Otar Taktakishvili

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Otar Taktakishvili (Georgian: ოთარ თაქთაქიშვილი; Russian: Отар Васильевич Тактакишвили; Tbilisi, 27 July 1924 – 21 February 1989) was a Georgian composer, teacher, conductor, and musicologist.

Otar Taktakishvili graduated from the Tbilisi State Conservatory, while still a student he composed the official anthem of the Georgian SSR. By 1949 he became a Professor of the Tbilisi Conservatory and the conductor and the artistic director of the Georgian State chorus. In 1951 he received his first Stalin Prize (USSR State Prize) for his First Symphony. In 1962, Taktakishvili became Chairman of the Georgian Composers' Union; and in 1965 the Minister for Culture of the Georgian Republic from 1965 until 1983.

He was awarded the title of People's Artist of the USSR in 1974, the Lenin Prize in 1982, and the USSR State Prize in 1951, 1952 and 1967. Throughout his career he also served as a member of the international musical committee of UNESCO, and twice headed the electoral committee for the Tchaikovski competition of pianists in Moscow.

Taktakishvili's works include operas (Mindia, First Love, Abduction of the Moon, Mususi, Three Tales), two symphonies, four piano concertos, two violin concertos and two cello concertos, the symphonic poem Mtsyri and the oratorios In the Steps of Rustaveli and Nikoloz Baratashvili, adaptations of Georgian folk songs (Megruli simgerebi, Guruli simgerebi), and a multitude of compositions for instruments and voice. Probably his best-known work in the West is his sonata for flute and piano.


Early Life

Otar V. Taktakishvili was born in 1924 in Tbilisi, Georgia, into a musical family. Otar grew up in Tbilisi on Shiomgvimeli street, in the Varaziskhevi neighborhood of Tbilisi. Raised by a single mother, Elezaveta Mikhailovna Taktakishvili, who worked as an artist at the Georgian Opera House, Otar had a childhood rich in music. He was strongly influenced by his uncle Shalva Taktakishvili, who was a composer and a professor at the Tbilisi Conservatory. Shalva was one of the founders of the “Association of Young Georgian String Orchestra", and had authored operas, ballets and chamber works. Otar’s other uncle, Giorgi Taktakishvili was a cellist and director of a music school. His uncles were young Otar's first musical guides and influences. From a young age, the composer showed great musical promise, and as a child was able to correctly guess notes played on the piano while blindfolded. While attending the No42 School on Barnov St. in Tbilisi, Otar started his piano lessons with Tamara V. Bagrationi. He subsequently studied with several piano educators including Militsa K. Korius, Anastasia D. Virasladze, and Evgenia Vasilievna Cherniavskaia, where he met his future wife, Irina Giorgienvna Chirakadze, with whom he lived until the end of his life in 1989. Their romance started at the piano while practicing a piano piece for four hands. At the end of high school, he attended and received a diploma from the Air Force Technicuum until he began his studies at the Tbilisi conservatory. Soon after entering the conservatory in 1942, while Georgia was at war with Nazi Germany, Taktakishvili composed the Anthem of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. According to the composer’s own report, his mother had urged him to enter the contest for the National Anthem after seeing the words to the anthem pubished in the newspaper. The 19 year old composer wrote the music “in one try”, submitted his entry and forgot about the contest. He only found out that his music had been selected when he stood outside the concert hall and heard his anthem being played.

Taktakishvili studied at the Tbilisi Conservatory under Aleksandr Gauk, Sergei V. Barchudarian and Andria Balanchivadze. The composer’s early influences were Georgian folk music, composers of the classical era, e.g. Mozart, J.S. Bach and Beethoven, and more modern composers, including Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich. In his senior year, Taktaishvili had the opportunity to study with Dmitri Shostakovich, and that led to a long standing collaboration and friendship.

Taktakishvili is survived by his spouse, Irina Chirakadze, who resides in the same apartment on 6 Taktakishvili street (former Riga street) where the composer lived from 1964 until 1989, as well as his son Mikhail O. Taktakishvili, who is a professor of Chemistry, and grandson Otar M. Taktakishvili, who is a physician and a composer, living in New York.


List of Works

Hymn of the Georgian SSR (1946) Text: A. Abasheli and G. Abashidse.

Cello Concerto No. 1 in D minor (1947) In three movements.

Symphony No. 1 "Youth Symphony" in A minor for full symphony orchestra (1949) In four movements: 1. Andante 2. Andante 3. Allegro scherzando 4. Moderato Orchestra: 3(picc.),3(E.H.),3,2 – 4,3,3,1 – kettledrums, side drum, cymbals, bass drum, chime bells – xyl – harp, pf – strings. First performance in 1949 in Tbilisi. LP Melodiya D 02348-: Radio Orchestra, Dimitriady (cond)

"Samgori", symphonic poem (1950)

Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor (1950) In four movements: 1. Allegro 2. Scherzo. Vivo e leggiero 3. Andante 4. Finale. Allegro molto Orchestra: 3(picc.),2(E.H.),2,2 – 4,3,3,1 – kettledrums, cymbals – strings. First performance: 15 November 1951 in Tbilisi. Video: (Movement 1 & 2) Moscow PO, Dong Hymn (cond), Jungram Khwarg (piano (Movement 3 & 4) Moscow PO, Dong Hymn (cond), Jungram Khwarg (piano LP Melodiya D 0420-1: USSR State Orchestra, Stasevich (cond), A. Jokheles (piano) LP Melodiya C10 10115-16: Central TV and Radio Large SO, O. Taktakishvili (cond), M. Mdivani (piano) CD Cambria Recordings CD-1120: Moscow PO, Dong Hymn (cond), Jungram Khwarg (piano) (Release: 2000)

Three Pieces for Piano (1951) “Poem” Luka Okrsotsvaridze "The Prisoner" for piano (1951) “Festive Overture” for symphony orchestra (1951) Symphony No. 2 in C minor for full symphony orchestra (1953) In four movements: 1. Andante. Allegro appassionato 2. Vivo 3. Adagio. 4. Moderato Orchestra: 3(picc.),3(E.H.),3,2 – 4,3,3,1 – kettledrums, triangle, side drum, cymbals, bass drum, tam-tam – xyl – harp, pf – strings. First performance in 1953 in Tbilisi. LP Melodiya D 03756-7: USSR State Orchestra, K. Ivanov (cond) CD Russian Disc RDCD 00768: Academic Symphony Orchestra, Y. Svetlanov (cond) (rec: 1992)

“Elegy”, symphonic miniature (1954)

“Sachidao”, symphonic miniature (1954) Orchestra: 2,3(E.H.),3,2 – 4,3,3,1 – kettledrums, – harp – strings.

“Shairi”, symphonic miniature (1954)

Trumpet Concerto (1954) Seven Romances after Vazha Pshavela for tenor and piano (1955) Russian text by L. Ozerov. First performance in 1957 in Tbilisi.

Seven Romances after Georgian Poets for singer and piano (1956)

Five Vocal Poems after G. Tabidze for mezzo-soprano, soprano and orchestra (1956) LP Melodiya D 011027-8: Moscow PO, K. Kondrashin (cond), M. Preobrazhenskaya (soprano), N. Postavnicheva (mezzo-soprano) LP Melodiya D 025643-6: Moscow PO, K. Kondrashin (cond), M. Preobrazhenskaya (soprano), N. Postavnicheva (mezzo-soprano) LP Melodiya C10 09847-48: Moscow PO, K. Kondrashin (cond), M. Preobrazhenskaya (soprano), N. Postavnicheva (mezzo-soprano) LP Melodiya: Georgian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond), T. Tatishvili (soprano), N. Tugushi (mezzo-soprano)

"Mtsyri", symphonic poem (1956) Based on M. Lermontov’s poem. Orchestra: 3(picc.),3(E.H.),3,2 – 4,3,3,1 – kettledrums, side drum, cymbals, bass drum, tam-tam, chime bells – xyl – cel, harp – strings. First performance in 1956 in Tbilisi. Video: USSR State Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond) LP Melodiya D 04944-5: USSR State Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond) LP Melodiya D 014283-4: USSR State Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond)

"Concertino" in C major for violin and small orchestra (1956) In three movements: 1. Allegretto 2. Andantino 3. Vivo Orchestra: 2,2,1 – strings. First performance in 1956 in Tbilisi. Video: Moscow Radio Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond), D. Oistrakh (violin) LP Melodiya D 04944-5: Moscow Radio Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond), D. Oistrakh (violin) LP Melodiya D 014283-4: Moscow Radio Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond), D. Oistrakh (violin) LP Melodiya C10 08017-18: Moscow Radio Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond), D. Oistrakh (violin)

"O Tblisi", cantata (1958)

Five Vocal Poems for mezzo-soprano, violin and piano (or orchestra) (1958) Revised version of Five Vocal Poems after G. Tabidze for mezzo-soprano, soprano and orchestra (1956). Lyrics by Galaktion Tabidze; Russian text by E. Alexandrova. 1. “Prayer” 2. “Me and the night” 3. “The city was howling like an enraged beast…” 4. “Evening” 5. “The moon over Mtatsminda” First performance in 1958 in Tbilisi.

Five Vocal Poems for mezzo-soprano, mezzo-soprano and piano (1960) Revised version of Five Vocal Poems for mezzo-soprano, violin and piano (or orchestra) (1958).

“Our Swallows” to words by I. Abashidze (1960)

“Mindia”, opera in three acts (1960-1961) Based on the Vazha Pshavela's poems. Libretto by R. Tabukashvili and O. Taktakishvili. Russian text by E. Alexandrova. First performance: 23 July 1961 in Tbilisi. Revised in 1971. LP Melodiya D 013299-302: Tblisi State Theatre Opera & Ballet Chorus and Orchestra, Dimitriady (cond), V. Chlunchadze (tenor), M. Amiranashvili (mezzo-soprano), P. Amiranasvili (baritone), T. Laperashvili (bass), I. Shushaniya (bass), G. Sagaradze LP Melodiya D 012553-6: Radio Chorus and Orchestra, Dimitriady (cond), Z. Andzhaparidze (tenor), P. Amiranashvili (baritone), O. Koznetsova (soprano), I. Shushaniya (bass) LP Melodiya C 0705-9: Radio Chorus and Orchestra, Dimitriady (cond), Z. Andzhaparidze (tenor), P. Amiranashvili (baritone), O. Koznetsova (soprano), I. Shushaniya (bass)

“Humoresque” for chamber orchestra (1961) Orchestra: 2 flutes, clarinet; strings.

“Simple Overture” in C major for small symphony orchestra (1961) Orchestra: 2,2,2,1 – 2,2,0,0 – kettledrums – strings.

Toccata for piano (1961-1962)


Seven Romances after Simon Tshikovani for soprano, baritone and piano (1962) Six romances and a duet: Nos. 1, 3 & 6 for soprano Nos. 2, 5 & 7 for baritone No. 4 for soprano and baritone.

“Kesaneh” to words by G. Leonidze (1962)

The Rock and the Stream” vocal–symphonic poem for mixed chorus and orchestra (1962) To the words by V. Pshavela. Russian translation by G. Fere. 1. The Rock and the Stream 2. High-Flood and the Struggle with Rock 3. The Stream Wins First performance in 1963 in Tbilisi.

Six Romances after Pushkin for tenor, bass and piano (1963)

“The Live Hearth”, oratorio for soprano, baritone, mixed chorus, and symphony orchestra (1964) To the words by Simon Tshikovani. Russian translation by E. Alexandrova and Khmaladze. First performance in 1965 in Moscow. LP Melodiya D 025001-2: Radio Chorus and Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond), V. Budareva (soprano), A. Kleshcheva, S. Yakovenko (baritone)

Seven romances for tenor and bass with piano accompaniment (1965) Lyrics by Alexander Pushkin.

"In Rustaveli’s Footsteps (Solemn Chants)", oratorio for bass, mixed chorus, symphony orchestra and organ (1963-1964) To the words by I. Abashidze. Russian translation by G. Andreeva and A. Mezhirov. Orchestra: 3(picc.),3(E.H.),3,3(dbsn) – 4,3,3,1 – kettledrums, side drum, cymb, bass drum, tam-tam, chime bells, bells – xyl – cel, 2 harps, pf, organ – strings. First performance in 1965 in Moscow. Movements: 1. Introduction 2. You Are Here 3. "Djvari", By the Walls of the Sacred Cross Monastery 4. "Vardzyia" 5. Palestina 6. The Native Language 7. The Exile 8. Tamara 9. Today Has Died Rustaveli LP Melodiya D 018093: Moscow Large Chorus and Large Radio SO, G. Rozhdestvensky (cond), A. Vedernikov (bass), N. Gureyeva (organ)LP Melodiya C 01315-6: Moscow Large Chorus and Loarge Radio SO, G. Rozhdestvensky (cond), A. Vedernikov (bass), N. Gureyeva (organ)LP Melodiya D 019495-6: Georgian State Chorus and Orchestra, Khurodze (cond), T. Mushkudiany (bass)

Sonata for flute and piano in C major (1963-1966) Movements: 1. Allegro cantabile 2. Aria: Moderato con moto 3. Allegro scherzando Video: Fenwick Smith (flute), Randall Hodgkinson (piano) Elena Yakovleva (flute). Nina Botvinovskaya (piano) Manuela Wiesler (flute), Roland Pontinen (piano) Orchestration for flute and small orchestra by Olivier Kaspar: Orchestre du Conservatoire à rayonnement régional de St Maur des fossés (France), Olivier Kaspar (cond), Philippe Lesgourgues (fluteà CD BIS: Manuela Wiesler (flute), Roland Pontinen (piano)

"Three Tales", operatic triptychon from three short operas (1967) Libretto by the author after the stories by M. Dzhavakhishvili (No. 1: "Three Judgements", opera in one act & No. 2: "The Soldier", opera in one act) and S. Tsenin after G. Tabidze's poetry (No. 3: "Higher the Flags", opera in three pictures with an epilogue). Russian text by I. Arakishvili (No. 1), E. Alexandrova (No. 2): 1. “Two Sentences” 2. “The Soldier” (“The Year 1905”) 3. “Banners Up!” First performance: 19 November 1967 in Tbilisi. LP Melodiya D 025643-6: Radio Chorus and Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond), No. 1: V. Makhov (tenor), L. Kazanskaya (soprano), Y. Yakushev (baritone) No. 2: S. Yakovenko (baritone), N. Postavnicheva (mezzo-soprano), V. Makohov (tenor), A. Tikhonov (bass) No. 3: V. Selivanov (baritone), Y. Yelnikov (tenor)

“The Sun has Vanished”, poem (1967) To words by G. Tabidze. Russian translation by E. Alexandrova.

"Twilight above Mtazminda", poem for tenor, men's octet, chorus and orchestra (1968) Pieces for violin and piano (1968) 1. “Melody” 2. “Rondo”

Sonata for violin and piano (1969) 1. Allegro leggiero 2. Andante 3. Allegro molto.

Poem and Allegro for cello and piano (1969) LP Melodiya D 300069-70: I. Cheisvily (cello), N. Tumanova (piano) Piano Trio (1969)

Six Children's Pieces for piano (1969) "Native Tunes", five pieces for piano (1970) Suite for piano: 1. Enguri 2. Svan Tower 3. Shairi (Limericks) 4. The Alazan Valley 5. March (Toccata)

"Nikolas Baratashvili", oratorio for tenor, men's vocal octet, chorus and symphony orchestra (1970) To lyrics by N. Baratashvili. Russian translation by G. Andreeva. Orchestra: 3(picc.),3(E.H.),3,3(dbsn) – 4,4,3,1 – kettledrums, side drum, cymb, bass drum, tam-tam, chime bells, bells – xyl – cel, harp, pf – strings. First performance in 1971 in Tbilisi. LP Melodiya CM 04357-8: Moscow PO, Radio Chorus, "Gordela" Vocal Ensemble, O. Taktakishvili (cond), Z. Andzhaparidze (tenor)

Gurian Songs, cantata after Georgian folktexts for men's vocal octet, mixed chorus and symphony orchestra (1971) Folk texts. Russian translation by G. Andreeva. Orchestra: 3(picc.),3(E.H.),3,3(dbsn) – 4,3,3,1 – kettledrums, side drum, cymb, bass drum, tam-tam, chime bells, bells – xyl – cel, harp, pf – strings. First performance in 1971 in Moscow. CD Russian Disc RDCD 00768: USSR TV & Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vocal Ensemble, Otar Taktakishvili (cond), L. Belobragina (soprano)

Three Pieces for violin and piano (1971) "Three Lives" (1971-1972) Revised in 1972. New opera No. 3: "Shikor" after M. Dshavachishvili. The second version of the “Three Tales” (1967) 1. “Two Brothers” 2. “The Fate of a Soldier” 3. “Chikori” First performance: 9 September 1972 in Moscow.

"Mengrelian Songs", suite for tenor, men's vocal octet and chamberorchestra (1972) Free arrangements to traditional words. Russian translation by G. Andreeva. Orchestra: flute, oboe, clarinet; snare drum, bells; strings. First performance in 1973 in Leningrad. LP Melodiya CM 04357-8: Radio Chorus and Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond), L. Belobragina (soprano) CD Russian Disc RDCD 00768: Leningrad Chamber Orchestra, "Rustavy" Vocal Ensemble, Otar Taktakishvili (cond), L. Gozman (tenor)

Piano Concerto No. 2 "Mountain Tunes" (1973) In two movements: 1. Andante (in F Sharp Minor) 2. Allegro alla breve (in A minor/C major) Orchestra: 3(picc.),3,3,3(dbsn) – 4,4,3,1 – kettledrums – strings. First performance in 1973 in Leningrad). LP Melodiya C10 08017-18: Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond), E. Virsaladze (piano)

"Imitation of Georgian Folk instruments", suite for piano (1973) Suite in four movements: 1. Duduki 2. Dholi 3. Panduri 4. Salamuri

"Love Songs "Lyrical Songs", suite after M. Pozchishvili for soprano, tenor, men's vocal octet and chamberorchestra (1974) Words by M. Potskhishvili and traditional. First performance in 1974 in Riga. Piano Concerto No. 3 "Youth Concerto" in F major (1974) In one movement. First performance in 1974 in Tbilisi. LP Melodiya C10 09347-48: Georgian Chamber Orchestra, O. Taktakishvili (cond), Doibzhashvili (piano)

Choreografic Suite, ballet in one act of five parts Libretto: G. Aleksidse. First performance: 1976 in Moscow.

Sonata for violin (1975) Transcription of flutesonata (1966).

Violin Concerto No. 1 in F minor (1976) In four movements: 1. Andante. Allegro moderato 2. Scherzo. Presto leggiero 3. Moderato cantabile 4. Finale. Allegro tranquillo e cantabile Video: (Movement 1 & 2) Central TV and Radio Large SO, Otar Taktakishvili (cond), Liana Isakadze (violin) (Movement 3 & 4) Central TV and Radio Large SO, Otar Taktakishvili (cond), Liana Isakadze (violin) LP Melodiya C10 10115-16: Central TV and Radio Large SO, Otar Taktakishvili (cond), Liana Isakadze (violin)

"The Abduction of the Moon", opera in three acts (1976) Based on the novel by K. Gamsakhurdia. Verses by S. Nishnianidze. Russian translation by I. Maznin. Libretto: O. Taktakischwili. First performance 25 March 1977 in The Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow; Producer B. Pokrovsky.

Overture to the opera “The Abduction of the Moon” (1976) First performance in 1981.

“Summer Lightnings Aflame”, cantata for mezzo-soprano, bass, mixed chorus, and symphony orchestra (1976) To the lyrics by I. Abashidze and S. Nishniadze. Russian translation by V. Krasnopolsky. 1. “Summer Lightnings Aflame”. Allegro moderato 2. “A Mother’s Song of Peace”. Andante moderato 3. “At the Cenotaph”. Andante con moto 4. “The Vow”. 5. “Hymn to Labour”. Allegro Orchestra: 4(picc.),3(E.H.),0,3(dbsn) – 4,4,3,1 – kettledrums, snare drum, cymb, bass drum – harp, pf – strings – jazz band – 6 trumpets (in B flat). First performance in 1976 in Moscow.

Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major (1977) In three movements: 1. Moderato 2. Andante 3. Andante Video: Eldar Issakadze (cello), Otar Taktakishvili, conductor (1977)

"To the Holy Shushanik", Georgian hymn for baritone, men's chorus and percussion instruments (1979) LP Melodiya: Academic Men's Chorus of the Estonian SSR, O. Taktakishvili (cond)

"Mususi (The Lady Killer"), comic opera in one act after M. Dshawachishvili (1977-1980) Based on M. Dzhavakhishvili's story. Verses by M. Tarkhnishvili. Russian translation by P. Gradov. Libretto: O. Taktakishvili. First performance in 1978 in Tblisi.

“Dance Suite”, three dances from the opera “Mususi” for symphony orchestra (1978) 1. Slow Dance 2. Georgian Dance 3. Fete in Kartli

“Secular Hymns” for soloists, men's chorus, kettledrums, bells and two harps (1979) Dedication to St. Shushanik. To the words by Demetre (12th century), Shota Rustaveli, Simon Chikovani and traditional. Russian translation by M. Pavlova. Dedicated to Gustav Ernesax. First performance in 1979 in Tbilisi.

"First Love, comic opera in two acts (1980) Libretto: R. Gabriadze, based on his story “The Wondrous Bird”. First performance: 30 December 1980 in Tbilisi.

Overture to the opera “First Love” (1980) Concert version for symphony orchestra.

Six Romances for mezzo-soprano with piano accompaniment to words by Alexander Pushkin (1980)

Six Children’s Pieces for piano (1980) 1. Song 2. March 3. Riddle 4. It has Stopped Raining 5. A Little Box 6. Waltz

Five Lullabies for women's chorus a capella to folk words (1980) First performance in 1980 in Tbilisi.

“Festivities in Georgia”, dance suite for symphony orchestra (1980) 1. Allegro marciale 2. Marciale maestoso First performance in 1980 in Moscow.

“Orchestral Miniatures” for symphony orchestra (1980) 1. Larghetto 2. Intermezzo 3. March 4. Mountaineers’ Dance

“Kartalin Tunes”, choral cycle for women's chorus a’capella to folk words (1982)

Piano Concerto No. 4 in D minor for piano and chamberorchestra (1983) In four movements: 1. Allegro non troppo 2. Allegro vivo 3. Andante con moto 4. Allegro Eight Romances on text by Nikoloz Baratashvili (1984)

“With Tsereteli's Lyre”, oratorio for soloists, mixed chorus, piano, flute, harp, and kettledrums (1984) To the words by A. Tsere.

String Quartet in C minor (1983-1985) Sonata for piano (1985)

Quintet for piano and string quartet (1986) Violin Concerto No. 2 for violin and chamberorchestra (1986) Movements: 1. Allegro moderato 2. Andante 3. Finale. Allegro molto Video: Georgia Chamber Orchestra, L. Issakadze (conductor & violin) CD Orfeo C 304 921 A: Georgia Chamber Orchestra, L. Issakadze (conductor & violin)

"Twenty-Three Water-Colours” for piano (1987)

“Humoresque” for two pianos (1987) LP Melodiya C10 14241-2: M. Paniashvili and M. Altunashvili (piano)

Chamber Oratorio for men's chorus, soloists, piano, organ, and trumpet (1987) Words by Queen Tamara, I. Chavchavadze, A. Kalandadze.

Various works: Chamber music Music to Films Music to the Play "Vassa Shelesnova" after Gorki Music to the Play "King Oedipus" after Sophocles Music to the Play "Wintertale" after Shakespeare Orchestral works Romances Suites for piano Works for chorus

External links[edit]