By Anastasia Tsioulcas
NEW YORK (NPR) — Legendary duduk player Jivan Gasparyan died on July 6, according to a Facebook post by his grandson and protégé, Jivan Gasparyan Jr. He was 92.
He was a prolific performer, playing on the soundtracks of many movies, from “The Last Temptation of Christ” to “Gladiator.” He was also a collaborator of musicians Peter Gabriel, Michael Brook, the Kronos Quartet, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Lionel Ritchie and Queen’s Brian May, among many others.
No other details were provided.
Gasparyan (whose names are sometimes transliterated as “Djivan” and “Gasparian”) was born October 12, 1928 in Solak, Armenia, in a village near Yerevan. At age six, he began learning the duduk — a double-reed instrument close to the Western oboe — from his father, who was also a musician. Years later, though, he said in interview with English music journalist Simon Broughton that his biggest inspiration was going as a boy to the cinema, and hearing duduk players accompany the films with their own improvisations.
Within his own country, Gasparyan’s talent was recognized early. He coaxed a whole world of emotional expression out of his simple instrument — one made of apricot wood, with only a one-octave range. By the time he was 20, Gasparyan was soloing with the Yerevan Philharmonic Orchestra. He had a notable career in Armenia and the then-Soviet Union; in 1973, he was the first musician to be given the title of the People’s Artist of Armenia.