Raffi Besalyan

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Raffi Besalyan

(Japanese):ラフィ ベサリアン) (Russian: Раффи Бесалян)

(Armenian: Րաֆֆի Բեսալյան)
Background information
BornYerevan, Armenia
Occupation(s)Concert pianist

Raffi Besalyan (Armenian: Րաֆֆի Բէսալյան, born in Yerevan) is an Armenian pianist and professor of piano performance at Georgia State University. He was formerly a faculty member of Rowan University in New Jersey and University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. Besalyan studied at the Tchaikovsky Special Music School for Gifted Children in Yerevan, and received Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from Yerevan State Musical Conservatory. He received an additional master's degree from Rowan University, and studied at the Manhattan School of Music with legendary American pianist Byron Janis and Sara Davis Buechner.[1]

Besalyan has won top prizes in several national and international competitions. Among them are MTNA National Competition, Josef Hofmann International Piano Competition, Frinna Awerbuch International Competition, and Artists International Competition in New York.

Besalyan made his New York Recital Debut in Carnegie Hall in 2003 to high critical acclaim. He regularly performs throughout North America, Europe, Russia and Asia. His performances have taken him to a number of prestigious venues, including Carnegie and Merkin Hall (New York City), the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Orchestra Hall (Chicago), Atlanta Symphony Hall, Moscow Conservatory's Rachmaninoff Hall and Maly Zal (Russia), and Izumi and Phoenix Hall in Japan.[2] Besalyan tours Japan on a yearly basis for adjudication (PTNA, Osaka International Music Competition),[3] master classes, and concerts. He is represented in Japan by Tokyo IMC,[4] MAS management,[5] and is a Guest Artist/Teacher of The Takatsuki Music Teacher's Association of Osaka[6] and Yamaha.[7]

Concert reviews[edit]

"Armenian-born pianist Besalyan possesses truly lucid and beautiful sound that reminds you of perfectly matched pearls. It was in the Rachmaninoff group in the first half, where the pianist displayed this quality with tremendous conviction. From the penetrating chords and piercing harmonies in the G minor Prelude Op.23 No.5, the beautiful melody leafed out and floated in the air, pouring out deeply personal inconsolable feelings. The depth of the melody in the bass of the G sharp minor Prelude Op.32 No.12 was admirably contrasted with the brilliance of the arpeggios in the higher register. The rampant image of Mephisto roaming at will appeared from Besalyan’s tenacious and unyielding chords and octaves, and his capricious, and at times, leisurely changes of the mood in Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz. One could even hear the high-pitched satanic laughter. The audience was dazzled and fully captivated by Besalyan’s bell-like tone in the music by Armenian composers Komitas and Baghdassarian, which were performed with magnificent imagination and splendid colorful changes of tonality. Earl Wild arrangements of Gershwin Songs were snappy and tasteful. In Besalyan’s rendition of Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata the “violence” and the “cool‐headedness” were brought out with much power and set apart vividly from Prokofiev’s hollow and distorted melodies. I must say, that Besalyan is a true heir of the mainstream of the Russian Pianism, like Horowitz." (Izumi Hall, April 13, 2008)

Senshi Yokohara

Chopin Magazine July 2008[8]

“Standing ovation and cries of “Bravo” and “Encore” went to pianist Raffi Besalyan... mesmerized the audience with his gracious, delicate yet powerful presentation of Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No.3.” Armenian Reporter International, New York City [9]

“The flow of Baghdassarian's Prelude instantly changed the color and the air of Izumi Hall. The entire hall was devoured by Besalyan’s glorious touch and crystalline sound...Besalyan was not just playing the piano, he was creating wonderful art, and treated the piano with his love for the music. ” Sotokuan Press, Osaka, Japan[8]

"I attended the piano recital of Armenian-born pianist Raffi Besalyan in Clintonville on April 16. What a splendid interpretation of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff – I was totally mesmerized by Mr. Besalyan’s dynamic performance. The rest of his repertoire, Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz, Chopin’s Etudes and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue were played with extreme perfection, Mr. Besalyan really let “the piano speak”. Tribune Gazette, WI[10]

"The maniacal Mephisto Waltz # 1 by Liszt closed the program. Its technical difficulties were negotiated with aplomb, but what a jaw-dropper! Face it, the piece is mostly empty bombast, but it is so much fun, and it displays a pianist’s exceptional skills. Raffi Besalyan has a surfeit of them, stamina and strength foremost in this opus." Josiah Tazellar for Detroit Performs [11]

"The second half of the program began with Besalyan’s account of three Chopin Etudes Op.25-the famous “Butterfly”, the “Octave” Etude and the “Ocean”. Besalyan's Chopin had a solid core, it sang with a rich juicy tone. Here again, his playing was dynamic, the music came alive throbbing with excitement. These are perhaps some of Besalyan's best qualities." Phoenix Hall, Osaka, Japan. Web Music Reviews


In 2012 Besalyan established himself as an award-winning recording artist, receiving international accolades for his album “Dance, Drama, Decadence[12] (IMC Music, Japan). The album received the prestigious Jun-Tokusen Award from The Record Geijutsu, Japan’s leading classical music magazine, and was chosen as the “Classical Album of the Month” by Mainichi Shinbun, one of Japan's largest newspapers. “Dance, Drama, Decadence” was selected as the “Best New Release of the Month” by Tokyo FM, a prominent radio channel, where the CD premiered in its entirety. In addition, Ongaku no Tomo of Japan recommended and archived the CD as a study reference for music students and professors alike.[10]

Fanfare Magazine featured Besalyan in an extensive interview followed by rave reviews of the album, and another glowing review appeared in American Record Guide. Besalyan was also interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio's Norman Gilliland on The Midday, and Dance, Drama, Decadence was aired on WPR (Madison, WI) and KHPR (Honolulu, HI).

The album features virtuoso works by Rachmaninoff, Liszt, and Ravel and premiere recordings of colorful folkloristic pieces by Armenian composers Komitas and Baghdassarian. Besalyan is also featured on “Bach-Busoni Edition, Vol.I” for Koch International Classics.

Besalyan's first critically acclaimed recording of solo works by S. Rachmaninoff and A. Babajanian for the GRAMMY® Award-Winning record label Sono Luminus entitled "The Return"[13] was released in March 2015, and is distributed by Naxos.[14] “The Return” has been aired on several radio stations across the U.S. and Canada, such as the NPR, WGBH Boston, WRUV Vermont, the SiriusXM Washington D.C., Wisconsin Public Radio, The King FM Seattle, WFMT Chicago, The Grand FM Ontario and CBC Public Radio. WQXR, New York's premiere classical radio station featured the album as the New and Noteworthy Release of September 2015.


  1. ^ "https://www.raffibesalyan.com: Biography> overview", retrieved 2007-06-09.
  2. ^ "Calendar | Raffi Besalyan | Pianist". Raffibesalyan.com. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  3. ^ "OSAKA International Music Competition". Osakaimc.com. 2014-01-15. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  4. ^ "Tokyo IMC: Japan> overview Archived 2007-05-28 at the Wayback Machine", retrieved 2007-06-09.
  5. ^ "MAS Management: Japan> overview", retrieved 2007-06-09.
  6. ^ "TMTA Osaka (takaon): Japan> overview", retrieved 2007-06-09.
  7. ^ "Yamaha Music Japan: Concert/Master classes> overview", retrieved 2007-06-09.
  8. ^ a b "https://www.raffibesalyan.com: Reviews Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine", retrieved 2009-05-02.
  9. ^ "Armenian Reporter, The: Pianist wows audience in performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano concerto> overview", retrieved 2007-06-09.
  10. ^ a b "Press | Raffi Besalyan | Pianist". Raffibesalyanpianist.com. Archived from the original on 2017-09-22. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  11. ^ http://www.detroitperforms.org
  12. ^ "Dance, Drama, Decadence by Raffi Besalyan on Apple Music". Itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  13. ^ "The Return by Raffi Besalyan on Apple Music". Itunes.apple.com. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  14. ^ "Piano Recital: Besalyan, Raffi - RACHMANINOV, S. / BABADJANIAN, A.H. (The Return) - DSL-92187". Naxos.com. 2012-02-17. Retrieved 2017-11-15.

External links[edit]