Alan Hovhaness in June

Alan Hovhaness (March 8, 1911 – June 21, 2000)

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Alan Hovhaness in my Princeton, NJ home, June 22, 1980

June has been a very important month for me for many years due to a number of noteworthy events in my life.
Since many of us are reminiscing about the old days during our difficult times, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you my June events, all of which happened during the second half of the month.

All of these focus on my friendship with the great American composer, Alan Hovhaness.

I was actually planning to present a special 6 hour special on Classical Discoveries on WPRB in his memory this month but due to changes in our world, I will do that another time.

It is amazing as to how one inspiring individual can effect one’s life. I will not go into detail about my whole Hovhaness story right now, but would rather just focus on the second half of June.

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Seattle, May 1992 in Elliott’s Oyster House

I communicated with Hovhaness for the first time the end of February, 1980 during my years as a student. Yes, I was very young! The composer invited me to discuss his music with him in Seattle which is where he lived. I was excited and beginning to plan a trip.

On June 13, 1980 I received a hand written letter from him telling me that unexpectedly he and his wife had to be in New York. Since he seemed like such a down to earth man, I decided to invite him and his wife and mother- in- law to dinner in our Princeton home. He accepted and our visit was exactly 40 years ago on June 22, 1980!!!! We had a wonderful time.

 

 

Fast forward now to June 17, 1986!!! Beata and I were already dating and met due to our common interest in Hovhaness’s music!  On that date, there was a big concert at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York which was in celebration of Hovhaness’s 75th birthday. Featured was his incredible St. Vartan Symphony!!!

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Beata and Hovhaness in New York on June 17, 1986

After the concert Beata and I got on the bus to go home. Since Beata’s birthday is June 18, I thought it would be really cool to propose to her (since I was planning to do that eventually) on the way back from the concert. Bad plan!!! Unfortunately, I could not propose to her at that time since we did not sit together on the crowded bus!!  I did though end up proposing to her on Sunday, June 22 and yes, she accepted!!

To conclude, June has not been all excitement for me regarding Alan Hovhaness. It was 20 years ago, on June 21, 2000 that my musical idol and friend passed away!!! I was crushed.

While being at home the past week, I was thinking about all of the wonderful memories related to Alan Hovhaness and how I met my wife, Beata whom loved our get togethers with the composer. I met Hovhaness numerous times over the years. These led to a few CD’s featuring the composer’s music.
What is amazing is how much one person can have so much effect on another!

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When reading my memorial tribute to Hovhaness (see link below) you will clearly understand as to how important he was to me and has been for almost my entire life.

To conclude, I would like to quote Hovhaness as taken from an interview with him for Ararat magazine in 1971. I think you will clearly understand why I chose this quote, given our sad situation today!

“We are in a very dangerous period. We are in danger of destroying ourselves, and I have a great fear about this…The older generation is ruling ruthlessly. I feel that this is a terrible threat to our civilization. It’s the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way…It’s gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what’s the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul. It’s of no use. “

Based on our current situation, we should hear Hovhaness’s music of deep spirituality more than ever. It provides hope and beauty, something we all need to survive in our troubled world!!

A link to my memorial tribute to Hovhaness ,written the morning after his death is here: http://www.classicaldiscoveries.org/alanhovhaness.html.

About marvinrosen
Music is my middle name

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