GOMIDAS VARTABED - (or KOMITAS) (1869- 1935)
The most renowned Armenian Churchman and musician of modern times was Gomidas Vartabed,(or Komitas). He was born Soghomon Soghomonian in Keutahya, Asia Minor in 1869. In 1896, Soghomon was ordained a monk or "apegha" of the Armenian Church. A few years later he was ordained a "Vartabed", and assumed his new name "Komitas"(or Gomidas).
Komitas wrote over three thousand songs in Armenian, Arabic, Kurdish, and Persian. His main contribution was to rediscover Armenian folk music. He spent years traveling throughout the provinces and visiting many villages listening to native songs and dances, and making notes of them for further analysis. His work in arranging and collating the folk music he had collected over the years eventually became excellent songs for chorus music, and made the public aware of the existence of true Armenian music.
He was the first non-European to be a member of the International Music Society. Komitas performed concerts in Paris, Geneva, Berne, Constantinople, Venice, and Alexandria. It is interesting to note that in the spring of 1915, during the imprisonment of leaders of the Armenian community, Komitas too was taken into custody. Through the efforts of Henry Morgenthau, Ambassador from the United States of America, and the Turkish poet Mehmet Emin Yurdakul, who admired Komitas' work, Komitas was released.
After the April 24, 1915 massacres of the Armenian people by the Turks, he succumbed to mental and physical anguish and never fully recovered. Komitas lived as if a walking corpse for the next twenty years. The revered holy man died in Paris on October 22, 1935 in a mental hospital.
GOMIDAS STRING QUARTET
Was Founded in Moscow in November 1924 by four talented Armenian students of Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory: Avet Gabrielyan - 1st violin, Levon Ogandjanyan - 2nd violin, Michael Terian - viola, Sergey Aslamazian - cello, the oldest performing quartet in the world. Made first public performance in February 1925.