Emanuel Melik-Aslanian was born in 1915 in a Christian family in Tabriz and received his first piano lessons from a local musician by the name of Amatoni. In 1927 Melik-Aslanian began piano studies at the Brahms Academy in Hamburg and continued them from 1935 to 1937 at the Hamburg Conservatory. He also studied composition and conducting at the German State Academy and spent a few years studying philosophy. The teachers who exerted the strongest influence on him were Paul Hindemith and the brothers Auzorgeh.
After graduation he became the director of a piano school in Hamburg and played many critically acclaimed recitals in Germany and Austria. On his return to Tehran in 1952, he was appointed as a professor at the Tehran Conservatory. In this period, Melik-Aslanian paid more attention to Persian music and composed several works for piano based on Persian themes, such as Chargah. A number of his other works, including
Golbang, a symphonic poem, Parvaneh (Butterfly), a ballet, and a piano concerto, were performed by the Tehran Symphony and the Tehran Conservatory Orchestra.
Melik-Aslanian believed that, if counterpoint were added to Persia’s national musical heritage and new methods were created to arrange the Persian melodies, the result would be a new international school of composition. As he often pointed out, “Counterpoint is a science, so it is international; therefore it does not damage our national identity."
Melik-Aslanian had a great role in advancing Persian art music. He taught for many years at the Tehran Conservatory of Music. Unfortunately, orchestral scores of his works have not been published. A few of his articles were published before the 1979 Revolution in Tehran in Majale-ye-Musik, and a collection of piano pieces, entitled Tre pezzi di pianoforte su temi di danze popolari orientali, was published in 1990 in Italy. The lack of published works may be explained by Melik-Aslanian’s professorial scruples about proper performance of his orchestral compositions.
He died on 14 July 2003 at age eighty-eight.