Program Notes

By Jason Sundram

Trumpet Concerto in A-flat major (1950)

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Alexander Grigori Arutunian (September 23, 1920)

  1. Andante—Allegro energico
  2. Meno mosso
  3. Tempo I

Alexander Arutunian was born in Erevan, Armenia, on September 23, 1920 and graduated from the Erevan Conservatory 1941. He studied composition with Litinsky in Moscow at the House of Armenian Culture (1946–48), and then returned to Armenia as Music Director of the Royal Philharmonic Society. In 1954, he was appointed music director of Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra. He was given a “People’s Artist of the USSR” award in 1970.

The melodic and rhythmic characteristics of Armenian folk music are a strong influence in Arutunian’s work. As a composer, he expresses his nationality by incorporating the flavor of ashughner (folk minstrel) improvisations. At the time the concerto was written, his compositional style was similar to Khachaturian's. However, in the 1960s he tended towards classical forms and clearer tonality.

Arutunian’s trumpet concerto was his sixth major composition. It was written in 1950 for the renowned trumpet player Timofei Dokschitzer. The concerto's introduction to the United States is solely due to Dokschitzer; he immigrated to the United States and brought the concerto with him. It is an energetic powerhouse of Eastern European lyricism and harmonic textures.