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 world-wide competitions organised by UNESCO in which he competed (1959, 1962, 1973 and 1980). He has the unique distinction of being the only musician to be given the honorary title of People's Artist of Armenia in 1973. 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 US he has performed extensively in New York and Los Angeles (where he appeared with the LA Philharmonic). His recording of a selection of Armenian folk songs and ballads entitled 'I Will Not Be Sad In This World' (1989), dedicated to the victims of the Armenian earthquake, has received worldwide recognition. He has collaborated with Lional Richie and Peter Gabriel and has 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 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.
Djivan Gasparyan's recording with Michael Brook was released on Real World Records in 1998.