Jivan Gasparyan, one of Armenia’s most celebrated musicians and composers, has passed away at the age of 92.
Eurovision fans will recognise him from the country’s Eurovision 2010 performance, where he accompanied Eva Rivas on “Apricot Stone”. Jivan delivered the very first notes of the song all on his own, setting the scene beautifully with his control and command of the duduk — an ancient double-reed woodwind instrument made of apricot wood.
At age 82, he was the oldest-ever person to feature in a performance at the Eurovision Song Contest at the time.
Writing on social media, his grandson said: “The world suffered an unimaginable loss this night. It is with deep sorrow I inform you about this huge loss. Rest in peace and may the Lord keep your soul in lights.”
Jivan Gasparyan was born in Solak, Armenia and started to play the duduk when he was six years old.
In 1948, he became a soloist in the Armenian Song and Dance Popular Ensemble and the Yerevan Philharmonic Orchestra. He toured the world several times with a small ensemble playing Armenian folk music — helping members of the Armenian diaspora connect with their motherland, while also introducing foreigners to Armenia’s rich sounds.
He won four medals in UNESCO worldwide competitions. In 1973, he was awarded the honorary title People’s Artist of Armenia. In 2002, he received the WOMEX (World Music Expo) Lifetime Achievement Award.
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Many people have encountered his music without knowing it, as he composed for several Hollywood soundtracks — including those for The Siege and Gladiator. In 2006, he was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album.
He was in-demand. Throughout his career, he collaborated with big-time artists, including Sting, Peter Gabriel, Michael Brook, Brian May, and Lionel Richie.
Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fans.