Aleksandr Spendiarov

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Spendiarov, Aleksandr Afanas’evich


(real surname, Spendiarian). Born Oct. 20 (Nov. 1), 1871, in Kakhovka; died May 7, 1928, in Yerevan. Soviet composer, conductor, teacher, and public figure; representative of Armenian classical music. People’s Artist of the Armenian SSR (1926).

Spendiarov graduated from the law faculty at Moscow University in 1895. He studied composition theory under N. S. Kle-novskii in Moscow from 1892 to 1894 and under N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov in St. Petersburg from 1896 to 1900. He lived for a long time in the Crimea.

Spendiarov’s creative work developed under the influence of the progressive Russian and Armenian culture. He associated with, for example, A. K. Glazunov, M. Gorky, and the poet O. Tumanian. As a composer, Spendiarov advocated realistic art and program music. In his works he created poeticized images of nature and realistic scenes of national life. He composed the symphonic poem The Three Palm Trees (1905), the legend Beda the Preacher (1907), and We Shall Rest (1910; a poetry recitation to musical accompaniment, with text by A. P. Chekhov). These three works were awarded the Glinka Prize in 1908, 1910, and 1912, respectively. Protest against social injustice and an appeal to freedom are the themes for the elegy The Unreaped Strip (1902; for chorus and orchestra, with words by N. A. Nekrasov), the heroic song “Over There, Over There, to the Field of Honor” (1914; based on Kh. Abovian’s novel Wounds of Armenia, with lyrics by I. Ioannisian), and the aria with orchestra To Armenia (1915).

Spendiarov contributed to the building of Soviet culture after the October Revolution of 1917. He directed amateur choruses and orchestras and adapted national and revolutionary songs. In 1924 he moved to Yerevan, where he participated in the work of the Institute of Science and Art and the conservatory. He also helped organize a symphony orchestra and a publishing house specializing in musical material.

At the height of his career, Spendiarov composed Yerevan Etudes (1925; for orchestra). Until his death, he worked on the heroic-patriotic opera Almast (1930, Moscow; based on Tumani-an’s narrative poem The Capture of Tmkabert). He also composed Concert Overture (1900), two suites entitled Crimean Sketches (1903, 1912), the cantata Memories of V. V. Stasov (1907), romances, poetry recitations to musical accompaniment, vocal ensembles, choruses, and chamber music.

The Armenian Theater of Opera and Ballet was named in honor of Spendiarov.


Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1–10. Compiled and edited by G. E. Budagian. Yerevan, 1943–71.
“Avtobiografiia.” Sovetskaia muzyka, no. 4,1938.


Shaverdian, A. A. A. Spendiarov. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Spendiarova, M. Spendiarov. Moscow, 1964.
Tigranov, G. A. A. Spendiarov, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1971.
Aleksandr Spendiarov: Stat’i issledovaniia. Compiled by G. G. Geodakian. Yerevan, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
There were also well known pieces by such distinguished Armenian composers as Aram Khatchaturyan, Alexander Spendiaryan, Arno Babajanyan, and others, as well as an Armenian national song, In Foreign Vacant Roadway, as a tribute to Leyloyan's home country.