Obituary: Hratch Berberian Violinist, Pedagogue and Musicologist


BROOKINGS, S.D. — Hratch, “Maestro” Berberian, 91, of Brookings, SD, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and friends on August 15 in Richfield, MN.

Berberian was born in Athens, Greece on January 13, 1927. He began violin lessons at an early age under the tutelage of his father, famed Armenian composer Hampartzoum Berberian. Receiving a violin scholarship, he entered the Cesar Franck School of Music in Paris, graduating with highest honors. In 1957, he immigrated to the United States, and continued his studies at the Boston Conservatory, graduating with a Master of Music degree. While in Boston, he performed and toured with the Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by Arthur Fiedler.

He also performed with the Goldowsky Opera Orchestra, and the Pablo Casals Music Festival in Puerto Rico by special invitation for many seasons.

From 1967-1996, Berberian served as Professor of Music at South Dakota State University (SDSU) in Brookings, SD and as concertmaster of the SDSU-Civic Symphony. He was instrumental in establishing the string program in the Department of Music.

While at SDSU, he further pursued doctoral studies in musicology at the University of Iowa. Berberian continued his performance career by concertizing extensively as a violinist in the Middle East, Europe and the US.

Berberian loved to compose music, and has written several compositions for strings.

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His wife, Arpinee, was an instructor of voice at SDSU. For 47 years, they made beautiful music together, often performing together on the stage.

Berberian said that if he had not taught music, he would have been an astronomer, as he loved studying the mysteries of the universe.

As a child, he loved to play soccer. Some of his pastimes included watching soccer and boxing, and taking summer road trips with his family.

A great story-teller and comedian, he used his life lessons in his teaching. He cared deeply for the well-being and success of his students over the years. He touched many lives through his blue eyes, his warm and kind demeanor, wit, and through his music. He was a devoted husband and father.

He is survived by his daughters, Ani Berberian (Curt Christensen) of Berryville, VA, and Shoghig Berberian of Minneapolis, MN; sister, Nayiri Berberian of Watertown, MA; brother, Chahe Berberian of Somerville, MA. He was preceded in death by his wife, Arpinee (Sanoukian); his brother, renowned cellist, Vahe; and his parents, Hampartzoum and Serpouhi.

His funeral took place in Massachusetts, arranged by the Giragosian Funeral Home. Graveside services were held at Ridgelawn Cemetery in Watertown on Friday, August 24.

Topics: Obituary



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