Events From Komidas Vartabed's Life
From the book: Kragan Nshkhark Gomidas Vartabedi Peghoun Krchen - by Apel Vartabed Oghloukian
During an interview with Komidas Vartabed in 1914 in Constantinople (Bolis) upon his return from Paris, where he introduced the Armenian Music ( Armenian Church and folk music) to the International Music Association. In response to a question by the interviewer 'what were their impressions?' the following excerpt was his reply:
"Before my revelations about the Armenian spiritual and folk music, it was a novelty in particular to those who last year were still ignorant or refused the existence of a specific Armenian music. Many who had a superficial opinion, after the lectures were the first to acknowledge that the Armenian music represents a high artistic value, purer than that of other people's and nobler than that of other eastern nationality's music. The great music masters, when I was finalizing my lectures, could not control their surprise and admiration being presented to this foreign music, which not only was a novelty for them but a stupefying one as well.
It was interesting for me too that what would be their impression about a music which up till now judging from bad samples, they regarded it as weak, sad and melancholy. While the Armenian music, not only is not weak and sad, but in its entirety is a force and a vitality, and within it in effect nourishes a philosophy, the real spirit of its race, as music is the clearest mirror of that race, the most authentic and lively in all its expressions, alive as much as the liveliness of its race, forceful as much as the people who gave birth to it."
In 1913 Komidas Vartabed meets the Catholicos Kevork - V in Puragan.
The Catholicos: "Ha, well, father Komidas, it's been said in Bolis (Constantinople) that you are a man of great honour, your work is very successful, a lot of gold (money) is being given to you; when are you leaving? Certainly that is very good for you.
Komidas Vartabed: Offended and disgusted I was about to lose my mind. Nervously I replied short and brief, "today I came tomorrow I leave."
The well known Russian composer Mekhail Knesin pays a visit to Komidas Vartabed, who was recommended by Makkidi, the researcher of old Jewish notes, to request illustrations from Komidas for the possible exchange of correlation of the Jewish and Armenian tunes.
Mikhail Knesin: "Discussing with Komidas, I felt the serious scientific gentleness of human incantation. Only by being acquainted very late to Komidas' creations, I was convinced how great was his talent, how eminent a composer, how interesting and creative a tutor he is."
June 9, 1914 Paris
The Blumental Brothers, through Armenian newspapers, had a announcement to the public about a merchandise of gramophone records. They were about few religious songs sung by Armenak Shahmouradian with the musical accompaniment of Komidas Vartabed.
Several backward minded clergymen considering it as desecration, raise a protest to the Religious Assembly which consequently takes the following decision:
"Having observed that Der Komidas Vartabed has put for sale, Armenian Church's own, and appropriated to the Church of God's sacred songs, which are sung everywhere by means of gramophone, especially in improper places that harm religious emotions, decided to convey to the Holy Patriarch, to suitably dispose his obligation and request from the Holy Catholicos to make an observation to Der Komidas Vartabed for a clergyman's totally unseemly behavior."
After about three weeks time, in the newspaper "Puzantion" in Constantinople, an article is printed by Arshag Chobanian under the title "A Non-Religious Decision" where he writes: "The decision of the Religious Assembly was the most unreligious of the decisions. Religion, if we accept it not in the meaning to pertain priests, deacons, shopkeepers, but in it's philosophical and genuine meaning, it is no other thing but a faith of supreme innocence and beauty. The decision of the Religious Assembly is a blasphemy against beauty and is devoid of innocence's last glimpse &..
11-24 April, 1915 Costantinople
Komidas Vartabed together with Siamanto, Taniel Varoujan and other intellectuals were exiled by the Young Turks to the depths of Anatolia. The fear and the sufferance during the exile and the massacre of the Armenians, the lively being of this great artist was badly shaken. Through mediation, he is returned from the exile.
Vartan Bedoyan writes in his memoirs:
"It was the first day of school. We were getting to start school work&.. How great a happiness and a surprise it was when at school we heard the return of Komidas and his reappointment as 'song and music teacher' in the National Centre school.
The thought of seeing Komidas again stirred our emotions with a sweet dream&&
Here he is, Komidas is coming, and our eyes focused on him. Komidas, that person with the phantom's attitude, smiling, lively, joking, delightful with the students. His head hanging low, melancholy with a skeleton face, several of his teeth smashed, who knows from which Turk's bestial blow, saluted us and without a smile entered the school"
Beginning of 1916
In the period of the beginning of Komidas Vartabed's illness, Asdvadzadour Harents
the friend almost inseparable from him, relates the following:
" Already the symptoms of his illness were showing and Dr. Torkomian in association with Dr. Konosi, guarded him and did various treatments.
At the end of spring, he was good. At the beginning of summer I proposed to host him in our house on the island. Both mentioned friend doctors said it was proper and useful. In the summer of 1916, Komidas Vartabed spent three months with us, and his condition was really good. There he had to again take notes and compose dances.
At the beginning of autumn&. We were back in Kadikoy island. He used to come from Pera to spend with us two or three days a week. We allocated Fridays for long promenades where he had this infantlike unending joyfulness; we usually used to sing duets. In September his condition seemed to change, every week his joyousness little by little diminished, I especially remember his last week's visit, he had a dissatisfaction and anger towards the sun, he who when on the island, enjoyed the sunrise blissfully. The last Friday when he was with us, in the evening we were waiting for him to come down from his room for supper, suddenly with dashing steps he came down running, went charging out into the street to the direction of the wharf. Naturally I also accompanied him. When we reached in front of the church, he went in, let the door of the church be opened, went forward and kneeling down started praying tearfully. I escorted him back to Pera, his house, where Dr. Torkomian and Dr. Konosi, after consultation, transferred him right away to Shishli."
Costantinople 1919 Komidas Vartabed was taken to the sanatoriums in the suburbs of Ville-Evrard then transferred to Ville-Juif in Paris.
In March 1919 in the sanatorium in Paris, the photographer Panos Terlemezian pays a visit to Komidas. In his memoirs he writes:I spoke with him about his students; he was happy that they came to Paris to study. I asked him:
Terlemezian: "Is the Armenian music good or the European?
"Komidas (Angrily) "brother, do you want the taste of a peach from an apricot? Each one has it's
-I asked him, do you sing?
-He said yes
-I said dear Komidas, sing something for me.
Komidas: "No, I am singing now for me and very slow."
After about half an hour talk, suddenly he was restless, opened the door, leaned against the glass window and did not speak again.
In 1935 October 21, Komidas Vartabed dies in the psychiatric hospital in Paris.
In 1936, the remains of Komidas Vartabed is transferred to Yerevan and placed in the Armenian Pantheon.
The funeral oration from Avedik Isahakian, (the poet):
Today and always you are and will be with us with your magnificent songs, with your towering arts, your admirable historic work. You are immortal. So long as the Armenian people lives, will also live with your songs. But you are very tired dear Komidas, you suffered a lot; you carried many frights, you have seen the sword of the ferocious enemy. Rest now, you are in the bosom of the genuine soil of your motherland. Your loving song of the aromatic plain of Ararat is looming around you, your songs are rippling upon you.
Rest in peace dear Komidas, divine Komidas."