Lesson 5 - Texture

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Grant Llewellyn, Music Director







Our Education Concert is created in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and is made possible by a generous grant-in-aid from the State of North Carolina, the Honorable Roy Cooper, Governor; the Honorable Susi H. Hamilton, Secretary for Natural and Cultural Resources. We express our gratitude to our Boards of Trustees: The Symphony’s mission to achieve the highest level of artistic quality and performance standards, and embrace the dual legacies of statewide service and music education, is led by the North Carolina Symphony Society, Inc., and the Symphony’s endowed funds are held by the North Carolina Symphony Foundation, Inc.




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Aram Khachaturian

Born June 6, 1903, Tbilisi, Georgia Died May 1, 1978, Moscow, Russia

Biography Aram Khachaturian was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. His works are widely performed on renowned theater stages, concert platforms, and even in the media on the radio, television, and cinema. He was born in Kodzhori (modern day Tbilisi) to an Armenian family of bookbinders. At that time in Tbilisi, there was a Russian Musical Society (RMC), a music school, and an Italian Opera Theatre. These were often visited by celebrated cultural representatives such as Fyodor Shalyapin, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Konstantin Igumnov. Despite his early musical interest, he did not study music until he was 19. In 1922, after arriving in Moscow, he enrolled in a cello class at Gnesin Music School and received a degree in biology from the Department of Physics and Mathematics at Moscow State University. His musical abilities grew quickly, and he soon became one of the best students. He was granted an opportunity to perform in the Small and Grand Halls of the Moscow Conservatory. In 1925, his career as a composer began when his school opened a composition class. Shortly thereafter, he was admitted into the Moscow National Conservatory. Although Khachaturian followed the musical traditions of Russia in his compositions, he also broadly used Armenian folk music. In his homeland of Armenia, he is still highly regarded and is considered a “national treasure.”



Featured Work

Waltz from Masquerade Suite

Fun Facts Khachaturian thought of becoming a doctor or engineer before he became a professional musician. Khachaturian “Russianized” his name to Khachaturov for 18 years. Khachaturian was one of the few composers whose first instrument was the tuba.

KHACHATURIAN’S LIFE • Known as a composer of symphonies, concertos, ballets, symphonic suites, and film music. • Known as a cellist. • Greatly influenced by his Armenian upbringing. • Enjoyed nationalistic genres including folk song. • Studied at Moscow State University, Gnesin Music School, and the Moscow Conservatory • Composed his first work at 30 years old in 1933. • Wrote music for theater — Baghdasar Akhpar (1927), Oriental Dentist (1928), Debt of Honor (1931), Masquerade (1941), Macbeth (1955), King Lear (1958), etc. • Wrote music for film — Pepo (1935), Zangezur (1938), The Garden (1939), Battle of Staligrad (1949), Othello (1956), Combat (1957), etc. • Taught at a Mexican Conservatory.



Featured Work: Waltz from Masquerade Suite

Masquerade is a play by Russian poet and playwright Mikhail Lermontov. It premiered June 21, 1941, in the Vakhtangov Theatre in Moscow, the day before the German Invasion. The 1956 production of the show ran for 73 performances. Like many of Khachaturian’s other works, the Masquerade Suite is known for its colorful orchestration, singing melodic lines, and integral rhythmic drive. Khachaturian’s five-movement arrangement demonstrates an ironic contrast to the grimness of the music he originally wrote for the play. Brief Plot Synopsis:

Masquerade tells the tragic story of a woman who is killed by her husband over a false accusation of adultery. Beginning at the grand masquerade ball, Baroness Schtral bestows the prince, with whom she is secretly in love, a bracelet as a token of her affection. Disguised by her mask, the prince is unaware of who she is. He asks his acquaintance, Arbenin, to search for her. However, Arbenin notices that his own wife, Nina, is missing her bracelet, suspiciously resembling the one the Prince carries. Nina, convincing her husband that she must have lost it at the masquerade, searches the Baroness’ home. She accidentally happens upon the prince, who also seems to think that she is his mystery woman. Rumors quickly spread and Arbenin becomes enraged, and begins plotting his revenge on his wife. The Baroness, having heard the rumors, rushes to confess to the prince that it was she who had given him the bracelet. At the next ball, the prince returns the bracelet to Nina and warns her of her husband’s animosity. Later that night Nina falls gravely ill, as Arbenin poisoned her ice cream. As a final plea, Nina assures her husband that she is innocent and that it had all been a big misunderstanding, but it is too late, and she dies. It is not long thereafter that Arbenin realizes the extent of his mistake; the prince confirms Nina’s dying words that there was no affair. As proof, he gives Arbenin a letter from the Baroness.

CLASSROOM ACTIVITY: Spot the Difference North Carolina Essential Standards in Music:

4.MR.1.1 - Illustrate perceptual skills by moving to, answering questions about, and describing aural examples of music of various styles and cultures.

North Carolina Essential Standards in Dance:

4.DM.1.1 - Illustrate safe movement choices through the use of dance technique, including balance, rotation, elevation, and landing in dance movement.

Objectives: Students will identify different musical ideas or themes through movement. Students will describe changes in texture using the musical vocabulary “thick” and “thin.” Students will infer meaning based on a composer’s musical choices.

Materials: Computer, Waltz Themes slide (provided below), North Carolina Symphony Education video, scarves and/or blue ribbon (optional).


1. Review the four instrument families and their sounds with this video.

2. Open the Waltz Themes slide. Click on each picture in the slide to play a musical theme from the Waltz. 3. Play each clip again, and this time ask students to name the instrument families they hear in each. 4. Now introduce different body movements for each theme. Here are some suggestions:

MOUSE: Scurry around the room sneakily.

TREE: Sway your hands above your heads; use scarves if desired!

WATER: Swirl your hands in circular patterns; use blue ribbon if desired!

CAROUSEL: Skip in a circle Play the entire North Carolina Symphony Education video (Texture) and have students change their movements as the different themes are heard.



5. Students may have noticed that each theme was heard more than once. Listen to the piece again, and this time students will play detective! Ask them to choose one particular theme and spot how the theme changes when it repeats. (HINT: It has to do with the instrument families that are playing!) 6. Ask students these guiding questions:

What instruments or instrument families do you hear the first time your theme is played?

What instruments or instrument families do you hear the second time your theme is played?

How would you describe the way the texture changes? Did it become “thicker” or “thinner”?

Why do you think Khachaturian changed the music in this way?

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