On today's date in 1945, the Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness served as both the soloist and conductor in the first performance of his piano concerto entitled "Lousadzak." The exotic title, Hovhaness explained, was a "made-up Armenian word meaning "dawn of light."
"I wrote it to play and conduct myself with an amateur orchestra," recalled Hovhaness. "When we played it in Boston my hands were so busy all the way that I couldn't give many cues."
When Hovhaness repeated his new concerto at Town Hall in New York, one newspaper sent the composer Lou Harrison as its music critic to cover the event.
"The intermission that followed was the closest I've ever been to one of those renowned artistic riots," recalled Harrison. "In the lobby, the Chromaticists and the Americanists were carrying on at high decibels. What had touched it off was the fact that here was a man from Boston whose obviously beautiful music had nothing to do with either camp and was its own very wonderful thing. My guest John Cage and I were very excited, and I dashed off to the lamented Herald Tribune and wrote a rave review while John went back to the Green Room to meet Alan."
For his part, Hovhaness said: "I believe in melody, and to create a melody one needs to go within oneself. I was very touched when John Cage said my music was like inward singing. I must admit there is always music in my head."
Music Played in Today's Program
Alan Hovhaness (1911 - 2000)LousadzakKeith Jarrett, piano; American Composers Orcehstra; Dennis Russell Davies, cond.MusicMasters 60204