Born on July
29 in Armavir, Russia
prestigious Baku Conservatoire Musical School for gifted
Agaparon Sultanovich Orbelian arrested and executed during the
Stalin’s political repressions.
Mikhailovna Atarbekova is arrested and sentenced to serve five
years in a corrective labor camp. Konstantin and his older
brother Harry become social outcasts, the so-called “children
of the enemies of the people”.
expelled from the Musical School and becomes a musical
accompanist to gymnasts in a sporting society. Harry works as
Orbelian drafted into the Soviet Army.
World War II
works as a pianist and accordionist in a flying school jazz
“discovered” by the Armenian jazz musicians during the band’s
tour in Yerevan, Armenia. Practically without any audition, he
is invited to play in the Armenian State Pop Orchestra,
conducted by Artemy Aivazyan,
makes his first steps as a composer. He writes arrangements
for the Armenian folk songs and composes his own songs, first
of which is “The Lullaby”. Konstantin becomes known as one of
the best jazz musicians in the country.
declines an invitation to play in the famous Leonid Utesov’s
Jazz Band to become a conductor in the Armenian State Pop
Orchestra. He is introduced to Aram Khachaturian, whom he
adores as a composer. He befriends the young and popular
Armenian composers - Alexander Arutyunyan, Arno Babajanian,
and Edward Mirzoyan.
leaves the Orchestra and enrolls into the Musical College,
class of Edward Mirzoyan. He is also working at the Yerevan
Opera and Ballet Theater. There he creates three ballet
miniatures: “Flying”, “The Monument”, and “We are for Peace”.
The miniatures become very popular and are performed at the
Opera and Ballet Theater for several years in a row.
graduates from the Musical College and is admitted to the
Conservatory. He also organizes an instrumental quintet.
Orbelian and Arno Babajanian write the soundtrack for the
movie “The Heart Sings”. The songs become hits around the
momentous year in Orbelian’s life. He finishes his String
Quartet. The String Quartet is performed in Moscow by the
musicians of the Komitas Quartet during the Armenian
Literature Festival and is recognized as one of the greatest
achievements of the Armenian chamber music. Konstantin
Orbelian receives the Grand Prix and the gold medal for the
String Quartet at the 6th International Festival of Youth and
Students in Moscow.
invited to lead the Armenian State Pop Orchestra. He renews
orchestra’s style and invites new musicians. In just four
months, the Orchestra prepares a program that features new
compositions by Arno Babajanian and Alexander Arutyunyan, as
well as Orbelian’s own new creations “Dilijan” and “Concert
Jazz-March”. These two compositions become the Orchestra’s
trade mark and are always played at the beginning and at the
end of each concert. Konstantin also makes jazz arrangements
for Khachaturian’s song “Garun Yerevan” (“Spring Yerevan”) and
his famous “Saber Dance” from the “Gayane” ballet. The new
program has triumphal performances in Yerevan, Moscow,
Tbilisi, and Baku.
joins the USSR Union of Composers.
finds out that his older brother, Harry, who was considered
killed during World War II, is alive and lives in the United
States with his family.
takes a break from the Orchestra to finish his studies at the
Conservatory. He writes the First Symphony.
graduates from the Yerevan Conservatory and returns to the Pop
Symphony is recorded and performed in Moscow by the State
Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yuri Aranovich. The Symphony
also receives the highest award at the All-Union Festival
Competition of the Young Composers in Moscow. The
symphony is later performed in many countries around the
State Pop Orchestra’s first concert overseas. The Orchestra
performs in Czechoslovakia, as part of the Days of the
Soviet Union in Czechoslovakia festival.
Poland tour. Orbelian writes the “Polyphonic Prelude”. The new
composition created in the new wave style, is included
in repertoires of various Big Bands, including the famous
Czech jazz band conducted by Karel Vlach.
writes the Celebration Overture for the Symphonic
that later receives an award at he All-Union Competition of
writes the Immortality ballet, dedicated to the victims of
the World War II. The ballet is performed at the Spendiarov
Opera and Ballet Theater in Yerevan.
gains enormous popularity in the USSR and abroad. It performs
on the best stages of the world.
sensational 6-hour performance in the Federal Republic of
Germany during the Days of the Soviet Culture.
State Pop Orchestra’s United States tour. The Orchestra is the
first Soviet jazz band to visit the United States. The
musicians give 25 performances in major US cities: Los
Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Providence,
Washington, D.C., concluding the tour in New York’s Lincoln
Center. Orbelian’s Orchestra receives great reviews and is
compared to the bands of Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Count
Basie, and to the Thad Jones and Mel Lewis orchestra. The
United Nations holds a reception for the Soviet musicians.
production of the Immortality ballet in Yerevan,
Leningrad and Moscow. Ballet’s cast and creator are awarded
the First Prize at the All-Union Competition of Musical
State Pop Orchestra’s Nice – Marseille – Lyon tour, concluding
in Paris with 11 concerts in Théâtre des Champs-Elysées and
the La Plielle theater.
Orchestra wins the Grand Prix at the Belgrade International
Jazz Festival competing with the Jazz Band of Freddy Hubbard
and George Duke.
ballet production by the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater.
Orbelian awarded the People’s Artist of the USSR, the highest
Soviet award that honored achievements in arts.
in Moscow. Orbelian writes his Olympic Moscow piece.
experimenting with various jazz styles. Writing the Sunrise
on Sevan and Come to Zangezur, two compositions in Armenian
writes The Dreams in the impressionist-jazz style and the
Bebop Exercises in Vocalization, also known as
Variation for Voice and Orchestra.
experiments continue with the Jet Engine piece, written in
the American hot jazz style.
50th Anniversary celebration. Orbelian recreates from memory
and adds to the Orchestra’s repertoire Artemy Aivazyan’s
Armenian Rhapsody, the score for which was lost. Orbelian
himself performed Arno Babajanian’s famous Nocturne, which
was wonderfully received by the audience.
In the 1970’s-80’s.
addition to the United States and almost all of the European
countries, the musicians tour Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait,
Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Egypt, India, Kenya and
Orbelian moves to San Francisco, California. This decision is
motivated by the difficult political and economical situation
in Armenia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Late 1990s – Present
Orbelian lives in Los Angeles, California. He continues to
write music and release albums. To view his complete US
discography, please visit the Music section of the website.