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Maro Ajemian

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Pianist Maro Ajemian was a key advocate of contemporary music in the mid-twentieth century, not only as a soloist, but also in a violin/piano duo with her sister Anahid. Both were of Armenian ancestry and studied at Juilliard; Maro Ajemian gave the American premiere of the Khachaturian Piano Concerto at a Juilliard School concert in 1942. At about this time Ajemian started a grassroots organization called the Friends of Armenian Music, which gave an annual concert at Town Hall in New York City. The composer who most benefited from these concerts was Alan Hovhaness, of Armenian extraction, but Ajemian also performed works by Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, Ernst Krenek, and others on these programs. Although only relatively few of her recordings have appeared on compact disc, Ajemian was a prolific recording artist, recording for CRI, Folkways, and most frequently for MGM Records' short-lived classical label. In addition to the composers named above, Ajemian recorded music of Ernest Bloch, Carlos Surinach, Carlos Chávez, Revueltas, Webern, Weill, Toch, and Gunther Schuller, and many of these were first recordings. Her most famous endeavor, though, was a recording of the Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano of John Cage, a work dedicated to her and issued on three Dial LPs in 1951. These albums helped make Cage's reputation in serious musical circles and, as they were successful, established the marketability of contemporary music in the then-new LP format. This recording was re-released on CRI in 1965 as a single LP and was still in print when Ajemian died at age 54.

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09 July 1924

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