Composer, musicologist, academic and Director of the Encuentros Group, Alicia Terzian studied in the National Conserva­tory of Music of Buenos Ayres. She stud­ied Armenian music at the Monastery of San Lazaro (Venice) with Dr. Leoncio Dayan. She offered lectures on this sub­ject at the University of Yale (USA), at the Great Hall of UNESCO in Paris, at sever­al universities in the United States and throughout Europe. Several of her works were awarded by the City Government of Buenos Ayres and the National Fund for the Arts. In 1982 she won the National Music Grand Prize.
She participated in various commissions on composition: Gulbenkian Foundation of Lisbon, Ices Festival of London, Festival of Zagreb, Aspekte Festival Salzburg, Sym­phonic Orchestra of Grenoble, Museum of Modern Art of Buenos Aires, Banco Mayo Foundation, Radio France, etc. Ter­zian was the President of the Argentine Council of Music (CAMU), Vice President of the International Council of Music (CIM, 1990-93), General Secretary of the Music Council of the Three Americas (COMTA). Among her titles: “Member of the Acad­emy of Fine Arts” of Chile; “Member of the Music Academy” of Valencia, Spain; Knight of the Order of the Academic Palms by decree of the Government of France; Medal “Saint Sahak and Saint Mesrop”, as well as the “Papal Bull” grant­ed by the Catholicos of All Armenians Vazgen the First, the “Piccaso-Miro Med­al”, granted by the General Secretary of UNESCO for her support and dissemi­nation of Latin American composers. In 2013, Terzian was awarded as “Outstand­ing Personality of Argentine Culture” by the Argentine Parliament.


My research concerning this subject be­gan in 1954, in Alberto Ginastera’s course on composition at the Superior National Music Conservatory in Buenos Aires (Ar­gentina). I was 20 years old, but I was al­ready familiar with Armenian music and the folk and religious melodies of Komi­tas Vardapet, because my mother used to sing them. During this first year of composition I had the chance to receive a journal of the Mekhitarist Congregation of Venice, in which there was an article by Reverend Dr. Leoncio Dayan that made a reference to the Armenian folk music collected by Komitas Vardapet and the very clear and defined presence in the latter of microtonalism in the form of “quarter-tones”. I immediately communi­cated to Dr. Dayan and, throughout the years, we maintained correspondence, full of his love for the in-depth studies of the Armenian religious and folk music collected by Komitas and the “discov­ery”, through his work, of the existence of quarter-tones.
The quarter-tones were very clearly indi­cated in the religious texts studied and analyzed by Dr. Dayan, as the Library of the Mekhitarist Religious Congregation of Venice possessed numerous very im­portant ancient documents. The first im­portant discovery for me were the quar­ter-tones that oriented me, in the same year, towards composing the “Three Pieces for Strings” based on Armenian folk melodies, where I had recourse to quarter-tones. That is to say, grace to Fa­ther Dayan I had discovered a new scale, where there was a new sound within and between each semitone, and I under­stood that this new quarter-tone sound was what gave the melody its very spe­cial color and spatial projection.
Throughout our entire communication Dr. Dayan sent me many books on this discovery written by him and published in Venice, in which there was a huge amount of Armenian melodies with quar­ter-tones occurring at different points, which was connected to some of the “modes” of the Armenian liturgy. Almost at the same time, I learnt that Armenian folk instruments, in a common tradition followed by folk performers, had incorpo­rated the quarter-tone into the melodies in a very clear manner.
But at a certain moment I decided to inte­grate my knowledge on the quarter-tone directly into my musical activity, and it is in the year 1969 that I wrote my first piece in quarter-tones “Shantiniketan” for solo flute. A year later, in 1970, I continued working with the quarter-tones creating a piece for solo horn, the vibraphone and string orchestra entitled “Carmen Criatu­ralis”, which had been commissioned to me by composer and conductor Fried­erich Cerha for his presentation with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Buenos Aires at the Colon Theater. That is how I contin­ued composing, always using the micro­tones I learnt about “by chance ” in 1954, in a book by Dr. Leoncio Dayan, to whom I dedicate this presentation.