Komitas Vardapet is the rarest talent of Armenia, widely known and recognized throughout the world as one of the founders of ethnomusicology. There is quite a lot to know and study about this brilliant composer.
Komitas Vardapet is an Armenian Priest, musicologist and composer. Komitas’s input in revealing Armenian national music treasures and intruding it to the world is incomparable.
He was the one who rediscovered Armenian national classic folk songs and music. He was the first who could transcribe Armenian folk song and let people reappreciate their true value.
Thanks to Komitas ancient Armenian folk songs were preserved till our days and now they can be easily played on piano on other musical instruments.
Continue reading and you’ll know more interesting facts about Komitas’s life and works.
Komitas Vardapet: The Greatest Talent of the Armenian Nation
Early Years of Komitas’s Life
Komitas (Soghomon Soghomonyan) was born on 26 September 1869.
At a very early age he lost both of his parents. He was only one year old when his mother died. Komitas studied in the local school and after graduating the 4-year local school he continued his study in Bursa.
The study in Bursa was left unfinished after his father’s death. Orphaned Komitas continues his study in Etchmiadzin thanks to his excellent vocal skills. When the Seminary of Etchiadzin was seeking a young and talented child for their choir, Komitas appeared to be lucky enough to be chosen from other children.
Later, sharing with his early memories, Komitas said that this was the luckiest thing ever happened to him. In other case, he would remain in his birthplace his whole life and would become a shoemaker.
During the years spent in Etchmiadzin, Komitas explored Armenian culture much closer. He got especially profound knowledge of Armenian literature and history. However, there was another thing which impressed him the most: Armenian folk music and songs.
Komitas worked as a music teacher in Etchmiadzin. There he gave piano lessons to younger students and later was appointed as the choirmaster.
The years of Etchmiadzin were just the start of the career of this brilliant Armenian composer, who had so much to tell the world with his art.
Komitas travelled a lot, he always wanted to find something new to study. He had travelled to Berlin, Tiflis and Constantinople. There he had opportunity to enrich his knowledge and become known.
Komitas and Armenian Music: His Role is Incomparable
The input of Komitas in Armenian national folk music is undeniable. He used to spend hours and days in Armenian villages and collect various folk songs and transcribe them into the notes.
There were out 3000 Armenian songs transcribed by Komitas Vardapet. Unfortunately, the great part of them was destroyed during Armenian massacres in 1915.
Komitas was the one who realized the uniqueness of Armenian cultural music heritage and introduced it with completely other side unknown for others.
The talent of Komitas impressed even such world fames as Claude Debussy, who claimed about his rare talent and was deeply impressed by Komitas.
Being a church servant Komitas never considered it enough, he had a passionate interest and love towards the national folk songs of his country. Travelling to countryside, he formed unique, friendly relations with villagers. They shared their knowledge of national folk songs with great enthusiasm.
Komitas used to gather all these pieces together and then transcribe them. Thanks to his hard work, Armenian national songs are preserved till our days. His main aim had always been to bring fame and appreciation to national Armenian folk songs.
Komitas Faced Armenian Genocide
Unfortunately, the life of Komitas was full of tragedies. The heartbreaking story of his life doesn’t let anybody indifferent. Being such a devoted composer who did his best for preserving culture of his country, he had a horrifying end of his life, full of tears and blood.
Komitas was one of those thinkers who were arrested on 24 April, 1915 by Ottoman Empire during massacres of Armenians. During this period Komitas has seen quite a lot of terrible scenes such as; starving children, death marches, murders in the most dreadful ways.
This was too much for Komitas’s fragile soul. Komitas’s Turkish friends managed to get him out of death march and rescue him thanks to their connections with Turkish government.
Though Komitas was rescued, seeing all that dreadful genocide scenes caused him mental problem, which unfortunately wasn’t healed anymore.
In 1916 Komitas was taken to Constantinople hospital, and later taken to Paris hospital against his will. After witnessing Armenian Genocide, Komitas was never able to work again.
This composer never played piano, gathered songs anymore. Komitas died in psychiatric clinic of Villejuif in Paris 1935.
His ashes were transferred to Yerevan next year. Komitas is buried in the Pantheon of Yerevan, which is named after him.
Take a Look at the Most Impressing Composition of Komitas
The heritage that Komitas Vardapet left for Armenia is undeniably huge. Mentioning everything will be impossible, but we want you to take a look at some of them.
We chose 4 wonderful compositions. This is Armenian music, this is what Armenian national folk is all about! By listening to Komitas, you’re listening to the ancient Armenian history and culture!
Komitas Composition #1: Horovel
“Horovel” is a rural song which is sung during the tilling of the soil. Armenian villagers used to sing this kind of song to cheer up the animals and peasants and make the working process enjoyable.
Songs like “Horovel” have never been written, they were passed from generation to generation orally. Komitas wrote down this song and proved how unique it was. The story how Komitas discovered this song is rather unique.
It is said that once Komitas visited one of the villagers who used to know everything about rural songs. Komitas asked him to sing “Horovel”, however the villager rejected. In the morning when Komitas was already about to leave, he heard how the villager was singing the song and working.
He wrote down it fast and later asked the villager why he rejected to sing it the day before. The villager answered that when Komitas asked it was already evening and his ox was already tired. If he had sung the song it would seem to ox that it was already time to work, that’s why he didn’t sing it.
Komitas Composition #2: Krunk
The song Krunk is a medieval song by unknown artist. The word krunk is translated as crane. This bird has always been associated with longing and love towards the country.
The song became especially actual after the Armenian Genocide, when number of people lost their homes and were never been able to come back to their motherland.
The song is exceptional piece of art. The heartbreaking melody improved by Komitas is one of the symbolic songs of Armenia.
The song has a wide fame and was translated into various languages. You can easily find “Krunk” played on piano, violin, cello etc.
Komitas Composition #3: Chinar es
There is so much beauty and tenderness in this song that listening to the melody and the lyrics will definitely give you goosebumps.
It is one of the most popular songs even among younger generation.
Komitas Composition #4: Kaqavik
Komitas also gathered songs for kids. This positive song is also another national Armenian folk song which is widely loved song among Armenians.
It is often used on TV for different TV program transitions. You can hardly find someone in Armenia who don’t know or like this song.
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