Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Rostom Alajian - Unquenchable Flame Of Remembrance

Years ago my university studies and an international university exchange program took me down to Thessaloniki, Greece's second biggest city, where the food is ample and the girls are pretty. Apart from the picturesque seafront, the amazing food and the vibrant political movement, which included a lot of demonstrations, strikes, occupations and clashes with the police, as well as an active hardcore punk/noise scene (which will be covered soon), I also discovered a few music gems. One of them is this cd featuring orchestral music composed by Soviet-Armenian-Greek composer Rostom Alajian. Apart from being a veteran of the antifascist war against the Nazis, Alajian was also the director of orchestras in Armenia, Georgia and Vladikavkaz. This cd includes two symphonic pieces with choirs dedicated to the Soviet Great Patriotic War and the battles in Crimea, Stalingrad and Pribaltika, with narrations in Russian, with that unrivaled emotional manner than only Russians can deliver. The music contains influences of Shostakovich, particularly the Leningrad symphony and his film music (King Lear/ Hamlet), albeit intertwined with military music and socialist realist overtones and elements of Central Asian/Oriental music. On top of that the choirs are as awesome as Russian military choirs can be, making you wanting to slap Nazi skinhead fucks. I discovered this cd in an immensely dusty second-hand bookshop run by a strange man who was the husband of the composer's daughter, the latter of whom self-released this cd in 2004.



  1. (((((Holy sh*t))))) !!! And wow....and more wow....I haven't been this amazed/surprised in a long time - obscure Soviet-era composers is my "thing" so to speak, and this is beyond obscure - this rarified gem of a recording is clearly as inaccessible as the Melodiya recordings/archive/vaults yet here it is!
    I immediately searched for info on the composer and literally nothing other than your profoundly important share turned up; that's impressive and discouraging both as clearly Alajian was quite the composer and there are no evident resources at this time. -Did you get any additional info from the composer's daughter, and do you have her information? I have to say based on what I've heard on this disc I can imagine a label like Toccata Classics taking up the cause for this unsung composer.. If you have additional info do let me know with a reply!

    How I wish we had translations of the clearly powerful text!

    You my friend, made my night - hundred fold.


  2. Hello Tz, thank you for the good words.

    Unfortunately I don't have any more information abour Alajian. I didn't really meet his daughter, just his son-in-law who run the bookstore in question, and he was quite a grumpy dude tbh. His bookstore has a website in Greek (, and there is a thingy running on top of the page informing about a radio show on the 100th anniversary of Alajian's birthday, which possibly aired in 2016. However, I can't find anything in the archive of the Greek TV/Radio broadcasting corporation. I think that the only way you can find additional info is by emailing the book guy here

    sorry I can't help more with this!

  3. Hi again Vladimir, your'e welcome! You deserve it!!

    Thank you for the link, shall check it out right away. Are you a fan of Russian/Soviet composers composers in general? I first fell in love with classical music thanks to Prokofiev's Lt. Kije Suite, and the Classical Symphony No 1, when I was around 17ish, the passion began and now 10,000 or so ("classical" ie medieval - contemporary) discs later I know a thing or two ;)