Aram Khachaturian (Armenia/ Georgia, 1903-1978)
He considered himself Armenian, though he was born and brought up in Georgia, and the fiery independence that characterises those peoples certainly comes out in his music. Oriental-sounding twists and turns of melody, dissonances as spicey and burning as Caucasian food, and simple, sometimes pounding, rhythms, have Khachaturian's graphic music popular with a wide audience: the Adagio from Spartacus or his waltz from Masquerade are as likely to turn up on easy-listening stations as core classical. His Sabre Dance even made the pop singles charts. His independent spirit won him few friends in Soviet officialdom though, and he was heavily criticised in the 1948 clampdown along with Prokofiev and Shostakovich (who admired both him and his music). Like the violinist in his dazzling Violin Concerto, Khachaturian ploughed on regardless.