The Vano Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire is the first higher institution in Georgia. For several years it remained the only High College for Music of European type in the whole Caucasus. The 1st of May 1917 is registered in the Georgian music history as the birthday of the Tbilisi Conservatoire. In 1924 it got the status of State Conservatoire. Since 1947 it bears the name of the famous Georgian singer – Vano Saradjishvili. As an architectural building, it has been included in the list of monuments of Georgian cultural heritage.
Before the Conservatoire was founded there was a vibrant musical life in Tbilisi in the second half of the 19th century. The Georgian society got acquainted with the art of opera, the Western-European and Russian classical music, centres of musical education were opened, possibility of producing homegrown Georgian musicians appeared.
Fundraising for the Conservatoire building began with a charitable concert given in 1891 by Anton Rubinstein. The sum, together with donations by Georgian cultural patrons, including the brothers Stepane, Levan and Jacob Zubalashvili, the Conservatoire building, designed by A.Shimkevich was completed in 1917.
Today like a century ago the role of patrons, business groups and friends is very important. Excellent examples of such support are the concert halls of the conservatoire, reconstructed according to modern standards, viz.: the Grand Hall (500 seats) and the Recital Hall (200 seats); Chamber Hall (80 seats), Opera Studio and the Student Orchestra rehearsal halls; conference halls, audio library, equipped with modern technique and recording studios. The Conservatoire takes pride of its library; and the museum, which preserves relics of Georgian music culture, documenting the history of the Conservatoire as well as the development of musical education in Georgia.
Among the first teachers in Conservatoire were students of F.Liszt, G.Veniavsky, A.Marmontel, P.Tchaikovsky, Moscheless and Kulau, as well as J.Lhevinne and R.Lhevinne- founders of the famous Julliard School of Music, G.Neihaus, F.Kesner, L.Truskowski, E.Vronski. O.Bakhutashvili-Shulgina, V.Vilshau, K.Miniar, E.Guzikov, M.Ipolitov-Ivanov, former soloist of the La Scala E.Broggi, the Georgian musicians, former alumni of the Moscow and St.Petersburg Conservatories – D.Arakishvili and Z.Paliashvili (composers); A.Tulashvili and A.Virsaladze (pianists); L.Iashvili and L.Shiukashvili (violinists); D.Andghuladze and A.Inashvili (singers); O.Dimitriadi and E.Mikeladze (conductors); Sh.Aslanishvili, V.Donadze, G.Chkhikvadze, P.Khuchua (musicologists) and others. .
During the period of its existence the Tbilisi State Conservatoire has produced a number of oustanding musicians, among them generations of Georgian composers: A.Balanchivadze, Sh.Mshvelidze, A.Machavariani, O.Taktakishvili, S.Tsintsadze, R.Laghidze, B.Kvernadze, S.Nasidze, N.Gabunia, G.Kancheli, N.Mamisashvili, J.Kechakmadze, T.Bakuradze, J.Bardanashvili, Z.Nadareishvili and others; conductors: Dj.Kakhidze, V.Machavariani etc.
The level of Georgian performing art is particularly very high. The success of the conservatoire graduates, who perform in different countries of the world, points to its best traditions. Among the graduates of the Tbilisi State Conservatoire are: Elisso Virsaladze, Rudolf Kerer, Dimitri Bashkirov, Lev Vlasenko, Tengiz Amiredjibi, Nodar Andghuladze, Manana Doidjashvili, Tamar Gabarashvili, Alexander Toradze, Marine Iashvili, Alexander Nizharadze, Alexander Korsantia, Alexander Kordzaia, Paata Burchuladze, Eter Andjaparidze, Iano Alibegashvili (Tamari), Lado Ataneli, Ala Simonishvili (Simoni), Tamar Javakhishvili (Iveri), Nino Surguladze and others.
Today the Conservatoire teachers’ staff includes about 200 professors. Among them are: 70 Professors, more than 60 Associate-Professors and 40 Assistant-Professors. They carry out various pedagogical, professional-performing and scientific activities. They give concerts, conduct master classes, workshops and public lectures and take part in international conferences, symposia both in Georgia and abroad.
Since the day of its foundation the Tbilisi State Conservatoire has become one of the major cultural and educational centres in Georgia. The most remarkable cultural events take place in its walls, including music forums, national and international competitions, international symposia and scientific conferences, masterclasses, concerts and student opera performances at the conservatoire Opera Studio.
Today the Tbilisi State Conservatoire has wide international connections. Since 2000 master classes as well as competitions and annual “Summer Performing Workshops” conducted by well-known musicians have become regular events.
Tbilisi State Conservatoire is the heart of concert life of Georgia. At different times the most prominent musicians of the world performed on the stages of the Grand and Recital Halls of the Conservatoire, viz: V.Horowitz, E.Petri, D. Shtidri, O.Ridi, S.Richter, D.Oistrakh, E.Gilels, M.Rostropovich and others.
At the same time the Conservatoire is a major centre of scientific research in music art.
Scientific conferences and international symposia are also held at the Conservatoire. The publications on scientific and methodological matters are issued; since 2004 the conservatoire has its electronic magazine.
Now the conservatoire has close to 400 students. They are actively involved in the concert and scientific life of the conservatoire, regularly take part in national and international competitions and conferences. The list of the prizewinners (conservatoire students and graduates) in prestigious and challenging international competitions is rather impressive.
Since 1995 State conservatoire has adopted two-step European Educational System of studies.
Since 2006 the Tbilisi State Conservatoire has become a member of the AEC (European Association of Conservatories). From 2005 the conservatoire has joined the Bologna Process with its transfer and credit system. The rich centuries-old traditions in the field of musical education have not only been preserved at the Conservatoire but continuos improvements have been made to meet the academic and modern standards of the 21st century.