Alexander Arutiunian (1920 – 2012) was a Soviet and Armenian composer and pianistis ranked among the most important Armenian composers in the generation after Aram Khachaturian. His style is quite approachable, and like Khachaturian's, often exotically colorful, exhibiting folk-like Armenian traits, and catchy melodies. But he also employed neo-classical elements in his works, especially from the 1960s onward. Arutiunian was born on September 23, 1920, in Yerevan. He exhibited musical talent at an early age on the piano and entered Yerevan's Komitas Conservatory while still in his teens. There, he studied piano and composition, graduating in 1941. By now, Arutiunian had decided on a career as a composer: he had joined the U.S.S.R.'s Union of Composers in 1939, but more importantly had already written his first major composition, his piano concerto. The melodic and rhythmic characteristics of Armenian folk music are a strong influence in Arutiunian’s work. As a composer, he expresses his nationality by incorporating the flavor of ashughner (folk minstrel) improvisations.