These days, it is almost impossible to escape the vise-like grip of endless, pointless news about a certain person of Armenian descent whose last name begins with the letter K. Just the thought of said person conjures bile in my throat and commands eye-rolling of the sort your mother warned you about.
Do you feel the same way, chèr reader? Classical music has the balm your soul needs. Yes indeed, classical music has its very own Armenian (though Soviet-born, raised and devoted) whose last name begins with the letter K, and I daresay you will not lose precious brain cells by paying him mind. I am pleased to make your acquaintance with Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978) and his catchy, whirling “Waltz“, which is the first movement from Masquerade Suite. Khachaturian composed the Suite as incidental music for the play Masquerade, written by 18th-century Russian writer Mikhail Lermontov (who at the tender age of 26 met his demise in a duel).
I never tire of listening to this piece. The color is so rich that it’s hard to imagine that Khachaturian initially had great difficulty writing it. Two images come to mind when I’m listening to it: first, Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner waltzing in The King and I (I was fascinated by her satin-drenched hoopskirted ballgown as a child) and second, the Haunted Mansion at that fun little theme park in Orlando. You know those dancing ghosts are Khachaturian fans! The three-quarter meter is fun to conduct (which is something I do privately because I am not Leonard Bernstein) and when the secondary theme begins you can sit down and enjoy a vodka cocktail before the waltz resumes. Right around the three-and-a-half-minute mark, there is the slightest tenuto, which makes you feel almost as though you are at the edge of a waltzy cliff…and then you have the most glorious 40-second fall and the cymbals are your safety net.
So on this Day of Days (National Sibling Day, yippee!) I challenge you, readers and revelers, not to a duel (poor Lermontov!) but to a listen or two or three to this wonderful composition. I’d love to hear about the imagery it conjures up for you.