6 June 1903 - 1 May 1978 (age 74)

One of the 'three titans of Soviet music' - with Shostakovich and Prokofiev.
Khachaturian was an Armenian composer best known for the 'Sabre Dance' from the ballet Gayaneh and for the theme tune of the 1970s TV series 'The Onedin Line' which was taken from the ballet 'Spartacus'





portrait of Khachaturian


Born: Kodzhori (now Tbilisi), Georgia
- Egia (Ilia) Khachaturian - bookbinder
Mother: - Kumash Sarkisovna
Siblings: sister Ashkhen (died at the age of 1.5) and 3 brothers - Vaghinak, Suren and Levon
Partners: Married twice. His second wife, Nina Makarova, was also an active musician and wrote songs.
Children: 1 daughter - Nune, a pianist, from 1st marriage. 1 son Karen, an art critic
Died: Moscow, 1 May 1978
Cause of death: unspecified
Grave: Komitas Pantheon, Yerevan, capital of Armenia see findagrave


3 Symphonies

Symphonic suite, Masquerade

Violin Concerto

Piano Concerto

Cello Concerto

Masquerade, (Symphonic Suite)

Ode to the Memory of Lenin and Poem about Stalin,

Ballet, Happiness

Ballet, Gayane (including Sabre Dance)

Ballet, "Spartacus" ­ (includes the popular Adagio)

postage stamp of Khachaturian


- Early years: Although he enjoyed music as a youngster he didn't study it until he was 18.
-Age 18: Moved to Moscow. to join his brother who was the stage director of the Second Moscow Art Theatre. He entered the Gnessin Academy to study cello.
- Age 22: Began studying composition.
- Age 26: Studied composition with Myaskovsky, 'Father of the Soviet Symphony' at the Moscow Consevatory. 
- Age 31: Graduated with his First Symphony. Married his fellow student Nina Makarova, also a composer.
- Age 33: Piano Concerto
- Age 34: Appointed deputy chairman of the Moscow branch of the Composers' Union.
- Age 36: Premier of his first ballet: Happiness
Appointed vice-chairman of the Organizing Committee of Soviet Composers. Awarded the Order of Lenin.
- Age 37: Masquerade and Violin Concerto.
- Age 40: Second Symphony completed. 
He joins the Comminist Party
- Age 44: Third Symphony completed.
- Age 45: The Communist Party Central Committee condemns Khachaturian, Shostakovich and Prokofiev as 'formalist and anti-popular'. They are all forced to apologise.
- Age 46: Ode in Memory of  Lenin published. He returns to official favour but is devastated and writes no more symphonies.
- Age 48: Appointed professor at the Gnessin Academy and at the Moscow Conservatory.
- Age 50: Stalin dies.
- Age 53: Ballet Spartacus completed.
- Age 74: Tours Great Britain.
- Age 75: dies in Moscow on 1 May 1978 and is buried in Yerevan, capital of Armenia.
He was awarded a long list of awards and privileges including Soviet Russia's two highest awards: the Order of Lenin, and the Stalin Medal (three times).

Documentary film

A highly recommended 2003 documentary based on his memoirs. Rare archive materials from Russia and Armenia have been used. Family members interviewed on camera.

The DVD is available from Amazon. It is also available on Youtube in 10 episodes. You can watch the first one here below. Total time is 84 minutes.


Sabre Dance
played by the Marimba Ponies from Japan

Masquerade Waltz

Spartacus - Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia
(Better known by some as the theme of the TV series 'Onedin Line')

Violin Concerto, last movement. 
Simonyan violin

Cello Concerto Rhapsody
Conducted by Khachaturian
Played by Rostrapovich

postage stamp of Khachaturian

Links - and where to go for more information 

Russian Composers: more profiles here at 52composers.com

Virtual Museum - his official site


His grave

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