The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted to upholding Armenian heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs. Each year, AGBU is committed to making a difference in the lives of 500,000 people across Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenian diaspora. Through the vision of its leaders and the generous support […]
Promoting culture and the arts has been the cornerstone of AGBU’s programming efforts for over a century. In 2012, AGBU established the Performing Arts Department (PAD) to directly oversee this dimension of its efforts. Since its establishment, PAD has connected young Armenian artists worldwide and introduced Armenian art to diverse audiences. It has also organized […]
The AGBU Performing Arts Department (PAD) is dedicated to connecting young Armenian artists with their musical and artistic heritage, creating educational and performance opportunities for the community’s emerging and established artists and providing the international community with access to a talented pool of top performers. Our flagship programs create opportunities and recognition for emerging and established artists worldwide and include the Musical Armenia Program, the Sayat Nova International Composition Competition, the AGBU Performing Artists in Concert and the Jazz Concert Series.
Violinist Anahid Ajemian was an ardent champion of new music and a lifelong supporter of contemporary classical music over the course of her successful career. Born in Manhattan on January 26, 1924 to Armenian immigrants, Leon Ajemian, a physician, and Siroun Erganian, a pianist, Ajemian began her music studies early at the Institute of Musical Art, which later merged with the Julliard School.
In 1946, while still a student of Edouard Dethier at the Juilliard Graduate School of Music, she won the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation Award and made her debut at Town Hall and received the Distinguished Achievement Medal from Mademoiselle magazine as the Young Woman of the Year in Music. Among the many honors that followed, the Order of St. James appointed her a Knight of Malta in 1984.
With her sister Maro, a pianist, Ajemian performed in Europe, Canada and throughout the United Stares with a wide repertoire, including works written for them by distinguished composers as John Cage, Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, Alan Hovhaness, Ernst Krenek, Wallingford Riegger, Carlos Surinach and Ben Weber, among many others. Together and separately, the Ajemians recorded extensively for Columbia, RCA Victor, MGM and Composers Records Inc. and were the first musicians to receive the Laurel Leaf Award of the Composers Alliance for Distinguished Service to American Music.
Ajemian and her sister were known for their interpretations of the standard classical repertoire. A unique feature of the many television programs they taped for NBC’s Recital Hall and the National Educational Television Network was their series of programs comprising the complete cycle of all ten Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano.
In the 1940s, Ajemian co-founded the New York City-based organization Friends of Armenian Music Committee, which helped to launch the career of fellow Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness through a series of concerts in New York.
In 1957, along with her husband, famed jazz producer George Avakian, she inaugurated Music for Moderns, a critically acclaimed contemporary concert series at Town Hall.
In the mid-sixties, Ajemian and her fellow violinist Matthew Raimondi founded the Composers String Quartet, which quickly earned an international reputation and toured in more than 26 countries around the world. The Quartet’s 1970 recording of Elliott Carter’s First and Second Quartets received a Grammy nomination, among many other accolades. For many years, Ajemian was a long-time member of the Columbia University music faculty and served as a judge for several music organizations, including the annual Naumburg Foundation Awards.
She passed away on June 13, 2016 in Manhattan.
CONNECT WITH AN ARTIST - DIRECTORY
The AGBU Performing Arts Department (PAD) is dedicated to connecting Armenian artists with their musical and artistic heritage, creating educational and performance opportunities for the community’s emerging and established Armenian artists and providing the international community with access to a talented pool of top performers. Check out our artist directory to browse by region, discipline and more.