Armenian composer Arno Babajanian (Babadzhanyan) was known as a performer with superb sight-reading skills, impressive memory, great expression and technical finesse. As a composer, he is celebrated for his integration of styles including Armenian folk music, jazz, rock ’n’ roll, and classical creating an original style instantly recognized as being his whether through his classical compositions or through his popular music.
Babajanian received his earliest musical influences from his father, an accomplished folk musician. His early musical education began in 1928 as one of the gifted students at the Yerevan Conservatory under Vardkes Talian, who insisted that the young musician study Armenian folk music traditions in addition to the music of Vartabed Komitas. The premiere of his first symphony was in 1934 at age thirteen. Babajanian graduated from the conservatory in 1947 and entered the Moscow Conservatory in the following year to study piano under Konstantin Igumnov who incorporated study of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Scriabin into Babajanian’s education. This rigorous curriculum, paired with Babajanian’s natural talent, transformed him into a virtuoso on the piano, graduating as a concert pianist and composer in 1948.
For composition, Babajanian studied under Heinrich Litinsky at the House of Armenian culture in Moscow while studying performance at the Conservatory. In 1950, Babajanian returned to Armenia to teach piano at the Yerevan Conservatory, compose and perform and remained there until 1956. Babajanian died in Moscow in 1983. In Yerevan in 2003 a monument was erected in his honor at the Opera Square which depicts Babajanian playing the piano and was designed by David Benajyan.