Sourp Komidas Vartabed

From the book "The Genius Of Gomidas" by His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian Patriarch of Jerusalem

The Immortal Gomidas

We [Armenians] have this miraculous Gomidas. The Holy Gomidas. The Saint. The voice and the soul of Gomidas will continue to resound in the life of our people from ages unto the ages

His Eminence Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem


.....Imagine the impression on the audience when the entire chorus expresses all the nuances of these songs. This is the essence of Gomidas, the genius of the Armenian spirit. He will live eternally in the bosom of his people's immortal soul.

To think that Gomidas fulfilled all this in just twenty years, until that unfortunate date in 1915 when he became one of those who on April 24, was carried away on the road to genocide. The only fortuitous occurrence for Gomidas was the intervention whereby he was called back to Constantinople. However, he had already seen the suffering of his friends - artists, writers, doctors and leaders of the nation - who on the same night of April 24 were rounded up and deported to the desert to be massacred.

Those scenes, those tortures, which he had witnessed with his own eyes, were enough for him to lose himself, his identity, his essence. Henceforth, Gomidas did not speak. Gomidas did not sing. Therefore, Gomidas died in 1915. He was taken to a sanatorium in Paris and lived there for twenty years without creating, without writing even one line. This is the real genocide. That is why I say whoever kills Gomidas, whatever race which drives Gomidas to insanity, is a criminal individual, a criminal race.

In 1935 Gomidas' soul was released from the fetters of his body, and yet he did not die. In 1936, Gomidas' remains were returned to his homeland. There Gomidas lives among his own people, amidst all the generations. I believe that the new musicians of Armenia continue the work of Gomidas. Gomidas has said: "In our estimation, to harmonize the Armenian folk songs one must be knowledgeable with the Armenian people's historical, natural, and national conditions; the melodic structure, spirit, system; the meaning of words; our popular versification; the people's style of singing, of pronunciation; and a few other areas, and then undertake to harmonize and to publish, otherwise, something will always be missing ". This is the word of the erudite musician, Gomidas, the complete musician, who became on the one hand a theorist, a collector, and on the other hand a performer, a solo vocalist, a choral conductor, and a composer. It is this accomplished Gomidas that we have; and no one will be able to snatch him from us. For that reason he will remain immortal in our people's soul, just as our people's soul is immortal, and he will remain ingenious, just as our people's soul is ingenious.

Much effort has been expended so that no relic of Gomidas be lost. Robert Atayan will always be worthy of our gratitude for studying Gomidas' archives. And the Yerevan government, in Soviet Armenia, has published in many volumes whatever was possible to be saved. There we see the genius of Gomidas, who dotes on every single line, on every single note. He attempted various harmonizations of the same original melody, each depicting various nuances of potential emotions, feelings, dormant in the layers of poetic phrases and sentences, which need to be unfolded through vocal and instrumental expressions.

We have this miraculous Gomidas. This Holy Gomidas. The SAINT. And the voice and soul of Gomidas will continue to resound in the life of our people from ages unto the ages.

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