Meliton Balanchivadze was a Georgian composer and one of the founders of Georgian classical music. His two sons, George Balanchine and Andria Balanchivadze, had illustrious careers, the former as a leading choreographer in the United States, and the latter as Soviet Georgia’s foremost classical composer.
Trained at the seminaries of Kutaisi and Tbilisi, he began an operatic career at the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre in 1880. In 1882, he founded a Georgian folk ensemble and organized the first folk concert in Tbilisi the following year. From 1883 to 1886, he travelled to various parts of Georgia, collecting folk songs and training folk choirs. From 1889 to 1895, he studied at St. Petersburg Conservatory where one of his teachers was Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Between 1895 and 1917, he toured Russia giving concerts of Georgian folk music. After the 1917 Bolshevik coup, he returned to his native Georgia where he taught and composed. He is the author of the first Georgian opera Tamar the Wily (თამარ ცბიერი) which was first performed by Russian artists at the Hall of the Russian Nobility Council in 1897.