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Richard Yardumian (Composer)

Born: April 5, 1917 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: August 15, 1985 - Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, USA

Richard Yardumian is an American composer of Armenian parents. He was not a child prodigy nor did he even exhibit any particular interest in music until he began the study of piano and music theory in his twenties. He studied harmony with WilIiam Happich, counterpoint with H. Alexander Matthews, and piano with George Boyle from 1939 to 1941. His work attracted the attention of José Iturbi in the 1930's and beginning in 1944, that of Eugene Ormandy, who championed it and performed and even recorded many of his pieces with the prestigious Philadelphia Orchestra. Later Yardumian attended Pierre Monteux's conducting school in Hancock, Maine (summer, 1947), received additional musical training from Thomson in New York between the years 1952 and 1954.

Richard Yardumian's compositions feature considerable religious and mystical infiltration and reflect the spirit of Armenian folk songs and religious melodies. His works include at least two symphonies, a violin concerto, Armenian Suite, Chorale Prelude, and a larger choral work entitled Come, Creator Spirit. His music is twelve-tone in nature, but not severely dissonant or harsh, relying instead on inspirational themes. He is quoted as saying, "I hold the strong belief that the sooner the churches take up again the promotion and encouragement of the arts, the sooner might be born - centuries from now - another Johann Sebastian Bach!" A number of his works were first performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra.


Armenian Suite (1937-1954; Philadelphia, March 5, 1954); Symphonic Suite (1939); 3 Pictographs of an Ancient Kingdom (1941); Desolate City (1943-44; Philadelphia, April 6, 1945); Violin Concerto (1949; Philadelphia, March 30, 1950; rev. 1960); 2 symphonies.: No. 1 (1950; rev., Philadelphia, December 1, 1961) and No. 2, Psalms, for Mezzo-soprano or Baritone and Orchestyra (1947-1964; Philadelphia, November 13, 1964); Epigram: William M. Kincaid for Flute and Strings (1951; also for Flute and String Quartet); Passacaglia, Recitatives and Fugue, piano concerto (1957; Philadelphia, January 3, 1958); Veni sancte Spiritus, chorale prelude for Chamber Orchestra (1958); Num komm der heiden Heiland, chorale prelude (1978; arranged from an organ piece).

Flute Quintet (1951; arranged for Flute and Strings); Cantus animae et cordis for String Quartet (1955;

arranged for Strings, 1955).

Keyboard: Piano:
3 Preludes: Wind (1938), Sea (1936), and Sky (1944; orchestrated 1945); Dance (1942); Chromatic Sonata (1946); Prelude and Chorale (1946); various organ pieces.

Create in Me a Clean Heart for Mezzo-soprano or Baritone and Chorus (1962); Magnificat for Women's Voices (1965); Come Creator Spirit, mass for Mezzo-soprano or Baritone, Chorus, Congregation, and' Orchestra or Organ (1965-1966; N.Y., March 31, 1967); The Story of Abraham, oratorio for Soloists, Chorus, Orchestra and Film (1968-1971; revised 1973); Narek: Der Asdvadz for Mezzo-soprano, Horn, and Harp (1983); Hrashapar for Chorus, Organ, and Orchestra (1984); about 100 chorales for Chorus (1944-1985).


Source: Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); All Music Guide Website (Author: Michael Morrison)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2006)

Arrangements of J.S. Bach's Works


Chorale Melody


Nun komm der heiden Heiland, Arrangement of Chorale Prelude (J. S. Bach?) for Orchestra

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland


Jesu, meine Freude, Nun komm der heiden Heiland, 2 Chorale Preludes for Orchestra [arreangements of organ works]

Jesu, meine Freude


Links to other Sites

Richard Yardumian - Biography (AMG)

Richard Yardumian (



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