Symphony No.1 "Requiem for the Massacred"
Composed in 1974 for the 60th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the original score of this symphony was written for solo trumpet and percussion ensemble. In 1975 the Percussion virtuosi of the London Symphony Orchestra premiered and recorded the Symphony, conducted by the composer. In 1996 it was arranged for large orchestra, choir and backstage trumpet. The backstage trumpet which plays the final melody ("Swallow") can be sung by male or female voice istead of trumpet. The first performance was given at the Megaron Concert Hall in Athens in 1998. It was recorded by the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir the same year. The symphony is in five movements:
V/ Death of the Immigrant
The symphony starts with a death motive which appears throughout the symphony. The first movement is based on the Armenian medieval chant “Oh, Great Mystery!”. The second movement is based on another Armenian medieval chant about Judas’s betrayal of Christ. The third movement is based on funeral music of the Armenian Church. The fourth movement is instrumental and depicts the scattering of Armenians around the world after the genocide. The fifth movement is based on the Armenian immigrant song “Tsitsernak”, depicting the death of the composer's immigrant grandfather, Dr. Karakashian, who continued singing that song until his death. In the symphony the song is left unfinished, ending the entire work with an outcry.
Symphony No. 2 "Credo"
Composed in 1979 for the 65th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Tjeknavorian worked on the symphony while he served as composer in residence at the Armenian College at the University of LaVern in California. The first performance was given by the National Symphony Orchestra in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1970. The symphony is in four movements which are performed without interruption. Motives of various Armenian folk songs are used in the first movement, which expresses anxiety and fear. The second movement is based on a medieval Armenian chant (Credo), which is played on all the wind instruments in different rhythmic patterns, against a gigantic cluster in the string section, fading in from various registers. It then reaches its climax before giving way to the massacre scene of the third movement. Here another medieval chant, “Judas’s Love of Silver”, is presented, which leads the movement into chaos, proceeding to the death march, recognized by ponderous bass drum beats that eventually end in outcry. The forth movement brings back the Credo melody expressing salvation through Christ. One by one, each woodwind, brass, and percussion instrument enters playing the motif, with different rhythmic patterns,
until the entire choir and orchestra join in a majestic tutti performance of the Credo theme. The symphony has no marked ending and it should finish whenever the conductor desires.