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Khachaturian, Aram (1903 – 1978)

‘It seems to me that I still have not written a piece that has completely satisfied me’

A good two-page autograph letter signed by Aram Khachaturian, circa 1961. Written on both sides of a single sheet, the composer sends an unusually detailed letter, responding to a series of questions posed to him by a group of enthusiasts in Budapest.

Khachaturian opens by apologising for the delay in responding, then noting, ‘Your love for music, and interest in it as musicians, make me happy. Do love music and do study it more deeply. Music enriches the spiritual world of a person.’ He goes on to respond to his recipients” questions:

‘Question: What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in life. Reply: I do not believe that I have accomplished any particular achievements in my life. Although I like my creations I am, at the same time, not pleased with them. It seems to me that I still have not written a piece that has completely satisfied me.’

Question: What are you currently working on? Answer:  I recently finished a rhapsody-concert for a violinist with orchestra, the first performance of which I have entrusted to the famous violinist Leonid Kogan. Now I am finishing a clavier (keyboard?) rhapsody concert for cello (violoncello?) with orchestra.’

Question: What is your opinion on the youth of today, including Soviet youth? Reply: To speak about all the youth of today without differentiation is very difficult. The spiritual world of the young person of today, his moral character, depends on the environment in which he is brought up. I think that everywhere in the world there are good people and bad people. But in many instances they are not to be blamed for being bad. Soviet youth in the main (not taking into account the many instances of moral depletion) is healthy, spiritually rich and inquisitive. The youth of the Soviet Union is a great force which takes part in all aspects of our life and in many circumstances finds itself ahead of the older generation. It labours, it creates and it creates things of spiritual and material value. Our youth is concerned by the big questions of life today such as peace, friendship between nations, whether there will be war or not. Our youth aims to acquire knowledge, indeed to acquire lots of knowledge . It aims to be in the avant-garde  of contemporary life.

‘You ask if Soviet youths like music. I often appear in front of youthful audiences. I must say that, surprisingly, our youth strives towards serious music. When we meet them they bombard us musicians with never-ending questions. We have a system of cultural universities built on social and revolutionary foundations. These universities do surprisingly big things in relation to the lifting of culture  and in relation to attracting simple people, workers, servants to art. In the republics (ie of the USSR) we have whole nations who have reached great heights of musical culture which before the October revolution were in the main uncultured.’

The composer concludes, ‘So there my dear friends are my short answers. I wish you success in your studies and in your work. Aram Khachaturian.’

Letter folds and age-toning, otherwise in fine condition.