Alan Hovhaness


Born: March 8, 1911; Somerville, MA   Died: June 21, 2000; Seattle, WA  
Alan Hovhaness, one of the most prolific composers of the twentieth century, left behind a legacy of hundreds of works, including more than 60 symphonies, numerous choral works, ballets, and operas, and all manner of chamber music. Hovhaness, born of Scottish and Armenian descent in 1911, took an early interest in composition, and by the age of 13 had composed two operas. After studies at the New England Conservatory with Frederick Converse, Read more Hovhaness made a favorable impression with his first acknowledged symphony, Exile, when it was performed by the BBC Symphony in London in 1939. The works of Hovhaness' early period both reflect the influence of Renaissance music and utilize the harmonies of the late nineteenth century. During the 1930s the composer developed an interest in Indian music, which became one of the most pervasive influences upon his own works from that time on. In 1942 he received a scholarship to the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, where he attended composition seminars led by Aaron Copland (assisted by Leonard Bernstein). The experience, unfortunately, was less than positive, since both Copland and Bernstein were highly critical of Hovhaness' music. The ridicule he experienced led Hovhaness to leave Tanglewood early. Discouraged, he destroyed many of his early works. Serendipitously, though, the composer's return to Boston was followed by a meeting with the Greek painter and psychic Herman DiGiovanno, who convinced him to study the music of his Armenian ancestry. Further immersion in Armenian church music led Hovhaness to the works of Komitas Vartabed, a priest and composer who died in 1936 and whom Hovhaness described as the "Armenian Bartók." Hovhaness' discovery of Armenian music had a direct effect upon his own works, which became more rhythmically and contrapuntally active and began to reflect the improvisatory nature of Armenian church melodies.

During the 1940s Hovhaness furthered his study of the Armenian culture, playing organ at an Armenian church and learning the Armenian language, and took a further interest in the Eastern philosophies. The growing success of his music in the 1950s led to several important grants and commissions; a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1951 allowed him to move to New York. After composing Ardent Song (1954), a ballet score for Martha Graham, Hovhaness toured the Far East. Still shunned by the mainstream musical establishment of the time, he continued to receive recognition from without, including Guggenheim Fellowships in 1953, 1954, and 1958. A commission from the Houston Symphony, the Symphony No. 2 ("Mysterious Mountain"; 1955) provided Hovhaness his first popular success. The work was auspiciously premiered by Leopold Stokowski, and the redoubtable Fritz Reiner made a highly regarded recording of it with the Chicago Symphony.

After receiving a Fulbright Fellowship in 1959, Hovhaness again toured the East and was the first Western composer invited to participate in the music festival in Madras, India. He was also received warmly in Japan, where he made television appearances and conducted his music with the Tokyo Symphony. During a return to Asia in 1962 on a Rockefeller Grant, Hovhaness studied the ancient court music of Japan and Korea.

The aural result of the composer's immersion in Eastern culture is a musical language invested with a sense of mysticism and spirituality. Among his voluminous catalogue, Hovhaness' colorful orchestral works have maintained the greatest popularity among audiences; notable examples include the Symphony No. 17 ("Symphony for Metal Orchestra"; 1963); And God Created Great Whales (1970), which incorporates recordings of actual whale "songs," and the Symphony No. 50 ("Mount St. Helen's"; 1982). Read less
Browse 1-25 of 136 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    American Vistas / Concordia String Trio
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3625 Release Date: 08/03/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Walter Piston,  Alan Hovhaness,  Leonard Mark Lewis,  John Harbison  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Concordia String Trio
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  • 2.
    Hovhaness: Wind Music, Vol. 3 / Central Washington University Wind Ensemble
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559837 Release Date: 03/09/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness
    Performer:  Maggie Whiteman,  Taylor Edwards,  Adrienne Shields,  Clara Mannino
    Conductor:  Larry Gookin,  Keith Brion,  Mark Goodenberger
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Central Washington University Wind Ensemble
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  • 3.
    British Enigmas & Mysterious Mountain / Schwarz
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 2110562 Release Date: 09/08/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir Edward Elgar,  Benjamin Britten,  Alan Hovhaness,  Sir Eugene Goossens
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  All-Star Orchestra
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  • 4.
    American Psalmody of the 20th Century / Gloriae Dei Cantores
    Label: Paraclete Recordings   Catalog: 8299 Release Date: 09/30/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Samuel Adler,  Charles Ives,  Alan Hovhaness,  Daniel Pinkham  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloria Dei Cantores Schola Choir
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  • 5.
    Soaring Solo / Sant'Ambrogio
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1627 Release Date: 08/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Grazyna Bacewicz,  Ernst Toch,  Alessandro Rolla,  Georg Philipp Telemann  ... 
    Performer:  Stephanie Sant'Ambrogio
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  • 6.
    The Trumpet Sounds
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3429 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ian Coleman,  Aaron Copland,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Philip Wilby  ... 
    Performer:  Ann Marie Rigler,  Randolph Lee,  Ronald [Baritone Vocal] Witzke
    Conductor:  Anthony J. Maglione
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  GKCAGO Schola Cantorum
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  • 7.
    Rosario Mazzeo: Clarinetist, Inventor, Educator - Performances From The Chamber Music And Orchestral Repertoire
    Label: Boston Records   Catalog: 1078 Release Date: 03/03/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Franz Schubert,  Ernst Levy,  Alan Hovhaness  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Veissi,  Joseph Stepansky,  Rosario Mazzeo,  William Vanden Burg  ... 
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  • 8.
    Hovhaness: Symphony No 48... / Schwarz
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559755 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness
    Performer:  Greg Banaszak
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Eastern Music Festival Orchestra
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  • 9.
    Together / Yolanda Kondonassis, Jason Vieaux
    Label: Azica   Catalog: 71297 Release Date: 01/27/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maximo Diego Pujol,  Xavier Montsalvatge,  Gary Shocker,  Alan Hovhaness  ... 
    Performer:  Yolanda Kondonassis,  Jason Vieaux
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  • 10.
    Label: Milan   Catalog: 36708 Release Date: 12/02/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner,  Vasily Kalinnikov,  Hanan Townshend,  Anonymous  ... 
    Performer:  Brit Marling
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  • 11.
    Music For Brass & Organ / Thompson Brass Ensemble
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1481 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  André Campra,  Alan Hovhaness,  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Giovanni Gabrieli  ... 
    Conductor:  Barbara Bruns
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Thompson Brass Ensemble
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  • 12.
    Hovhaness: Piano Works / Pompili
    Label: Dynamic   Catalog: 7701 Release Date: 10/14/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness
    Performer:  Alessandra Pompili
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  • 13.
    Rca Living Stereo Collection, Vol. 2
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 300350 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Byron Janis,  Gary Graffman,  Vladimir Horowitz  ... 
    Conductor:  Josef Krips,  Fritz Reiner,  Pierre Monteux,  Charles Munch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony of the Air,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 14.
    As Water Ascends To A Cloud / Opus 7
    Label: Gothic Records   Catalog: 49285 Release Date: 04/29/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Muehleisen,  Ron Jeffers,  Lorri Froggét,  David Asplin  ... 
    Conductor:  Loren W. Ponten
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  • 15.
    Whettam, Faure, Hovhannes, Piazzolla, Tausky
    Label: Stradivarius   Catalog: 33875 Release Date: 02/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Graham Whettam,  Gabriel Fauré,  Alan Hovhaness,  Astor Piazzolla  ... 
    Performer:  Gianluca Littera
    Conductor:  Francesco Di Mauro
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  • 16.
    Panorama Of American Piano Music / Yvar Mikhashoff
    Label: Mode   Catalog: 262 Release Date: 12/03/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Leo Ornstein,  Charles Tomlinson Griffes,  Percy Aldridge Grainger,  Aaron Copland  ... 
    Performer:  Yvar Mikhashoff
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  • 17.
    Classical Wellness: Musical Tonics For Mind, Body And Spirit
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3464 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Henri Vieuxtemps,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov,  Wolseley Charles,  Dmitri Shostakovich  ... 
    Performer:  Dmitry Khakhamov,  Oleg Sergeev,  John Aler,  Grant Gershon  ... 
    Conductor:  Constantine Orbelian,  James DePreist,  Gerard Schwarz,  Anatoly Lapunov  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Russian Folk Ensemble Balalaika,  Style of Five,  Brazilian Guitar Quartet  ... 
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  • 18.
    Classical Chamomile
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 1629 Release Date: 10/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Antonín Dvorák,  Alan Hovhaness,  Camille Saint-Saëns  ... 
    Performer:  Elmar Oliveira,  Douglas Davis,  Zuill Bailey,  Carol Rosenberger  ... 
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz,  David Wiley,  Constantine Orbelian,  Aldo Parisot
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Shanghai Quartet,  Yale Cellos
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  • 19.
    Piano Seasons / Grete Sultan
    Label: Wergo   Catalog: 4043 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg,  John Cage,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Grete Sultan
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  • 20.
    Lullaby & Nocturne / David Hays, Peter Collins
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1436 Release Date: 05/14/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Xaver Neruda,  Igor Stravinsky,  Sergei Lyapunov,  Fritz Kreisler  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Collins,  David Hays
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  • 21.
    40 Tracks for 40 Years - Delos Anniversary Set
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3440 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Antonín Dvorák,  Aram Khachaturian,  Erich Wolfgang Korngold  ... 
    Performer:  James Earl Jones,  Charles Butler,  Marina Domashenko,  Dmitri Hvorostovsky  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrew Litton,  Zdenek Macal,  Constantine Orbelian,  James DePreist  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra,  New Jersey Symphony Orchestra,  Moscow Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 22.
    Violin Lullabies / Pine
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 139 Release Date: 04/30/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Eugčne Ysa˙e,  Vladimir I. Rebikov,  Amy Marcy Beach  ... 
    Performer:  Rachel Barton Pine,  Matthew Hagle
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  • 23.
    Recursions / Nicholas  Cords
    Label: In A Circle   Catalog: 6 Release Date: 03/12/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Heinrich Ignaz Biber,  Traditional,  Edmund Rubbra,  Alan Hovhaness  ... 
    Performer:  Nicholas Cords
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  • 24.
    Alan Hovhaness: The Historic Moscow Recordings
    Label: Cristofori   Catalog: 889 Release Date: 11/27/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Spoken Word,  Alan Hovhaness
    Performer:  Martin Berkofsky,  Andrei Ikov,  Atakan Sari,  Sergei Podobedov  ... 
    Conductor:  Konstantin Krimets
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  • 25.
    Scenes From A New Music Seance
    Label: Other Minds Records   Catalog: 1019 Release Date: 10/30/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ronald Bruce Smith,  Charles Amirkhanian,  Ruth Crawford Seeger,  Alan Hovhaness  ... 
    Performer:  Kate Stenberg,  Eva-Maria Zimmermann,  Charles Amirkhanian
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