Djivan Gasparyan is unquestionably one of Armenia's greatest musicians, a living legend. He is the foremost virtuoso of the duduk, an ancient oboe-like instrument that is made of apricot wood and capable of sustaining drone notes for long periods of time. It is said that no other instrument is able to convey the emotions of the Armenian people as well as the duduk. In the hands of the master musician the duduk becomes the vehicle for haunting and meditative music that eloquently evokes the Armenian landscape and its people.
Armenia's most famous folk musician was born in 1928 in Solag, a village near the Armenian capital Yerevan. He began to play the duduk at the age of 6, gaining much of his knowledge by listening to the great masters. He won Gold Medals in four worldwide competitions organised by UNESCO, in which he competed in 1959, 1962, 1973 and 1980. In 1973 he had the unique distinction of being the only musician to be conferred the honorary title of People's Artist of Armenia. A professor at the Yerevan Conservatory, he has prepared over 70 duduk musicians for professional performance. He greatly enjoys teaching and it brings him joy to know that, through his efforts, the tradition of duduk playing will not be lost.
Gasparyan has toured Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In the United States he has performed extensively in New York and Los Angeles, where he has appeared with the LA Philharmonic Orchestra). His 1989 recording of Armenian folk songs and ballads -- entitled "I Will Not Be Sad In This World," dedicated to the victims of the Armenian earthquake -- received worldwide recognition. Gasparyan has collaborated with Lionel Ritchie and Peter Gabriel and recorded soundtracks for "The Russia House' and 'The Crow' and Atom Egoyan's film 'Calendar', as well as for the American Hungarian television co-production "Storm and Sorrow."
Djivan Gasparyan's duduk repertoire is primarily comprised of traditional Armenian folk songs. He is also an accomplished singer in the Armenian folk tradition, and a composer; in addition to his original compositions and arrangements of traditional songs, he has written love songs based on the poetry of Vahan Derian.
On tour he is accompanied by three duduk players, offering audiences the full range of the duduk (soprano, tenor, baritone and bass) and also a dhol (drum). In addition he plays the flute and the zoorna and sings.
Real World Records released Black Rock, Gasparyan's subtle, atmospheric collaboration with Canadian guitarist/composer/producer Michael Brook in 1998, when it garnered the Armenian Music Association's Best Album award. In 2002, Djivan Gasparyan was honored as Artist of the Year at Europe's annual WOMEX music conference.