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Khachaturyan’s music helped Ernest Hemingway to know Armenia – highlights of composer’s South America tour

YEREVAN, JANUARY 31, ARMENPRESS. Renowned Armenian composer Aram Khachaturyan visited South America on numerous occasions as part of foreign tours.

ARMENPRESS presents the most significant meetings of Khachaturyan in South America.

Meeting with Hemingway

In 1960, Khachaturyan was invited to perform in Cuba – to conduct the Symphonic Orchestra of Havana.

It was an unexpected meeting in the hotel lobby when Khachaturyan and Hemingway saw each other, and the American writer didn’t miss the chance to invite the maestro, with his spouse, to his home.

Being a huge fan of Hemingway, Khachaturyan kindly accepted the invitation. Khachaturyan later recalled the meeting, saying that Hemingway is a deep psychologist, who can understand from the first sight what kind of a man is standing in front of him. Hemingway had said that he is trying to get to know Armenia through the music of Khachaturyan. And it was from the maestro’s music that the American novelist said that Armenia must be one of the most beautiful countries of the world.

“The meeting proceeded in a warm atmosphere. From a lengthy conversation it turned out that not only was Khachaturyan a fan of Hemingway, but also the other way around. One episode proves the casual and friendly nature of the meeting. Khachaturyan’s wife liked the mushroom soup very much, and Hemingway offered a second portion. However, it turned out that there was so soup left, and the American novelist simply poured the soup from his own bowl into hers”, Armine Grigoryan, director of the Aram Khachaturyan House Museum told ARMENPRESS.

During the meeting the composer offered Hemingway to visit the USSR, which he accepted, but couldn’t manage to come.  A photo of their meeting is displayed in both the Khachaturyan museum in Yerevan, and the Hemingway museum in Cuba.

Hemingway was unable to attend Khachaturyan’s concert since he was finishing a book. However, Hemingway’s wife Mary attended the concert.  After the concert she sent a letter to Khachaturyan, saying that two wonders happened that night in Havana – first the Havana  Symphonic Orchestra led by Khachaturyan which sounds completely different, and second – Khachaturyan’s Second Symphony. Cuban President Fidel Castro and Che Guevara also attended the concert.

Meeting with famous Armenian families in Argentina

In 1957, when Khachaturyan was on tour in South America, he also visited Buenos Aires. As it is known, there is a significant Armenian community there, and certainly many were willing to meet the composer. One of the highlights include a meeting with the Arzumanyans, a wealthy and prominent family.

Knowing in advance that the composer will visit Buenos Aires, the Armenian family bought a unique 1911 grand piano. It was made from walnut wood, the keyboard was made from ivory, and the cover was the original of Henry Bonis’s Undine. The Arzumanyan family thought that the maestro deserves only such a fine-made instrument. Khachatryan kindly accepted the offer and played on the piano. In 2003, the daughter of the Arzumanyan Senior donated the grand piano to the Khachaturyan museum on the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.

Meeting in the home of Brazilian-Armenian Tiran Mostijyan

A similar meeting took place in Brazil. During the same tour, he was hosted by a famous Brazilian Armenian – Tiran Mostijyan.

Mostijyan too owned an exclusive piano, which resembled a wardrobe when closed. After a meal, Khachaturyan played the piano. After his performance, Mostijyan approached the composer with a nail in his hands and asked Khachaturyan to leave his signature on the piano. Khachaturyan was initially angered, but after lengthy requests he signed the instrument.

“The instrument was donated to the museum in Yerevan in the 80s”, Grigoryan said.




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