Richard Yardumian (April 5, 1917 – August 15, 1985) was an Armenian-American classical music composer.
Yardumian was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest of ten children to Armenian immigrant parents, and began studying the piano at a very early age. His mother, Lucia, was a teacher and organist, and his father, the Rev. Haig Yardumian, was the founding pastor of the Philadelphia Armenian Evangelical community, which later became the Armenian Martyrs' Congregational Church, now located in Havertown, Pennsylvania.
Very little has been written about Yardumian's early life, but it is known that his family's household was busy and musical. Elijah Yardumian, a concert pianist and a product of the Curtis Institute, served as a musical mentor to his younger brother Richard, who began composing at age 14 and began a formal study of piano, harmony, theory and counterpoint at age 21. He was only 19 when he wrote his most popular piece, The Armenian Suite. This work, later recorded by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Utah Symphony, the Bournemouth Symphony, and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, was also used as the signature theme for the Voice of America radio programBehind the Iron Curtain. Yardumian's earlier compositions frequently reflect the Armenian folk songs and religious melodies he was exposed to as a child.
The Great Depression of the 1930s precluded advanced formal music training for Yardumian, but he continued to progress on his own time. He was a private in the army during World War II when, in 1945, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra premiered Desolate City, which marked Yardumian's debut as a composer. This was also the beginning of his long association with Ormandy, which led to several recordings on the Columbia label. Throughout the history of their relationship, the Philadelphia Orchestra premiered ten of Yardumian's works, bringing the total of known performances worldwide to nearly 100. This number includes the performances of his Story of Abraham, a multi-media composition that included the broadcast of Andre Girard's unique hand-painted 70mm film sequences.
In 1967, Fordham University, in celebration of its 125th anniversary, commissioned Yardumian to write his mass, Come Creator Spirit, which was premiered at Lincoln Center that year with mezzo-soprano Lili Chookasian. This musically complex piece is now rarely if ever performed, yet it stands as an interesting contribution to theCatholic musical canon, if for no other reason than for its having been penned by a Protestant.
In the 1950s, Yardumian began writing hymns for The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma, a Swedenborgian congregation, in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, a church he later joined and for which he became musical director.
He was a National Patron of Delta Omicron, an international professional music fraternity.