VAJA AZARASHVILI (b 1936 )
Vaja Azarashvili is one of the most significant pioneers of the Georgian classical idiom. He represents the generation of Georgian classical composers who emerged in the former Soviet Union in the 1960s.
Azarashvili was born in 1936 in Tbilisi. His father was a musician, who specialised in folk music and played on Georgian folk instruments. Early exposure to ethnic music rooted in a free improvisational style and inherently connected with Georgian poetry, soon revealed Azarashvili’s interest and talent for composition. He received his initial music education in composition at the College of Music in Tbilisi. From 1956 to 1963, he studied at the Tbilisi State Conservatory, where he completed courses in undergraduate and post-graduate studies majoring in composition.
The year 1969 became significant in the young composer’s life: the premier of his Cello Concerto No. 1, performed by the celebrated cellist Eldar Issakadze (Peoples’ Artist of Georgia), brought Vaja Azarashvili instant recognition and popularity. Multiple performances of the Concerto followed shortly after, in the former Soviet Union and in Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Following this success, the Viola Concerto, written in 1973, secured Azarashvili’s reputation as a master of the concerto form, of which he has written seven.
Chamber music is central to Vaja Azarashvili’s expression of lyricism, and he has written a large number of compositions in this genre. The list of works includes sonatas for different instruments, quartets, quintets, piano duos and music for chamber orchestra.
In the 1970s, Azarashvili turned to vocal music, writing six operettas, two song cycles using classical Georgian poetry and many art songs. Throughout his career Vaja Azarashvili has written popular songs, and music for theatre and film. Many of his songs are dedicated to his beloved city at Tbilisi. This brought him tremendous popularity in Georgia.
Currently, he is working as a professor of composition in Tbilisi State Conservatory. For his artistic achievements, he has been awarded numerous awards and honours, including the highest title of Peoples’ Artist of Georgia.
Dr Angela Cholakian