May 2, 2004 at 12:39 AM · Some people find him to be one of the greatest (and underrated) American Composers...others have found him to be redundant and bland. I think his music is beautiful and innovative and I am rather pleased with the fact that he is slowly gaining the popularity he deserves (anyone who wrote such a beautifully haunting viola concerto deserves it). What are your opinions???

Replies (11)

May 2, 2004 at 12:51 AM · im actually playing a piece in a concert by him tomorrow called Chahagir for Solo Viola....its interesting, and really shows the deep tone of the viola by use of the form of a tone poem. the theoretical standpoint of it is very interesting too.

May 2, 2004 at 01:58 AM · Hovhaness is absolutely amazing. I have a good number of recordings of his stuff (including a couple of recent recordings that haven't been released yet because my pianist just recorded them).

I played Chahagir last year. It's great.

Hovhaness was just so totally spiritual and in touch with nature- notice that a lot of his music is based on mountains, like 'Mount Kahtadin' (sp?) and then there's 'And God Created Great Whales.'

I have the Campuan sonata for viola and piano plus the solo viola sonata. Both are really interesting pieces.

May 2, 2004 at 02:34 AM · I have a wonderful recording of his "Talin" concerto for viola and orchestra, performed by Emanuel Vardi (you can't find it on CD...the only recording that I have ever found is a relatively bland arrangment for clarinet and orchestra). There is a spiritual depth in his work that is just unbelievable, and he was definantly a master at writing counterpoint, too. He wrote wonderful viola music too; his "voice" seemed to be a perfect fit for the veiled, haunting tone of the viola. It really is musical Transcendentalism...philosophically on par with Emerson and Thoreau

May 2, 2004 at 02:48 AM · I'm a huge fan of Hovhaness's works.

Anyone familiar with his concerto for violin and string orchestra? It's very gorgeaus! He wrote tons of really great things, and I think anyone who is remotely into modern music should give him a chance!

May 3, 2004 at 09:56 AM · He really is a special composer!A life-long meditator, his insight into the psyche always rings with sincere understanding.

When I want bland and repetitive(never!) I turn to the pseudo-industrial wankings of Phil Glass, whom -I must admit- has improved over the years.Some melodies now emerge from his pastiches of hypnogagic cross-harmonies.

January 21, 2011 at 04:35 AM ·

I'm on a bit of a Hovhaness kick right now....   very many performances of Chahagir recently, plus very intensive analysis paper written about it (!!!  and I'm neither in school nor otherwise publishing....  go figure...  it was just that interesting, and in exactly the dimensions of musical forces I love the most!) (plus, I was dared, and I didn't refuse the dare!)

Long ago I played "And God Created Great Whales" in the All-Northwest high school orchestra...

I have other Pacific Northwest connections with him...  

Love his thinking!

Love his music!



January 21, 2011 at 04:38 PM ·

Hovhannes wrote such a huge volume of music; that's probably where the "repetitive" comes from.  As far as "bland"- huh?  This winter the orchestra I play in did his Fantasy on Japanese Woodprints for xylophone and orchestra.  I can't imagine anyone calling it bland.  It's an incredible piece, and the sort that has the audience on it's feet before the last few notes. 

Time will winnow out the wheat from the chaff in his music, the way it does with all composers.  What's left will be some pretty amazing stuff.

January 22, 2011 at 01:29 AM ·

I keep waiting for Charlton Heston to walk in and part the Red Sea.  Majestic stuff.

January 22, 2011 at 02:16 AM ·

The Hovhaness website:  http://www.hovhaness.com/Hovhaness.html
The listing of works Op. 1 to Op. 434 with publisher; <http://www.hovhaness.com/hovhaness_works.html>

Recording of Talin

 • Janabar (for piano¹, violin, trumpet² and strings) 1st recording
• Shambala (concerto for sitar³, violin and orchestra) 1st recording
• Talin (concerto for viola and strings)
Christina Fong (violin, viola), ¹Paul Hersey (piano),
²Michael Bowman (trumpet), ³Gaurav Mazumdar (sitar)
Rastislav Štúr / Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
OgreOgress 2006b • Timing 98 mins

December 14, 2014 at 02:48 AM · Alan Hovhaness wrote his 2nd violin concerto for me and I played it as a young Juilliard student. Alan came to the rehearsals of the premiere performance with the Tulare County Symphony in CA and it was a big success with over 2500 people there. Since I grew up playing Armenian folk music, the piece contained scales and rhythms of Armenian music and the cadenza which I wrote imitated the sound of the kamancha (spiked fiddle played in that part of the world). Alas, I took a job as a record producer at BMG Classics and did not pursue the violin. But I am thinking of digging up the Hovhaness again since the 100th Anniv. of the Armenian Genocide is coming up and people have asked about performing the piece for a commemoration concert.

December 14, 2014 at 05:27 PM · I don't think the scope of Hovhaness's work is as broad as some others, but I wouldn't call it redundant. And one person's bland is another person's subtle.

Sibelius is hailed as a great composer but after playing the Karelia Suite in our local amateur orchestra, I decided to listen more to his orchestral work and I thought there was a lot of commonality between Finlandia and the Karelia Suite. Is it redundancy? Or is it the composer's individual style and sound?

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