Tigran Mansurian

Tigran Mansurian, the son of Armenian parents, was born on 27 January 1939 in Beirut (Lebanon), where he attended the French Catholic School. In 1947 he and his family returned to their homeland. After having attended a special music school, Mansurian studied composition at the Yerevan Conservatory, where he subsequently taught music analysis with special emphasis on New Music.
Within the space of only a few years he advanced to become one of Armenia’s leading composers. As time went on he developed friendly artistic relationships with composers such as A. Volkonsky, E. Denisov, A. Schnittke, S. Gubaidulina and A. Pärt, and with performers such as N. Gutman, O. Kagan, K. Georgian, and later with Kim Kashkashian and Eduard Brunner. At the beginning of the 1990s Mansurian was appointed director of the Yerevan Conservatory. In recent years he has devoted himself exclusively to composition.
Mansurian’s work includes orchestral works, seven concertos for string instruments and orchestra, sonatas for violoncello and piano, three string quartets, choral music, chamber music, and works for solo instruments.

Mansurian has said that his models were the Armenian composer Komitas and Claude Debussy. Early in his career he became acquainted with the music of Pierre Boulez, and was soon able to make deft use of complicated modern compositional techniques. In the course of time he developed an increasingly simple and almost liturgical kind of style. He attained to a terse and economical mode of expression which in a mystical kind of way combines ancient and modern elements. Mansurian’s music reflects the heritage of the venerable musical tradition of Armenia, which dates back more than a thousand years and ranges from the melodies of mediaeval ecclesiastical chant to specific scalar systems and musical forms. The composer’s sensitivity and his understanding of the spirit of the age find expression in his attempt to rebuild the musical bridges that were destroyed in the final years of the twentieth century.

Mansurian’s music is lyrical. And the lyrical images of his music possess a suggestive power which, despite its reductionist slant, none the less makes it sound emotional.