Alan Hovhaness

Biography

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
Hovhaness: Symphonies No 1 & 50 / Schwarz, Seattle
Release Date: 07/31/2012   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559717   Number of Discs: 1
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Hovhaness: Symphony No 60, Guitar Concerto / Leisner, Schwarz
Release Date: 12/12/2006   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559294   Number of Discs: 1
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Hovhaness: Symphony No 48... / Schwarz
Release Date: 02/10/2015   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559755   Number of Discs: 1
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American Classics - Hovhaness: Symphony No 22, Etc
Release Date: 04/15/2003   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559158   Number of Discs: 1
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American Mosaics - Powell, Hovhaness, Et Al / Cross, Chapman
Release Date: 11/28/2000   Label: Albany Records  
Catalog: 419   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 51-75 of 136 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    Hovhaness, Harrison: Symphonies / Russell Davies, Jarrett
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 2512 Release Date: 08/12/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness,  Lou Harrison
    Performer:  Keith Jarrett
    Conductor:  Dennis Russell Davies
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Composers Orchestra
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  • 52.
    Whitlock: Be Still, My Soul;  Hovhaness, Rutter, Elgar, Ireland, Etc / Pardini, Et Al
    Label: Pro Organo   Catalog: 7214 Release Date: 07/08/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alexander Brent Smith,  Christopher Steel,  Sir George Thalben-Ball,  Russell G. Wichmann  ... 
    Performer:  Dean Kokanos,  Liu XiuRu,  Curt Scheib,  Crystal Stryker  ... 
    Conductor:  J. Christopher Pardini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Shadyside Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir
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  • 53.
    American Classics - Hovhaness: Guitar Concerto No 2, Symphony No 63
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559336 Release Date: 06/24/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness
    Performer:  Javier Calderon
    Conductor:  Stewart Robertson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
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  • 54.
    Hovhaness: Janabar, Talin, Shambala / Stur, Fong
    Label: Ogreogress   Catalog: 5637326053 Release Date: 03/25/2008  
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness
    Performer:  Gaurav Mazumdar,  Christina Fong,  Michael Bowman,  Paul Hersey
    Conductor:  Rastislav Stúr
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra,  Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 55.
    Romances For Saxophone And Orchestra / Banaszak, Et Al
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2889/90 Release Date: 02/26/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  David Morgan,  Eugčne Bozza,  James Leatherbarrow,  Alan Hovhaness  ... 
    Performer:  Beata Urbanek,  Greg Banaszak,  Jan Kalinowski,  Marcin Klejdysz  ... 
    Conductor:  Piotr Borkowski
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Beethoven Academie
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  • 56.
    Hovhaness: Music For Horn, Voice & Strings / Dauer, Et Al
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2872 Release Date: 09/25/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness
    Performer:  Robin Dauer,  Suzanne Banister,  Karen Griebling
    Conductor:  Karen Griebling
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hendrix College Chamber Orchestra
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  • 57.
    Modern Music - Hovhanness, Et Al / Joshua Pierce, Et Al
    Label: Pitch   Catalog: 200207 Release Date: 09/18/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness,  Robert Bonotto,  Ivan Wyschnegradsky,  Roland Moser  ... 
    Performer:  Joshua Pierce,  Dorothy Jonas,  David Gold,  David Eggar  ... 
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  • 58.
    3 Centuries For 4 Brass / Metropolitan Brass Quartet
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1228 Release Date: 07/17/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Gervaise,  Anton Simon,  Andrea Gabrieli,  Bruce Adolphe  ... 
    Performer:  William Parker,  Douglas Hedwig,  Frank Hosticka,  Bruce Bonvissuto
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Brass Quartet
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  • 59.
    Hovhaness: Symphony No 60, Guitar Concerto / Leisner, Schwarz
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559294 Release Date: 12/12/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness
    Performer:  Lars Ranch,  David Leisner
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
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  • 60.
    The Divine Feminine
    Label: Telarc   Catalog: 80689 Release Date: 10/24/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Hildegard of Bingen,  John Tavener,  Arvo Pärt,  Tomás Luis de Victoria  ... 
    Performer:  Carlo Willems,  Elly Ameling,  Sylvia McNair,  Richard Leech  ... 
    Conductor:  Rudolf Werthen,  Robert Shaw,  Jesús Lopez-Cobos,  Yoel Levi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Tapestry,  I Fiamminghi,  Robert Shaw Festival Singers  ... 
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  • 61.
    American Classics - American Saxophone Music
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559241 Release Date: 08/29/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness,  Walter Hartley,  Rudy Wiedoeft,  Robert Muczynski  ... 
    Performer:  Neil Hornsby,  Alex Mitchell,  Jeremy Limb
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  • 62.
    Raritonality / Berz, Rutgers Wind Ensemble
    Label: Mark Masters   Catalog: 6199 Release Date: 07/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness,  Roger Nixon,  David Sampson,  Yotam Haber  ... 
    Conductor:  William Berz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rutgers Wind Ensemble
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  • 63.
    Dream World
    Label: High Strung   Catalog: 5637362043 Release Date: 04/04/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gabriel Fauré,  Enrique Granados,  Marcel Tournier,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Kirsten Agresta
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  • 64.
    Sounds Of Light / Trinity Choir Boston
    Label: Gothic Records   Catalog: 49245 Release Date: 03/14/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Morten Lauridsen,  Ernani Aguiar,  Traditional,  Colin Mawby  ... 
    Performer:  Dana Whiteside,  Michael Kleinschmidt,  Brian Jones,  Johanna Schlegel  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Trinity Church Choir
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  • 65.
    American Classics - Hovhaness Symphonies 4, 20, 53 / Brion, Et Al
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559207 Release Date: 11/15/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness
    Performer:  John Wallace
    Conductor:  Keith Brion
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish Academy Wind Orchestra
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  • 66.
    Trumpet Voices / Neal Bernsten
    Label: Four Winds   Catalog: 3026 Release Date: 10/11/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Vierdanck,  Heinrich Ignaz Biber,  Roger Dannenberg,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Neal Bernsten
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  • 67.
    Hovhanness: Symphony No 29
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3352 Release Date: 07/12/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alan Hovhaness
    Performer:  Charles Butler,  Michael York,  Diane Schmidt,  Christian Lindberg
    Conductor:  Donald Pearson,  Gerard Schwarz,  Keith Brion
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Denver St. John's Episcopal Cathedral Choirs,  Denver St. John's Episcopal Cathedral Orchestra,  Shanghai String Quartet  ... 
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  • 68.
    The Story of American Classical Music / Scherer, Et Al
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8558164-65 Release Date: 06/21/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  John Adams,  Philip Glass,  George Rochberg,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  Adele Anthony,  Peter Skaerved,  Mark Wait,  Mike Eldred  ... 
    Conductor:  Marin Alsop,  Takuo Yuasa,  Christopher Lyndon-Gee,  Kenneth Schermerhorn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bournemouth Sinfonietta Orchestra,  Ulster Orchestra,  Saarbrucken Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 69.
    World Premiere Collection - Corigliano, Cowell, Et Al
    Label: First Edition   Catalog: 32 Release Date: 03/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Roy Harris,  John Harbison,  Tobias Picker,  Joan Tower  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,  The Louisville Orchestra,  Houston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 70.
    Through An Open Window  / Shatin, Wenger
    Label: Innova   Catalog: 607 Release Date: 10/26/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Bill Rea,  Alan Hovhaness,  Janice Giteck,  Paul Schoenfield
    Performer:  Judith Shatin,  Lucy Wenger
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  • 71.
    A Letter To The Late Sergei  / Sakimoto, Mino
    Label: Camerata Records   Catalog: 28017 Release Date: 07/27/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Darius Milhaud,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Michael Spivakovsky,  Alan Hovhaness  ... 
    Performer:  Joe Sakimoto,  Haruki Mino
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  • 72.
    Mystics & Spirits / Marijim Thoene
    Label: Raven Recordings   Catalog: 680 Release Date: 07/27/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Jay Vosk,  Gordon Atkinson,  Olivier Messiaen  ... 
    Performer:  Marijim Thoene,  Kathleen Joyce-Grendahl
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  • 73.
    The Contemporary Harpsichord / Kroll
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 668 Release Date: 06/29/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Starer,  Peter Child,  Ronald Caltabiano,  Alvin Singleton  ... 
    Performer:  Mark Kroll,  Fenwick Smith,  Carol Lieberman
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  • 74.
    Label: Cantilena   Catalog: 5637532991 Release Date: 04/06/2004   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Lowell Liebermann,  Robert Muczynski,  Jindrich Feld,  Laurel Zucker  ... 
    Performer:  Laurel Zucker
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  • 75.
    Serenades For Flute And Harp / Laurel Zucker, Sara Cutler
    Label: Cantilena   Catalog: 5637533025 Release Date: 03/23/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Guillermo S. Roxlo,  Desire-Emile Inghelbrecht,  Carl Nielsen,  Johann Sebastian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Sara Cutler,  Laurel Zucker
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