PALIASHVILI, Zakharii (1871-1933) was born in Kutaisi, Georgia into a musical family of 18 children. As a young boy, he sang in a choir and learned to play the organ in the St. Mary Catholic Church of Kutaisi. His first tutor was his brother Ivan, who later became a conductor. In 1887 Paliashvili moved to Tbilisi working as a chorister in the St. Mary Assumption Catholic Church of Tbilisi, and eventually entered the Tbilisi Musical School, a branch of the Russian Royal Musical Society College, which was organized with the assistance of Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov. Studying French horn and composition, he graduated with honors in 1899 and founded a choir that performed Georgian and Russian folk songs.
Upon Sergei Taneyev's recommendation, Paliashvili was accepted to the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied from 1900 to 1903; while there, he was exposed to the outpouring of liturgical choral composition from the “new Russian Choral School.” After completing his studies he returned to Georgia where he taught at the Tbilisi High School, the Tbilisi Musical College, the Philharmonic Society, and the Tbilisi Conservatory.
Paliashvili’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, published in 1909, which combines Georgian traditional chant melodies with Russian-influenced harmonizations, was Paliashvili’s contribution to nationalist attempts to revive and modernize traditionalGeorgian music during the decades around the turn of the twentieth century.
In 1918 Paliashvili became the head of the Tbilisi Conservatory. He is a figure of national pride in Georgia, known especially for his operas, and is considered to be the father of Georgian classical music. At the Tbilisi opera house, renamed in his honor, his operas are among those performed at the beginning of each season. His liturgical choral work, however, has remained neglected in post-Soviet Georgia, as attention has focused upon the revival of traditional three-voiced chant.