Gomidas Vartabed is an ‘Armenian Cultural and Musical Icon’

Gomidas (or Komitas) Vartabed (meaning Priest in Armenian)

He was born in Turkey in 1869 as Soghomon Kevork Soghomonian.  His parents were very musically talented.  His mother died when he was a year old, and 10 years later his father also passed away.  He as an orphan was sent to St. Etchmiadzin Seminary to study where he was ordained as a Monk in 1890.  Then in 1893, he was ordained a ‘Vartabed’ (priest).  This is when he was given the name Gomidas, the  name of the outstanding poet of 7th Century.  He showed such terrific talent of music both writing it and making collections of ‘Folk Armenian music’.  Also he wrote numerous  church liturgy musical pieces.  He left for Berlin to study under Richard Schmidt.  In 1899, he acquired the Title of Doctor of Musicology and returned to Etchmiadsin, the very First Christian Church in the World.  He was the 1st non-European to be admitted into the International Music Society.  He had many lectures and performances throughout Europe, Turkey,  and Egypt where they did not have any Armenian music before. French composer Claude De-bussy declared that Gomidas is a ‘Music Genius’ because he paid high  tribute to Gomidas’ talent.

Gomidas was one of the talents that  was on the line of persecution during the Armnian Genocide when it started April 24, 1915.  He was saved from the others by a Turkish poet friend Emin Yurdakul, and the US Ambassador in Turkey, Henry Morgenthau  Sr. from the slaughter of the Turkish massacres.  However, it was much  grief for him to see all the tortures; thus he ended up in a Paris sanatorium.  And after years of depression , he died in 1935.  In 1936, his remains were transported to Armenia and buried in Yerevan in the Pantheon of prominent figures.

His works were first printed in Paris in 1933.  And he was recorded in a digital media in 1988 in Yerevan, and today the Music Academy in Yerevan is named after Gomidas.

Here is such an example.

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