Balanchivadze, Meliton Antonovich
Born Dec. 12 (24), 1862, in the village of Banodzha near Kutaisi; died there Nov. 21, 1937. Soviet composer and musical personality. One of the originators of Georgian professional music. People’s Artist of the Georgian SSR (1933).
Balanchivadze sang in church choirs from childhood. In 1883, with F. Koridze, he began to note down and rehearse with the choir Georgian folk and sacred songs. In 1889 he began studying voice at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and, in 1891, the theory of composition with N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov and harmony with J. I. Johansen. Between 1895 and 1917, Balanchivadze performed with choirs, which he organized himself, in cities of central Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic region, and Georgia, popularizing Georgian folk music. In 1918 he founded the Kutaisi School of Music, which now bears his name. His work promoted the development of the national musical culture.
Balanchivadze wrote the first national opera, Perfidious Daredzhan, based on A. Tsereteli’s dramatic narrative poem Perfidious Tamara. Excerpts from the opera were performed in 1897 in St. Petersburg; in 1926 the second version was staged in Tbilisi. Balanchivadze composed the first Georgian love songs, using Georgian folk-song intonations.