Society 12:45 26/09/2014

Today is 145th birthday of great Armenian composer Komitas

Komitas, a.k.a. Soghomon Soghomonyan, was born on September 26, 1869 in Anatolia, Turkey, in the town of Koutina (Ketaia). His father, Gevorg Soghomonyan was a shoemaker but he also composed songs and had a beautiful voice. The composer’s mother – Taguhi - was also singled out for her vivid musical abilities; she was a carpet weaver.

Komitas’s childhood was joyless and full of deprivations. He lost his mother when he was less than one year old, and because his father was too busy his grandmother took care of him. At age 7 Komitas entered the local elementary school. As soon as he finished school his father sent him to Broosa to continue his education. However, he failed and 4 months later he came home having ultimately become an orphan: his father passed away and Soghomon was only 11 years old…
“He was a frail, weak, pale boy, always thoughtful and kind. He was dressed poorly,” one of his classmates recalled about Komitas.

Soghomon was often seen sleeping on the cold stones of the laundry room.

He could sing perfectly, and no wonder in Koutina he was nicknamed “a little vagrant singer.”

For his delightful voice Soghomonyan was also indebted to an event that fundamentally changed the entire course of his life.

In 1881 the priest of Koutina, G. Dertsakyan, had to leave for Etchmiadzin to be ordained a bishop. At the request of the Catholicos he brought the gifted orphan boy with him to study at the Etchmiadzin Church Seminary. Twelve-year old Soghomon was selected out of the other 20 orphans to study at the Seminary. As it was forbidden to speak Armenian at that time the boy spoke Turkish and when being greeted by the Catholicos Gevorg IV, he replied, “I don’t speak Armenian, if you wish I will sing.” Then with his fine soprano voice he sang an Armenian sharakan (a church hymn) without understanding the words. Due to his exclusive aptitude Soghomon overcame all the obstacles in a very short time and perfectly learned Armenian.

In 1890 Soghomon was ordained a monk.

In 1893 he finished studying at the seminary, then he was ordained a “Vardapet” (priest) and acquired his new name “Komitas” - the name of the outstanding poet of VII century, the author of sharakans. At the seminary Komitas was assigned to teach music.

Along with teaching, Komitas organized a choir, an orchestra of folk instruments, and treated folk songs; he made the first researches in the field of Armenian Church music.

In 1895 Komitas was ordained an archimandrite. In the autumn of the same year he left for Tiflis to study at the musical college. However, when he met the composer Makar Yekmalyan, who had received his education at the conservatory of Petersburg, he changed his mind and started studying a course on harmony by that composer. These studies became the original forerunner and the firm basis for gaining the European technique of composition.

The further events of Komitas’s life had to do with the large music center in Europe – Berlin, where he went to study under the protection of the Catholicos, being financed by the largest Armenian oil magnate Alexander Mantashyan.

Komitas entered the private conservatory of Professor Richard Schmidt. Within the conservatory Komitas took private classes on singing, elaborating his beautiful voice, fine baritone. Simultaneously with these classes, he also attended the lectures on Philosophy, Esthetics, General History and History of Music. During these academic years he had an opportunity to “communicate” with European music, continually enriching the supply of knowledge, and engaging in musical criticism. Upon the invitation of the International Music Association he held lectures devoted to the Armenian church and contemporary music in comparison with Turkish, Arabic and Kurdish music.

In September 1899 Komitas returned to Etchmiadzin and started his musical activity right away. In a short period he radically changed the system of teaching music in the seminary, organized a small orchestra and perfected the performance level of the choir.

He visited various regions of Armenia treating and putting down thousands of Armenian, Kurdish, Persian and Turkish songs.

He started serious scientific research work, studied Armenian folk and church melodies and worked on the decipherment of Armenian khazzes and on the theory of voices. In various countries of the world Komitas appeared as a performer and propagandist of Armenian music.

The composer began thinking over big, monumental musical forms. He had in mind to create the musical epic “Sasna tsrer” and continued working on the opera “Anush,” which he started back in 1904.

Komitas focused on the themes concerning folk music and revealed the content of folk songs. No doubt, such world outlook had to result in an inescapable conflict between Komitas and the Church. Gradually the indifference of new leaders, negative attitude of the backward group of the church figures, gossip and slander increased so much that it poisoned the life of the composer: the man who remained in the imagination of the contemporaries as an absolutely worldly man.

The conflict turned so tense that Komitas sent a letter to the Catholicos begging him to release him and let him create and live quietly. This request remained unanswered, and the persecution of Komitas became more obvious.

In 1910 Komitas left Etchmiadzin and went to Constantinople. There he expected to find the environment that would understand him, protect him, and encourage his activity; and here he would be able to fulfill his dreams. Komitas wanted to establish a National Conservatory with which he connected the further destiny of his people’s music. But the composer failed to accomplish this plan (as well as many others). His inspired ideas were only faced with the cold indifference of the local authorities.

In Constantinople Komitas organized a mixed choir of 300 men and called it “Gousan.” It was very popular. Armenian folk songs constituted most of its concerto program.

Komitas would often spend his time touring, giving presentations and lectures; he also acted as a soloist and conductor. He had the baritone, original for its richness and expressiveness. Due to the wide range of his voice Komitas could also sing part of the tenor. He also wonderfully mastered the flute and the piano. He was endowed with great power to influence his audience.

The well-known musicians Vincent D’Andy, Gabriel Fore, Camille Sen-Sans fell in love with Komitas’ creative work.

In 1906 after one of the concertos the outstanding French composer Claude Debussi exclaimed excitedly: “Brilliant father Komitas! I bow before your musical genius!”

In Constantinople Komitas could not find any unconditional like-minded people who would help him implement his plans. Moreover, while in Etchmiadzin he was together with his native people and close to its living style and art, in Constantinople he was deprived of it. Nevertheless, he continued to work hard. Komitas paid special attention to the composition of church music. His masterpiece “Patarag” (“Liturgy”) is written for the male chorus.

Musicology was also an important field for him. In Paris at the Conference of the International Music Society he gave two presentations: “Armenian Folk Music” and “On Old and New Notation of Armenian Spiritual Music.” These provoked great interest among the participants of the conference. Komitas was also requested to give a spontaneous presentation on the topic: “On Time, Place, Accentuation and Rhythm of Armenian Music.”

In the period of World War I the government of Young Turks initiated their monstrous program on violent and inhumane extermination of part of the Armenian people. In April 1915, Komitas was arrested together with the number of outstanding Armenian writers, publicists, physicians, and lawyers. After the arrest, accompanied by violence, he was deported far in Anatolia where he became a witness of the brutal extermination of the nation’s bright minds. And in spite of the fact that due to the intervention of influential figures Komitas was returned to Constantinople, the nightmare he had experienced left a deep ineradicable impression on his soul. Komitas remained in seclusion from the outer world, absorbed in his gloomy and heavy thoughts – sad and broken.

In 1916 Komitas’ health deteriorated and he was put in a psychiatric hospital. However, there was no hope that he would recover. The medicine was powerless against the destructive disease.

The genius of Armenian music found his final shelter in Paris, in the suburban sanatorium Vil-Jouif where he spent almost 20 years of his life.

On the 22nd of October the life of the Great Komitas came to an end. In the spring of 1936 his remains were transported to Armenia and buried in Yerevan – in the Pantheon of prominent art figures. 



Source Panorama.am
Share |
Տեքստում սխալ կամ վրիպակ նկատելու դեպքում, ուղարկեք խմբագրին հաղորդագրություն` նշելով տվյալ սխալը, այնուհետև սեղմելով Ctrl-Enter:

Newsfeed

14:34
Joe Biden hails the Armenian Genocide resolution passed by US Senate
Democratic presidential candidate, former US Vice President Joe Biden hailed the passage of the Armenian Genocide resolution in the US Senate on...
13:32
Zelensky to pay official visit to Azerbaijan
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky will be on an official visit to Azerbaijan on December 16-17, the president’s press service said...
13:11
Restored Armenian church hosts first liturgy in Syria’s Aleppo
Armenian church of Forty Martyrs Cathedral opened its doors to prayers for the first liturgy since its restoration began four years age, Ria...
12:38
Wizz Air launches cheap flights to Vienna and Vilnius from Armenia
Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air will launch new flight connections from Armenia, Andras Rado, Corporate Communications Manager at the carries...
11:34
Erdogan threatens to recognize Genocide of native Americans
The Turkish president threatened Sunday to recognize mass killings of Native Americans during the colonial period as genocide after the US...
11:15
Council session of the National Security Service held in Yerevan
The Council of the Armenian National Security Service (NSS) held a session on Monday chaired by Interim Director of the country’s National...
10:48
Australia bushfires: 20 more buildings, homes destroyed overnight
Up to 20 buildings, including homes, have been destroyed overnight by the bushfires that continue to rage through New South Wales in Australia....
10:25
Some roads are difficult to pass in Armenia
Some roads are difficult to pass in the territory of Armenia as of 08:30 on December 16, the ministry of emergency situations reported on...
20:00
Air temperature to gradually go up by 5-7 degrees
No precipitation is predicted on 1December 4-19 in the territory of Armenia, Hydromet meteorological service reported. South-western wind speed...
19:22
Jubilee event dedicated to Sos Sargsyan’s 90th anniversary to be held in Yerevan
“Sos Sargsyan” Cultural Foundation with the support of the RA Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport as well as Yerevan...
18:38
Former Sudan president Bashir sentenced to two years in detention for corruption
A Sudanese court on Saturday convicted former president Omar al-Bashir on corruption charges and sentenced him to two years of detention in a...
18:00
Thousands join biggest protest for years in Thai capital
Thousands of people joined Bangkok’s biggest protest since a 2014 coup on Saturday (Dec 14), after authorities in Thailand moved to ban a...
16:54
Expert warns authorities against the rising propaganda war of Azerbaijan
“The propaganda war launched by Azerbaijan is active in all directions and involves equally state, expert and media platforms,”...
15:40
Baku’s ‘strategic patience’ should be countered by a policy of ‘asymmetric strategic exhaustion’ – Vardan Voskanyan
“The foreign minister of Baku’s authoritarian regime actually threatens with the so called ‘strategic patience’ which is...
14:55
Expert says Armenia should prepare for snap parliamentary elections next year
Political scientist Stepan Danielyan stressed the need to prepare for snap parliamentary elections in Armenia next year. “2020 will be...
14:46
MP: Armenian authorities 'tearing down' revolution
"We reject the former authorities unconditionally, but at the same time we are concerned about the policies pursued by the current...
13:57
Trump: 'I'll do whatever I want' during Senate impeachment trial
President Trump said Friday that he hasn’t decided whether to wage a long or short impeachment defense in the U.S. Senate, but either way,...
13:42
Artsakh reports more Azerbaijani ceasefire violations
Azerbaijani military breached the ceasefire along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan Line of Contact around 140 times in the past week. In the period...
13:24
Paylan: Only Turkish parliament can heal Armenians’ wounds
Istanbul-Armenian MP Garo Paylan representing the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) took to Twitter to weigh in on the US...
12:58
Colin Firth and Livia Giuggioli announce separation after 22 years of marriage
Colin Firth and wife Livia Giuggioli are separating after 22 years of marriage, according to their reps. The couple's publicists Luke...
12:47
UNICEF: 166 million children globally remain unregistered
The number of children whose births are officially registered has increased significantly worldwide, yet 166 million children under-five, or 1...
12:23
Armenia Airways launches Yerevan-Anapa flights
The Armenia Airways operated the first flight from Yerevan to Anapa on December 12, Anapa Airport said in a statement, according to TASS....
11:59
Turkish parliament condemns US Senate's Armenian Genocide vote
Turkey’s parliament on Friday hit back at the United States Senate over a resolution recognizing and condemning the 1915 Armenian...
11:44
Concert honoring Komitas held at Rome church
A concert marking the 150th birthday anniversary of renowned Armenian composer and priest Komitas was held at Basilica of Santa Maria in...
11:00
'I don't feel like a role model': Finland's new 34-year-old leader
She may be the world’s youngest-serving head of government, but Finland’s newly appointed prime minister does not feel like a role...
10:51
Armenian Church commemorates St. James of Nisibis and others
The Armenian Apostolic Church pays tribute on Saturday, December 14, Pontiff St. James of Nisibis, hermit St. Maruge and Bishop St. Mellitus,...
10:34
Saturday morning update on road conditions
Some roadways are difficult to pass in Armenia as of 8:30am Saturday, the Ministry of Emergency Situations reported. Sotk-Karvachar highway...
20:30
22 road accidents registered in Armenia, 23 injured over the past day
According to the operations reports of Police of Armenia, 43 cases of crime were detected by officers of various police subdivisions in the...
20:19
Air temperature will gradually go up over the coming days
No precipitation is predicted in the territory of Armenia on December 14-18, Hydromet meteorological service reported on Friday. South-western...
20:00
Armenian boxers claim two medals at Khanty-Mansiysk international tournament
Armenian boxers took two medals at International Tournament “XVI World Cup of Petroleum Countries” in Russia’s...

Follow us and get updates!

Most popular articles

{"core.blocks.header.spell_message1":"Selected mistake: ","core.blocks.header.spell_message2":"Send a message about the mistake?"}