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Alan Hovhaness

  • American composer
  • Born March 8, 1911
  • Died June 21, 2000

Alan Hovhaness (; March 8, 1911 – June 21, 2000) was an American composer. He was one of the most prolific 20th-century composers, with his official catalog comprising 67 numbered symphonies (surviving manuscripts indicate over 70) and 434 opus numbers. The true tally is well over 500 surviving works since many opus numbers comprise two or more distinct works. The Boston Globe music critic Richard Buell wrote: "Although he has been stereotyped as a self-consciously Armenian composer (rather as Ernest Bloch is seen as a Jewish composer), his output assimilates the music of many cultures.


There were periods when I sometimes made fires in a large, open fireplace that lasted about two weeks, which was how long it took to burn my compositions. So there has been an awful lot that I have destroyed.




I found a greater identity with my own emotions in the Armenian culture as I grew older, as well as from the beginning, although I didn't know anything about it.




I did all kinds of things in order to earn a living.




My mother's background was Scottish. She came from an old family, some of whom lived in upper New York State and some of whom had come over from Scotland.




I think that of my 21 symphonies, each has its own place.




No, no, I didn't know him. He lost his mind around 1917 because of the tragedy of the Armenians.




I was much more interested in the orchestra than the piano, but I did become fairly proficient as a pianist and my teachers felt I had talent and wanted me to become a good concert pianist and earn my living that way.




I've always regarded nature as the clothing of God.




I was born in Somerville, but I don't remember very much about it because we moved from there to Arlington when I was five years old, and it was in Arlington that I spent most of my childhood.




There is nothing like practice.




This is not to say that the Scots are not fine people, but they were all sort of... well, my grandfather was a minister and sort of Protestant, and this was rather depressing to me.




It's hard for me to think of others because I'm not particularly in sympathy with the music of this century.



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