Moscow. He continued his studies at the Moscow Conservatory. There he studied piano under the famous concert pianist Konstantin Igumnov, who guided Babadjanian through the wisdom of the ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ by Johann Sebastian Bach, as well as the piano works by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ludwig van Beethoven and Frédéric Chopin. He also studied composition under the notable ethnomusicologist ‘Heinrich Litinsky’ at the House of Armenian Culture in Moscow. Babadjanian graduated as a concert pianist and as composer in 1948. He was a professor at the Yerevan Conservatory from 1950-1956. While in Armenia Babadjanian composed his most celebrated concert works such as the ‘Heroic Ballade’ for piano and orchestra (1950), the ‘Armenian Rhapsody’ for two pianos (1950), and the acclaimed ‘Piano Trio’ (1952).
Babadjanian became famous with his title song for the film ‘Song of the First Love’ (1958). It became a popular radio hit and a best-selling record in the former Soviet Union. At that time the cultural “Thaw” was initiated by Nikita Khrushchev and that allowed some degree of artistic freedom of expression. Babadjanian wrote many popular songs in collaboration with the leading poets such as Yevgeni Yevtushenko, Robert Rozhdestvensky, Andrei Voznesensky, Bella Akhmadulina and others. In partnership with the popular singer Muslim Magomayev Babadjanian produced many successful recordings. He also composed a large-scale ‘Cello Concerto’ (1959) dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich, and important music for piano, especially his innovative ‘Six Pictures for Piano’ (1965).
Arno Babadjanian created a successful cross-cultural style of his own. His original style absorbed a variety of influences including jazz, rock’n roll, classical music, and the traditional Armenian folk-music. Babadjanian’s original style is immediately recognizable by everyone who once heard his classical compositions and popular hits. He dedicated himself to teaching and concertizing instead of becoming a prolific composer. He died on November 11, 1983, in Moscow.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov