On 29th of January in Yerevan was opened the museum-institute of Komitas, one of famouse figures of Armenian musical culture.
The president of Armenia and the Chairman of the State Commission on Coordination of the events for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Serzh Sargsyan, attended the opening of the Komitas Museum-Institute at the Komitas Park. Under the President’s proposal, the resolution to build the museum was passed by the Board of Trustees of Hayastan All Armenian Fund on May 30, 2013. Prior to the opening of the museum, Serzh Sargsyan, in company with the state commission members and guests visited the Komitas Pantheon and placed flowers at Vardapet’s tomb.
The Armenian President congratulated everybody on the opening of the museum-institute, extended his thanks to all the persons who have contributed to the implementation of this important initiative and after touring the museum and familiarizing with various displays, wrote in the book of honorary guests: “The Komitas Museum-Institute is the symbol of the unity and revival of the Armenian people. Komitas Vardapet joined together what is spiritual and worldly, noble and peasant, Western Armenian and Eastern Armenian, thus proving the artificial nature of those, as well as many other dividing lines. By this, he became the pioneer and guarantor of the new march of the Armenian people as genocide survivors, highlighting and passing on a huge layer of civilization to us.
I am glad that owing to this museum, the unexampled legacy of Komitas can now become a subject of systematic study and wide recognition both in Armenia and worldwide. Komitas is the living part of our cultural life who continues to lead us through the complex crossraods of the third millenium now.
The opening of the Komitas Museum-Institute is an important event for our country and our people.”
Soghomon Soghomonian,ordained and commonly known as Komitas,(Armenian: Կոմիտաս; 26 September 1869 – 22 October 1935) was an Armenian priest, musicologist, composer, arranger, singer, and choirmaster, who is considered the founder of Armenian national school of music.He is recognized as one of the pioneers of ethnomusicology.
Orphaned at a young age, Komitas was taken to Etchmiadzin, Armenia’s religious center, where he received education at theGevorgian Seminary. Following his ordination as vardapet (celibate priest) in 1895, he studied music at the Frederick William University in Berlin. He thereafter “used his Western training to build a national tradition”. He collected and transcribed over 3,000 pieces of Armenian folk music, more than half of which were subsequently lost and only around 1,200 are now extant. Besides Armenian folk songs, he also showed interested in other cultures and in 1904 published the first-ever collection of Kurdish folk songs. His choir presented Armenian music in many European cities, earning the praise of Claude Debussy, among others. Komitas settled in Constantinople in 1910 to escape mistreatment by ultra-conservative clergymen at Etchmiadzin and to introduce Armenian folk music to wider audiences. He was widely embraced by Armenian communities, while Arshag Chobanian called him the “savior of Armenian music”.
During the Armenian Genocide—along with hundreds of other Armenian intellectuals—Komitas was arrested and deported to aprison camp in April 1915 by the Ottoman government. He was soon released under unclear circumstances and experienced a mental breakdown and developed a severe case of Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The widespread hostile environment in Constantinople and reports of mass-scale Armenian death marches and massacres that reached him further worsened his fragile mental state. He was first placed in a Turkish military-operated hospital until 1919 and then transferred to psychiatric hospitals in Paris, where he spent the last years of his life in agony. Komitas is widely seen as a martyr of the genocide and has been depicted as one of the main symbols of the Armenian Genocide in art.