08 April 2003, 03:20

Balanchivadze, Meliton Antonovich

Georgian composer and music public figure, one of the creators of Georgian professional music.

Born December 24, 1862 (January 5, 1863 as of Gregorian calendar), in the village of Banodja, near Kutais (Kutaisi), in a family of a clergyman. Grew in the environment of intensive domestic music practice; sang in church choirs.

Received his general education in Kutais religious college and a classic gymnasium.

Balanchivadze's first serious music practice took place around 1877-1879, when he took lessons from Aushev, a choir conductor. In 1880, seventeen-year-old Balanchivadze joined Tiflis Opera Theater Choir and soon started to perform solo parts in it. In 1882, started his music public activities as a Georgian folkloric songs' enthusiast and collector. He organized a number of choir collectives and gave concerts in multiple cities of Georgia. Balanchivadze's first composing attempts ? romances When I Look at You, I Strive to You Forever, and Lullaby instantly brought him wide popularity. In 1889, entered Petersburg Conservatoire, Vocal Department, and a year later, following the advice from the then director of the Conservatoire, A. Rubinstein, transferred to Composer Department where he learned from N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov and took harmony lessons from Y.I. Iogansen. Here he started working at the opera Tamar Tsbieri (Tamara the Deceitful), first act of which was performed in late 1897. Living in Russia till 1917, the composer arduously popularized Georgian music, performed with his own choir collectives in many cities of central Russia, the Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic, familiarizing the Russian society with the pearls of the Georgian folk arts. In 1917, Balanchivadze returned to Georgia. In 1918, he founded a music school in Kutaisi; in 1921-1924, was the head of the music department of Georgian SSR (Soviet Socialist Republic) People's Education Commissariat. In 1926, finished his opera Tamar Tsbieri (titled Daredjan Tsbieri in the second edition) and in 1927 wrote a cantata Slava ZAGES (Vive the Transcaucasian Hydroelectric Plant).

Balanchivadze deceased in Kutaisi on November 21, 1937.

Balanchivadze's major composition is the opera Daredjan Tsbieri. It is hard to overestimate the historic value of this composition, conceived and partially written yet in late 19th century when the Georgian music art was still in its infancy. The opera has a historic plotline. Two dramaturgic lines masterly intertwine in it: a patriotic one (its characters are Gocha, Niro, and Tsika) and a psychological one (connected with the vicissitudes of the depraved czarina Daredjan). As for its music, the opera is kept in a lyric, chamber manner though, only getting a dramatic shadow at times.

Daredjan Tsbieri's dramaturgy is based on a system of music pieces alternating according to a contrast principle. The strong features of Daredjan Tsbieri's music are its expressive national character, beauty, poetic cordiality, melodic expression, and genuine vocality.

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