Arno Babadjanian – Impromptu (audio + sheet music)

Arno Babadjanian was a well-known composer and pianist within the Soviet Union but, in common with many of his contemporaries, awareness of the man and his music was limited by the State-imposed restrictions on performing abroad. Not until the collapse of the Soviet Union did his music become available to a global audience and it is only now that his name is becoming more widely known.

Babadjanian was born in Yerevan in 1921. His parents were not musicians, although his father could play Armenian national instruments, which was an important influence on his son. In 1938 he moved to Moscow and was immediately accepted into the final year class at the Gnesin Music College, where he studied in Yelena Gnesina’s piano and Vissarion Shebalin’s composition classes. He enjoyed the support of Aram Khachaturian and Dmitry Shostakovich and in 1943 became a member of the USSR Composers’ Union. In 1948 he graduated from the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory in the class of Konstantin Igumnov. In 1946, in parallel with his piano studies, he took composition lessons with Heinrich Litinsky at the Moscow House of Armenian Culture. For many years he collaborated closely with the composers Alexander Harutiunian, Edvard Mirzoian, Lazar Sarian and Adam Khudoian, a group of Armenian composers who were recognised as the new Mighty Handful. The partnership of Harutiunian and Babadjanian resulted in the creation of the popular Armenian Rhapsody for two pianos (1950). In the Soviet Union Babadjanian was awarded many official prizes and worked with a large number of distinguished colleagues, notably Mstislav Rostropovich, Emil Gilels, David Oistrakh, Lev Vlasenko and Jean Ter-Merkerian.

Babadjanian, the composer, wrote music in many genres. His Piano Trio (1952), Sonata for violin and piano (1959), Cello Concerto (1962), Violin Concerto (1949), Heroic Ballade for piano and orchestra (1951), and String Quartet (1976), dedicated to the memory of Shostakovich, are among his best-known compositions. In addition to his formal scores he composed numerous songs, film music and musicals.

Arno Babadjanian was also a brilliant pianist whose performing skills have often been compared to those of Sergey Rachmaninov, and perceptive audiences always valued his performances of his own works. His perfect technique was allied to a sensitive approach and a rich palette of expression inherited from his mentor Konstantin Igumnov. His music can be characterized by three main elements: Armenian folk-music, the piano art of Rachmaninov and Khachaturian’s orchestral writing. He died on 11th November 1983 in Yerevan.

Impromptu (1936) was written during the composer’s earliest creative period and has a special modal structure as well as metre and rhythm typical of Armenian traditional music, so that it gives the impression of a genuine Armenian folk-song.


Please take note that the audio AND the sheet music ARE NOT mine. Change the quality to a minimum of 480p if the video is blurry.

Original audio:
(Performance by: Mikael Ayrapetyan)
Original sheet music:


Leave a Reply