Born: June 26, 1924, New York, NY
Deceased: June 13, 2016. New York, NY
Anahid Marguerite Ajemian was an American violinist of Armenian descent renowned as an ardent champion of new music. She began her musical studies at an early age at the Institute of Musical Art, which later became the Juilliard School where she studied violin with Edouard Dethier and chamber music with Hans Letz and Felix Salmon. In 1946, while still a student of Dethier, Ajemian she won the Naumburg Violin Competition, making her debut in Town Hall that same year performing works by Bach, Beethoven, Debussy and Bartok. She also received the Distinguished Achievement Medal from Mademoiselle magazine as the Young Woman of the Year in Music.
With her pianist sister, Maro Ajemian, she performed throughout Europe, Canada and the United States, including playing repertoire of works written especially for them by such composers as John Cage, Henry Cowell, Alan Hovhaness, Ernst Krenek, Lou Harrison, Wallingford Riegger, Carlos Surinach and Ben Weber. Together and separately, the Ajemian sisters recorded extensively for Columbia, RCA Victor, MGM and Composers Records.
In the 1940s, Ajemian co-founded the New York City-based organization of Friends of Armenian Music Committee. In the mid-1960s, with violinist Matthew Raimondi, violist Bernard Zaslav and cellist Seymour Barab, Ajemian founded the Composers String Quartet, that toured more than 26 countries and recorded exclusively for the Musical Heritage Society, Nonesuch Records, Composers Recordings and Columbia Records. The Quartet's 1970 recording of Elliott Carter's "First and Second Quartets" received a Grammy nomination, Stereo Review's "Best Chamber Music Recording of the Year," and called by Time magazine as "an astonishingly brilliant and unique achievement." The Composers Quartet was in residence at Columbia University and the New England Conservatory of Music as well as the Mt. Desert Festival of Chamber Music in Northeast Harbor, Maine.
With her husband, George Avakian, a celebrated record produce and a founding officer of the National Academy of Recording Arts, they inaugurated in 1957, Music for Moderns, a critically acclaimed contemporary concert series in Town Hall.
Anahid Ajemian was praised by critics for the sensitivity, lyrcism and tonal control of her playing.
1946 Naumburg Competition