"Jivan Gasparyan devoted nearly all of his concert to slow songs, and he turned nearly every one into a quiet, riveting drama" - John Pareles, New York Times
Jivan Gasparyan – he is a person, who can be called as a world music legend, an individual, who has introduced the world with the Armenian folklore and music performed with duduk.
Jivan Gasparyan has a sever childhood, as the latter he has spent in the orphanage, his mother died early and father was a soldier of WWII. He was six years old, when he started intuitively to play the instrument without knowing any notes. His first instrument was the gift of well-known musician Margar Margaryan. He used to listen to the play of old maestros and play the music with his instrument.
And only in 1947 he went to Moscow with the national amateur ensemble. “In 1947 I had a concert in Moscow, where Stalin was present. After the concert he gave me a “Pobeda” watch. That day turned out to become a decisive one for my future.
Everyone was talking about that. Another special day for my life was the day when I had to take the entrance exam for the ensemble of Tatul Altunyan. That was in 1949, when Altunyan entered and saw me, I was a thin and small guy keeping duduk in my hands, he said: “And this guy is going to become the soloist of the ensemble?” It affected me and frustrated. And how could I play after all that happened?
The first musical composition I performed all shivering, then the second and the third ones a little bit calmly. Tatul Altunyan was listening to me with great interest. When I finished he said: “Immediately prepare the contract and let him work”. That was on Thursday.
On Friday and Saturday I had two rehearsals with ensemble, and on Sunday we had a concert. It became a story, since in two days I managed to learn the entire program by heart. At the time, I could not read notes, because I did not know anything”.
In 1956 Jivan Gasparyan received the first prize in his life in the contest of duduk performers. In 1959 he became the gold medal owner in the Fourth International festival under the aegis of UNESCO. In 1962 he gained the silver medal and 1973 – the bronze one. After this contest the government of RA awarded him with the “National Artist of RA” honorary title. In 1980 he received the award for the fourth time.
In 1988 English musician Bryan Eno by chance heard the performance of the Maestro in Moscow. So he decided to invite him to London. Since then Jivan Gasparyan has had a new period in his career that has brought an international fame not only to him, but also to the Armenian folk music. He put out his first album called “I will not be sad in this world” that includes all the ancient Armenian national songs and ballads. The latter was devoted to the victims of earthquake in Armenia.
In the revolution period he left for abroad: “I have lost all my savings and had only 100 dollars earned during the tours. My friends bought tickets to the USA for my family. Four long years I had lived far from my homeland …” Maestro said. He was not happy there and when he had an opportunity, he came back to Armenia. As Maestro says: “You can feel inspiration and power only in your homeland.”
When he came back, he started to work as a professor in Yerevan State Conservatory.
At the same time he released an album called “Black Rock” in the cooperation with Michael Bruck in the “Real World” company. He also collaborated with Peter Gabriel, composed the soundtrack for “The Last Temptation of the Christ” film. Maestro Jivan had concerts in all over the world giving performances in the cooperation with the “Chronos quartet”, symphonic orchestras of Vienna, Yerevan and Los-Angeles.
He gave a concert in Los Angeles with the local philharmonic orchestras. In 1999 he was working on the music of the “Seige” film. In 2000 he began to cooperate with Hans Tsimmer for composing the soundtrack to the "Gladiator" film. Jivan Gasparyan became famous owing to the “Siretsi, yaris taran” national song, that became the basis for this soundtrack. In 2001 this composition gained the “Gold Globe” prize.
Mr. Jivan is an author of the soundtracks composed for seventeen films, some of them are “The Russia House”, "Oneguin", "The Crow", "Seige", "Calendar", "Doctor Givago", "Frescos", he worked with Boris Grebenshikov at the “Sister Chaos” album.
In 2002 Jivan Gasparyan gained the prestigious “Womex Lifetime Achievement Award” in the “WOMEX” festival that took place in Essen (Germany). 1800 musicians from 78 countries participated in this festival. But only Jivan Gasparyan became a winner of this prize.
"In 2006 Maestro recorded soundtracks for the “A Breathe of Snow and Ashes” and “Sirena” (USA).
To follow the career of Maestro is not so easy, as he has become a solo performer on the stage of the Big theatre from the restaurant musician, the accompanist from the university professor etc. Only his biographer or agent may count the tours of Maestro. It seems the latter is everlasting… The compositions performed by Jivan Gasparyan can not be called just “national music”, as his contribution in the Armenian national music popularization has no analogues, and may be that’s why very often his numerous titles are added by one more “Musical Heritage Guardian of his people”.