Zakharii Paliashvili

Paliashvili, Zakharii Petrovich


Born Aug. 4(16), 1871, in Kutaisi; died Oct. 6, 1933, in Tbilisi. Soviet composer, teacher, and public music figure. Major representative of Georgian classical music. People’s Artist of the Georgian SSR (1925). Son of a singer in a church choir.

Paliashvili studied music in a Catholic school, where he sang in the choir and took organ lessons. He studied piano under F. Mizandari. From 1895 to 1899 he studied the French horn at the Tbilisi Music School and composition theory under N. S. Klenovskii. From 1900 to 1903 he studied at the Moscow Conservatory in the composition class of S. I. Taneev, who familiarized him with Russian music and contributed to the development of his skill as a composer. As a prominent public music figure, Paliashvili helped found the Georgian Philharmonic Society in 1905, and from 1908 to 1917 he headed the society’s choir, orchestra, and music school, all created at his initiative. In 1919 he became a professor at the Tbilisi Conservatory, of which he was the director in 1919 and 1923 and from 1929 to 1932.

Paliashvili is one of the founders of professional Georgian national music. At the same time, his works—deeply folk and national in content and style—follow the best traditions of classical Russian music. His operas Abesalom and Eteri (1919, Tbilisi) and Daisi (Twilight, 1923, Tbilisi), which were seminal works in the history of Georgian music, occupy the central place in his creative legacy. The musical language of his operas is grounded firmly in Georgian folklore. The chorus plays a significant role. Fighting against national exclusiveness, he surmounted the disconnected character of the numerous dialects of Georgian songs by uniting the typical stylistic peculiarities of the various ethnological branches of Georgian folk music in a single national musical language that served as the basis for the classics of Georgian music.

Among his compositions are the opera Latavra (1927); the Ceremonial Cantata (for the tenth anniversary of the October Revolution, 1927); a Georgian suite, based on folk themes, for symphony orchestra (1928); an adaptation for mixed chorus of the Georgian liturgy; art songs; choruses; and adaptations of folk songs for chorus a capella and for chorus with symphony orchestra. He collected almost 300 folk songs, some of which were published in 1910 in the Collection of Georgian Folk Songs. The Georgian Theater of Opera and Ballet is named in his honor.


Donadze, V. Zakharii Paliashvili, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1971.
Taktakishvili, O. “Neugasimyi fakel gruzinskoi muzyki.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1971, no. 8.