Otar Taktakishvili

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Otar Taktakishvili
Born 27 July 1924
Tblisi, Georgia
Origin Georgian
Died February 21, 1989(1989-02-21) (aged 64)
Genres Classical music, Symphony, Opera, Georgian contemporary music, Folklore
Occupation(s) composer, conductor, music director, teacher
Years active 1957–2002
Associated acts Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre, Georgian State Symphony Orchestra, Tbilisi Center for Music and Culture, Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra

Otar Taktakishvili (Georgian: ოთარ თაქთაქიშვილი; Russian: Отар Васильевич Тактакишвили; Tbilisi, 27 July 1924 – 21 February 1989) was a Georgian composer, teacher, conductor, and musicologist.

Otar Taktakishvili graduated from the Tbilisi State Conservatory, while still a student he composed the official anthem of the Georgian SSR. By 1949 he became a Professor of the Tbilisi Conservatory and the conductor and the artistic director of the Georgian State chorus. In 1951 he received his first Stalin Prize (USSR State Prize) for his First Symphony. In 1962, Taktakishvili became Chairman of the Georgian Composers' Union; and in 1965 the Minister for Culture of the Georgian Republic from 1965 until 1983.

He was awarded the title of People's Artist of the USSR in 1974, the Lenin Prize in 1982, and the USSR State Prize in 1951, 1952 and 1967. Throughout his career he also served as a member of the international musical committee of UNESCO, and twice headed the electoral committee for the Tchaikovski competition of pianists in Moscow.

Taktakishvili's works include operas (Mindia, First Love, The Abduction of the Moon, Mususi, Three Tales), two symphonies, four piano concertos, two violin concertos and two cello concertos, the symphonic poem Mtsyri and the oratorios In the Steps of Rustaveli and Nikoloz Baratashvili, adaptations of Georgian folk songs (Megruli simgerebi, Guruli simgerebi), and a multitude of compositions for instruments and voice. Probably his best-known work in the West is his sonata for flute and piano.

Early life

Otar V. Taktakishvili was born in 1924 in Tbilisi, Georgia, into a musical family. Otar grew up in Tbilisi on Shiomgvimeli street, in the Varaziskhevi neighborhood of Tbilisi. Raised by a single mother, Elezaveta Mikhailovna Taktakishvili, who worked as an artist at the Georgian Opera House, Otar had a childhood rich in music. He was strongly influenced by his uncle Shalva Taktakishvili, who was a composer and a professor at the Tbilisi Conservatory. Shalva was one of the founders of the “Association of Young Georgian String Orchestra", and had authored operas, ballets and chamber works. Otar’s other uncle, Giorgi Taktakishvili was a cellist and director of a music school. His uncles were young Otar's first musical guides and influences. From a young age, the composer showed great musical promise, and as a child was able to correctly guess notes played on the piano while blindfolded. While attending the No42 School on Barnov St. in Tbilisi, Otar started his piano lessons with Tamara V. Bagrationi. He subsequently studied with several piano educators including Militsa K. Korius, Anastasia D. Virasladze, and Evgenia Vasilievna Cherniavskaia, where he met his future wife, Irina Giorgienvna Chirakadze, with whom he lived until the end of his life in 1989. Their romance started at the piano while practicing a piano piece for four hands. At the end of high school, he attended and received a diploma from the Air Force Technicuum until he began his studies at the Tbilisi conservatory. Soon after entering the conservatory in 1942, while Georgia was at war with Nazi Germany, Taktakishvili composed the Anthem of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. According to the composer’s own report, his mother had urged him to enter the contest for the National Anthem after seeing the words to the anthem published in the newspaper. The 19-year-old composer wrote the music “in one try”, submitted his entry and forgot about the contest. He only found out that his music had been selected when he stood outside the concert hall and heard his anthem being played.

Taktakishvili studied at the Tbilisi Conservatory under Aleksandr Gauk, Sergei V. Barchudarian and Andria Balanchivadze. The composer’s early influences were Georgian folk music, composers of the classical era, e.g. Mozart, J.S. Bach and Beethoven, and more modern composers, including Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich. In his senior year, Taktakishvili had the opportunity to study with Dmitri Shostakovich, and that led to a long-standing collaboration and friendship.

Taktakishvili is survived by his spouse, Irina Chirakadze, who resides in the same apartment on 6 Taktakishvili street (former Riga street) where the composer lived from 1964 until 1989, as well as his son Mikhail O. Taktakishvili, who is a professor of Chemistry, and grandson Otar M. Taktakishvili, who is a physician and a composer, living in New York.




  • 1957 — I will say the truth
  • 1982 — The Law of Eternity
  • 1984 — Monday - Usual day


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