Boriss Parsadanjan

May, 14, 1925, Kislovodsk, Russia – May 14, 1997, Tallinn
Member of the Estonian Composers’ Union since 1954

Composer Boriss Parsadanjan who was also an active figure in Estonian music life has been one of the most prolific symphonists in Estonia – he has composed 11 symphonies, 2 overtures and 2 epic poems, also large-scale vocal music with a symphony orchestra and instrumental concertos (for violin and cello). His oeuvre also consists of chamber music (including music for solo instrument and voice), one opera and incidental music. Armenian folk music can be found in Parsadanjan’s expressive use of the orchestra. Parsadanjan’s works show a great understanding of orchestra and instruments. There is a similarity of dramatic expression with Dmitri Shostakovich, although Armenian timbres cannot be denied.

Boriss Parsadanjan began his music studies by playing the violin in Asgaban with Anton Bergler. He continued with violin with Vladimir Vulfman at Gnessin Music School in Moscow, graduating in 1950. In 1948–1953, he studied composition under the supervision of Genrih Litinski at the Studio of the Armenian House of Culture in Moscow, playing violin in a variety orchestra of All-Union Radio. In 1953, after marriage with Estonian, he moved to Estonia, where Parsadanjan graduated in Heino Eller’s composition class at Tallinn State Conservatory in 1959.

Parsadanjan worked as a violinist in Estonian Television and Radio Symphony Orchestra (Estonian National Symphony Orchestra) (1953–1968), held the post of deputy managing editor of music broadcasts of the Central Television of the USSR (1968–1970), instructor of department of culture of the Estonian Communist Party (1970–1973), consultant of the Estonian SSR Composers’ Union (1973–1975) and artistic director of the Estonian SSR State Philharmonic (1975–1986).

Parsadanjan’s works have been performed by many musicians and music groups, e. g. Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (conductors Roman Matsov, Neeme Järvi, Eri Klas and Peeter Lilje), Borodin String Quartet, violinists Viktor Pikaizen, Mirosalv Russin (Mirosalv Roussine) and Tatjana Grindenko, pianist and conductor Yevgeny Svetlanov. His works has been recorded for Estonian Radio and on several LPs under the Soviet label Melodija. Also an author CD „Ein musikalisches Porträit“ has been released (Bella Musica, 1998). Boriss Parsadnajan’s compositions have won prizes at composition competitions, e.g. 1st prize at the Republican competition for instrumental pieces in 1976. Some of his works have been published by Edition 49.

Boriss Parsadanjan was given the honorary title of Estonian SSR Honoured Worker in Arts (1967) and Estonian SSR People’s Artist (1984) and he has been awarded the Estonian SSR annual prize for music (1973, 1979, 1982).

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