Varujan Kojian


Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique | Utah Symphony

Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

Varujan Kojian was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1945. The son of a professional jazz clarinettist, Kojian began to study the violin at the age of eight. After seven months of study, he gave a recital that came to the attention of the president of Lebanon, who decided to send him to Paris to study at government expense. Varujan Kojian distinguished himself at a very young age as an outstanding violinist, and not long thereafter as a conductor.

Graduating from the Paris Conservatorie at the age of thirteen with a first prize in violin, he went to the United States to study with Ivan Galamian at the Curtis Institute of Music. Later, as one of 280 violin students to audition for Jascha Heifetz’s masterclasses, he was one of the three selected. After four years of study with Heifetz, Zubin Mehta offered the nineteen-year-old Varujan Kojian the post of assistant concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. While serving in this capacity, he became interested in conducting. For practical experience, he formed an orchestra of his own, and later becoming musical director of the Beverly Hills Orchestra.

In 1970, when the Los Angeles Philharmonic was searching for an assistant conductor, Zubin Mehta asked for Varujan Kojian. The following year he moved to Vienna to study with Hans Swarowsky. Four months later, he was appointed Swarowsky’s assistant, going on to complete the regular four-year course in nine months of intensive study. Varujan added to his growing reputation by capturing first prize at the International Competition of Conductors in Sorrento in Italy in 1972, a success followed by concerts throughout Europe.

He was associate conductor of the Seattle Symphony and principal guest conductor of the Royal Opera in Stockholm from 1973 to 1980. He led the Utah Symphony form 1981 to 1984. He was the music director of the Santa Barbara Symphony in 1985. He died in March 1993 at the age of 57.

Varujan Kojian Reviews:

“Musically and sonically, this is one of the very best recordings you can buy.” —Stereo Review