22 April 2003, 02:49

Komitas

Real surname, name, and patronymic - Sogomonyan, Sogomon Gevorkovich. Armenian composer, scientist, choir conductor, and public figure.

Born September 26, 1869, in the town of Kurtana, Western Armenia. Became an orphan at a young age. Since 1881, studied in a clerical seminary and clerical academy in Echmiadzin. Started fine arts attempts in 1890. In 1891, Ararat magazine published his National Anthem. In 1893, upon graduation from the academy, was appointed a music teacher and choirmaster of the Echmiadzin Cathedral. In 1894, was consecrated into the holy orders, receiving the name of prominent Armenian poet, musician, and anthem creator of 7th century Catholicos Komitas. In 1896-1899, studied the music history and music theory in Berlin. Since 1899, lived in Echmiadzin, taught music classes and led the choir of the clerical academy. He composed poems, songs, and religious anthems. He also managed to decode khazy (ancient Armenian musical notes) and restore ancient religious chants.

As a member of International Music Society, Komitas performed with the choirs of Koloin and Lamouriet and lectures on Armenian folk songs and spiritual chants in Switzerland (Geneva, Lausanne, Zurich, Bern) and in the halls of Berlin, Paris, Yerevan, Tiflis, and Baku.

Due to a conflict with conservative church circles, moved to Constantinople in 1910 where he founded a large cappella Gusan of 300 people. The Cappella's concert on October 25, 1913, dedicated to the 1500th anniversary of inventing Armenian alphabet and 400th anniversary of Armenian book printing, was a remarkable cultural event. The world press noted high professionalism of the Cappella.

In 1915, not being able to withstand the nightmare of Armenians' genocide carried out by the Turkey's government, arrests and deaths of close friends, and his own arrest, Komitas succumbed to a heavy mental disease. Since 1919, lived in Paris, where he deceased on October 22, 1935, in a mental hospital. Later, Komitas's ashes was transported to Yerevan and buried in the Pantheon of Armenia's cultural workers.

Komitas is a classic of Armenian music, a master of choir polyphony, and a founder of Armenian scientific ethnography. Collector and researcher of folk songs, Komitas has left collections containing typical samples of centuries-old creative works of the Armenian people. Komitas's articles contributed to the methodology of folklore studies. Komitas's national works, predominantly vocal and based on national material processing, are bright; they are one of special pages of the 20th century's classical music history. Komitas's activities facilitated the development of national composition school. Yerevan Conservatoire was named after Komitas in 1948.

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