Alan Hovhaness Website

Historic Hovhaness Concert-Lecture now Available as MP3 Download from Amazon

"We have done so much damage to the world we live in ... we may not be able to continue in it much longer"
Alan Hovhaness, concert-lecture October 10th, 1975.

The prophetic quote above is not what one might expect to hear from your average American classical composer addressing a concert audience in the mid-1970s but as Hovhaness' visionary music attests, he was an artist who looked beyond the mundane, ever mindful of the 'bigger picture'.

This quote can be heard in a rare 1975 Hovhaness concert-lecture which features his clarinet, soprano and piano trio Saturn Op.243, and also Schubert's Shepherd on the Rock, whose scoring was the model for the larger Hovhaness work. The original Grenadilla CD issue was in 2003, but the album is now downloadable as individual mp3 tracks from Amazon websites.

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Performances of both the Hovhaness and Schubert are first rate, but it is undeniably the Hovhaness lecture (actually more of an informal talk) that will garner most interest from his ardent admirers. Before speaking about Saturn's music, Hovhaness provides his audience with the unexpected bonus of "warming himself up" by performing his early Ghazal No.1 for piano. From talking about Saturn he veers onto other subjects such as his childhood interest in astronomy, why he writes his own libretti, and ends by taking audience questions. In all, the composer speaks for about 25 minutes.

The driving force behind the original Grenadilla Music recording and its CD reissue was clarinettist and ensemble leader Lawrence Sobol, something of an unsung hero of Hovhaness' music since the 1970s. Hovhaness wrote two works for Sobol's Long Island Chamber Ensemble in the 1970s, Saturn and Firdausi, and in 1977, at Sobol's suggestion, made a clarinet version of his viola concerto Talin. Additionally, it was Sobol who brought together the Hovhaness 80th Birthday Gala in Carnegie Hall, New York, managing to enlist such musical notables as Karel Husa, and folk singer Richie Havens.

As well as clocking in at over an hour, the CD version of this lecture-concert (for those able to obtain it) contains an illuminating booklet interview with Sobol, in which he reflects with great humility on his many years as a friend and active champion of Alan Hovhaness.  He also provided the booklet's list of tribute quotes to Hovhaness from renowned musicians and artists such as Lou Harrison, Keith Jarrett, William Saroyan and Leopold Stokowski.

Alan Hovhaness thanks the Long Island Chamber Ensemble musicians for their performance of Saturn.
Left to right: Lucy Shelton (soprano), Hovhaness, Peter Basquin (piano), Lawrence Sobol (clarinet).