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Obituary for Hratch "Maestro" Berberian

Violinist, Pedagogue and Musicologist

Hratch, “Maestro”, age 91, of Brookings, SD, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and friends on August 15th in Richfield, MN.

Hratch Berberian was born in Athens, Greece in January of 1927. He began violin lessons at an early age under the tutelage of his father, famed Armenian composer Hampartzoum Berberian. Receiving a violin scholarship, he entered the Cesar Franck School of Music in Paris, graduating with highest honors. In 1957, he immigrated to the United States, and continued his studies at the Boston Conservatory, graduating with a Master of Music degree. While in Boston, Hratch performed and toured with the Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by Arthur Fiedler.
Furthermore, he performed with the Goldowsky Opera Orchestra, and the Pablo Casals Music Festival in Puerto Rico by special invitation for many seasons.

From 1967-1996, Hratch served as Professor of Music at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD and Concertmaster of the SDSU-Civic Symphony. He was instrumental in establishing the string program in the Department of Music. While at SDSU, he further pursued doctoral studies in musicology at the University of Iowa. Hratch continued his performance career by concertizing extensively as a violinist in the Middle East, Europe and the US. Hratch loved to compose music, and has written several compositions for strings. His wife, Arpinee, was an Instructor of Voice at SDSU. For 47 years, they made beautiful music together, often performing together on the stage.

He has said that if he hadn’t taught music, he would have been an astronomer as he loved studying the mysteries of the universe. As a child, he loved to play soccer. Some of his pastimes included watching soccer and boxing, and taking summer road trips with his family. Hratch loved Chevy Caprice Classics and owned a series of them. He cared deeply for the well-being and success of his students over the years. A great story-teller and comedian, he used his life lessons in his teaching. He touched many lives through his blue eyes, his warm and kind demeanor, wit, and through his music. He was a devoted husband and father. He will be greatly missed.

Survived by his loving daughters, Ani Berberian (Curt Christensen) of Berryville, VA, and Shoghig Berberian of Minneapolis, MN; sister, Nayiri Berberian of Watertown, MA; brother, Chahe Berberian of Somerville, MA. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Arpinee (Sanoukian); his brother, renowned cellist, Vahe; and his parents, Hampartzoum and Serpouhi.

Visitation will be at KOZLAK-RADULOVICH CHAPEL, 1918 University Avenue NE, Monday- August 20th from 5-8 pm. Funeral Service at ST. SAHAG ARMENIAN CHURCH, 203 North Howell Street, St. Paul, Tuesday-August 21st at 11 am with visitation one hour prior. Interment will be on August 24th at 11 am at Ridgelawn Cemetery in Watertown, MA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to P.O. Box 19043, Minneapolis, MN 55419 to support various Armenian charitable organization.
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