Archive for the ‘the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)’ Category

THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

 ParseghGanachian

Death of Parsegh Ganachian
(May 24, 1967)

 

The best known of Gomidas Vartabed’s “five disciples” and an accomplished composer and choirmaster himself, Parsegh Ganachian is also known as the author of the arrangement for the Armenian national anthem “Mer Hayrenik.”

He was born in Rodosto (Oriental Thrace, today in Turkey) on April 17, 1885. He was the son of a shoemaker, and at the age of three, his family moved to Constantinople, where he received his primary education at the elementary school of Gedikpasha. During the massacres of 1896, the Ganachians moved to Varna, in Bulgaria, where the young Parsegh continued his studies at the local Armenian school and studied music theory, violin, and conducting with violinist Nathan Bey Amirkhanian. The family moved again in 1905, this time to Bucharest (Romania), where Ganachian continued his studies of violin and he also took upon piano studies with composer Georges Bouyouk.

After the restoration of the Ottoman Constitution in 1908, Ganachian returned to Constantinople, where he founded the first Armenian orchestra, “Knar.” His encounter with Gomidas in December 1910 and the concert of the 300-strong “Kusan” choir in early 1911 were crucial for his career. He entered Gomidas choir. The great musician selected eighteen members of the choir as his students, and the number gradually diminished to five, of which one of them was Ganachian.

The future composer was drafted by the Ottoman army in World War I and played in the military orchestra until he was exiled to Diarbekir, where he fell gravely ill. He was sent to Aleppo, and he was there when the armistice was signed in November 1918. Along with other surviving intellectuals, Ganachian gathered young people and organized concerts to the benefit of the exiles, creating a wave of enthusiasm in the audiences. At that time, he composed the “Volunteer March” (Կամաւորական քայլերգ/ Gamavoragan kaylerk), better known as “Harach, Nahadag” by the first words of its lyrics, written by poet Kevork Garvarentz. He later went to Cilicia, where he also gave concerts, and then returned to Constantinople.

In the Ottoman capital, the Gomidas students organized a group and presented concerts, created a Gomidas Fund and published Gomidas’ works in three songbooks. They also organized choirs and dealt with the education of the new generation. Ganachian composed his well known “Lullaby” (Օրոր/Oror) for soloist and choir.

The Gomidas’ students were sent to Paris to continue their musical education. Going to the French capital in 1921, Ganachian followed the courses of famous composer René Lenormand (1846-1932). Between 1922 and 1932 he toured Aleppo, Egypt, and Cyprus, forming choirs and giving choral concerts. From 1926-1930 he also taught music at the Melkonian Educational Institute. In 1932 he settled in Beirut, teaching at the College Armenien or Jemaran (later the Neshan Palandjian College). In 1933 he organized and directed the choir “Kusan,” which achieved great success in both Armenian and Lebanese circles from 1933-1946. The choir also had presentations in other Lebanese and Syrian cities, as well as in Egypt. It continued its activities until 1961.

Ganachian maintained and promoted the musical principles enunciated by Gomidas, deeply entrenched in national roots. He composed 25 choral songs and orchestral fragments, as well as around 20 songs for children. He also arranged Armenian and Arabic folk songs. Among his most important compositions are the opera “The Monk,” with Levon Shant’s play The Ancient Gods as its libretto, and the cantata “Nanor,” which depicts the pilgrimage to the monastery of St. Garabed in Moush. He also produced arrangements for the Armenian anthem, as well as the Lebanese and Syrian national anthems (1936).

Ganachian lost his sight in 1945, but his choir continued its performances. His works were partly published in Beirut and Yerevan. Among other awards, he was awarded the National Order of the Cedar (1957) by the Lebanese government for his achievements in the cultural life of Lebanon.

The composer passed away on May 24, 1967, in Beirut. The Armenian cultural association Hamazkayin established an arts institute carrying his name in Lebanon. A school also bears Ganachian’s name in Yerevan.

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THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

 

QERI

Death of Keri
Քեռի (Արշակ Գավաֆյան)

(May 15, 1916)


Keri, a veteran leader of the Armenian liberation movement at the turn of the twentieth century, became also a prominent military figure in the last years of his life.

He was born Arshak Kavafian in 1858 in Erzerum, where he graduated from the local Armenian school. He was twenty-four when he entered the short lived self-defense organization “Defender of the Homeland,” founded in 1882. He adopted the pseudonym Keri, meaning “uncle.” He went to Kaghezvan, in the province of Kars (under Russian rule), in 1889 and unsuccessfully tried twice, in 1889-1890, to cross the Russian-Turkish border into Western Armenia with groups of fedayees. He became a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation soon after its foundation in 1890, and was active in the region of Kars from 1891-1892. In 1893 he finally was able to go to Erzerum with a group of freedom fighters, and in 1895 he led an armed group that protected the locals and the prelate during the Hamidian massacres.

In the early 1900s Keri was back in Kars under the command of the local A.R.F. committee. In 1903 he moved to the region of Sasun and participated in the Sasun uprising of 1904. After its defeat, he went to the region of Van and back to Eastern Armenian in 1905.

During the Armeno-Tatar conflict of 1905-1906, Keri was one of the leaders of the self-defense I in the region of Zangezur (Siunik), where he mostly fought in the front of Angeghagot. Afterwards, with fifteen years of fighting experience in both Ottoman and Russian empires, he went to Persia, where he fought alongside Yeprem Khan, one of the leaders of the Persian Constitutional Revolution, from 1908-1912. Yeprem was killed in battle in May 1912 and Kavafian had his killers liquidated, taking the leadership of the Caucasian troops until the end of the conflict late that year.

After the declaration of World War I, Keri joined the Armenian volunteer movement attached to the Russian army as the commander of the fourth battalion in 1914. He led his battalion in the battle of Sarikamish, between the Ottoman and Russian armies, in late 1914-early 1915. The courage of the Armenian soldiers and Keri’s military genius was crucial in the Russian victory.

Keri’s career came to an end on May 15, 1916, when he was on his way to Mosul. Surrounded by Turkish troops and separated from a Russian detachment, Keri led the charge of his soldiers in the middle of the night and was able to break the Turkish encirclement, but he was killed in the battle. His body was transferred to Tiflis and buried in the Armenian cemetery of Khojivank, along two other freedom fighters, Nikol Duman (1867-1914) and Mourad of Sepastia (1874-1918). A procession of 30,000 people participated in the burial. However, the cemetery was mostly leveled during Soviet times, and Keri’s tomb also disappeared. 

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THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)


Death of Cardinal
Gregorio Agagianian

(May 16, 1971)

Cardinal Gregorio Agagianian was the foremost Armenian figure of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century, and rose to world fame when in the papal elections of 1958 and 1963 he was about to become the first non-Italian head of the Church in almost 450 years.

Ghazaros Agagianian was born in Akhaltsikhe, in the historical region of Javakhk (now in Georgia), on September 18, 1895. His family was part of the local Armenian Catholic community. After studying at the seminary of Tiflis, he went to Rome, where he studied at the Urban College of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (now Pontifical Urbaniana University) and was ordained a priest in 1917 with the name of Gregorio (Krikor). He returned to Tiflis, where he did pastoral work from 1917-1921. Afterwards, he left Soviet Georgia and became a member of the faculty at the Pontifical Armenian College in Rome in 1921 and Rector of the same college from 1932-1937. He also taught at the Urban College from 1922-1932.

Meanwhile, he had been consecrated bishop on July 21, 1935, with a previous appointment as titular Bishop of Comana. The Armenian Synod elected him Patriarch Catholicos of the House of Cilicia on November 30, 1937, with the name of Krikor-Bedros XV.

In 1938, after an agreement of the French colonial authorities of Syria and Turkey, the sanjak of Alexandretta (later renamed Hatay) was annexed to the latter. The efforts of the Armenian community of Paris, Patriarch Agagianian, and the Vatican representative to Syria and Lebanon Remi Leprert allowed that many areas of Kessab inhabited by Armenians remained in Syria. In recent years, the Syrian government renamed one of the streets of Aleppo after Cardinal Agagianian to honor his efforts.

Agagianian was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Pius XII with the title of Cardinal-Priest of San Bartolomeo all’Isola in 1946. He participated in the papal conclave of 1958, following the death of Pius XII, and received a large number of votes, eventually approaching the majority needed for election. This was confirmed by Pope John XXIII, the elected pope.

John XXIII appointed Cardinal Agagianian as a member of the leading body of the Second Vatican Council, where he was a member of the presidency board from 1963-1965. Agagianian was Pro-Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith from 1958-1960 and full Prefect from 1960-1970. In 1962 he resigned from his position of Armenian Catholic Patriarch.

After the death of John XXIII, Agagianian participated in the conclave of 1963, which elected Pope Paul VI. He was rumored to have been actually elected, but declined to accept. In 1970 he was elevated to the order of Cardinal-Bishops as Cardinal-Bishop of Albano.

Seven months after this elevation, Cardinal Gregorio Aghagianian passed away in Rome on May 16, 1971, aged 75, from cancer. He was buried at the Armenian church of San Nicola da Tolentino, the same place where he was consecrated bishop thirty-six years earlier.

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THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

 

Godstantin

Death of Catholicos Gosdantin I of Partzerpert
(May 9, 1267)

 

Catholicos of All Armenians Gosdantin (Constantine) I’s long tenure, one of the longest in the history of the Catholicoi of the Armenian Church, was marked by complex historical issues.

The son of a certain Vahram, probably born in the 1180s, Gosdantin of Partzerpert or Mavrian was educated in the monastery of Mlij, near Tarsus (Cilicia), which was a renowned center of manuscript copying, and then in the fortress of Hromkla, the seat of the Catholicosate of All Armenians from 1203-1292.

The Kingdom of Cilicia was in turmoil after the death of King Levon I in 1219. His daughter Zabel, who was four at the time of his death, was the heir of the throne, under the regency of the powerful prince Gosdantin the Bailiff (son of Levon’s maternal uncle). To add more complications, in 1221 Hovhannes VI of Sis passed away. Although Gosdantin of Partzerpert was an ecclesiastic deserving such honor, according to the historians, it appears that the regent suggested or handpicked his namesake as successor to the late Catholicos. He is said to have been the bishop of Mlij, which was a monastery and not a diocese, and thus it is likely, according to Maghakia Ormanian, that he was the bishop of Partzerpert.

The marriage of Zabel to prince Philippe of Antioch in 1222 ended in a failure, since the Latinophile policy of the Catholic prince alienated him from the nobility, and the next year Philippe was imprisoned. He died in prison in 1225 or 1226, and Gosdantin the Bailiff decided to marry Zabel to his own son Hetum. Catholicos Gosdantin I married them, both aged eleven, in 1226. In 1252 he would preside over her funeral procession.

In the 1220s, during the first years of his pontificate, the construction of St. Sophia, the royal church of Sis, the capital of Cilicia, was finished. Gosdantin I led a policy tending to maintain the independence of the Armenian Church. Catholicos Gosdantin I was also a man of culture. He opened new schools, founded congregations, and encouraged the production of manuscripts, including works by famous miniaturist Toros Roslin. After 1236, Greater Armenia fell under Mongol domination. In 1242 the Catholicos participated in the first negotiations of the Cilician kingdom with the Mongols. In 1247 the Catholicos sent archimandrite Teotos to the local Mongol general and obtained his agreement to rebuild the monastery of St. Thaddeus in the region of Artaz and found a congregation.

Meanwhile, the situation of the church in Cilicia led Gosdantin to gather an assembly of Cilician bishops in 1243.The ecclesiastic assembly was held in Sis, but the representatives from Greater Armenia were not invited. The assembly approved rules for consecrations, priesthood, moral issues, and so on and so forth.The Catholicos could not accomplish his project of going to Armenia himself and obtaining the agreement of local ecclesiastics. In 1246 he sent historian Vartan Areveltsi to Greater Armenia with such a mission.

In 1254 archimandrite Hagop Klayetsi represented the Catholicos in negotiations with Byzantine emperor John Vadakes and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Manuel aimed at establishing a temporary reconciliation between Cilicia and Byzantium. In the 1260s Gosdantin I engaged in heated controversies with the papal legate in Cilicia and Pope Clement IV himself over doctrinal issues.

After a forty-six year reign, Catholicos Gosdantin I passed away in Hromkla on May 9, 1267, where he was buried. He was succeeded by Catholicos Hagop I Klayetsi.

 

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THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee

 AM008-15

Death of Panos Terlemezian
(April 30, 1941)

Both an artist and a patriot, Panos Terlemezian made a remarkable contribution to Armenian fine arts in the first half of the twentieth century. He was born in Van, in the Armenian-populated suburb of Aygestan, on March 3, 1865, the son of a farmer. His love for painting was born during his studies in the local elementary school and then in the Central College of Van (1881-1886).

He graduated with honors and, afterwards, he taught drawing, aesthetics, and geography in the schools of Van from 1886-1889. Meanwhile, he became a member of the first Armenian political party, the Armenagan Organization, formed in Van. In 1890 he was arrested on charges of political activities against Sultan Abdul Hamid II, but was freed six months later for lack of evidence. In 1891 he was arrested again and sentenced to death, but two years later he was able to escape prison and go first to Persia and then to Tiflis. After doing menial jobs, in 1895 he went to St. Petersburg to follow studies at an art society school with a scholarship granted by Catholicos Mgrdich I (Khrimian Hayrig).

His studies were interrupted in 1897, when the Russian police arrested him in Reval (now Tallinn, the capital of Estonia) upon a request of the Ottoman government. He was transferred to half a dozen prisons until he was secretly exiled to Persia in 1898. He managed to escape again to Batum, in Georgia, and leave for Paris. In Paris he entered the famous Julian Academy, from which he graduated in 1904.

Upon his return to Eastern Armenia, Terlemezian, who had already participated in collective exhibitions in Paris, created various paintings inspired by his visits to Etchmiadzin, Sanahin, and other places. He settled in Tiflis, where he taught at the Nersessian and Hovnanian schools, and participated actively in cultural life from 1905-1908.

He traveled to Egypt and Algeria in 1908, and then resided in Paris for the next two years, where he continued painting. In 1910 he settled in Constantinople, where he would live until the beginning of World War I. Here he befriended some of the most prominent intellectuals of the period, and shared his residence with Gomidas Vartabed. In 1913 he gave his first individual exhibition in Constantinople and won the golden medal at the international exhibition of Munich. Returning to Van, he was one of the leaders of the resistance of April-May 1915 against the attack of Turkish regular troops. After the retreat of the Russian troops, he went to Etchmiadzin with the Armenian refugees and then to Tiflis. In 1916-1917 he became one of the founding members and organizers of the Society of Armenian Artists in Tiflis and its branch in Rostov-on-the-Don.

Terlemezian went abroad in 1920. He lived for a few years in Constantinople, Italy, and France, and in 1923 he settled in the United States, where he lived and presented individual exhibition in New York, Fresno, San Francisco, and Los Angeles during the next five years. He also participated in the Biennial of Venice (1924).

In 1928 he was invited by the government of Soviet Armenia to return. He would live in Yerevan until his death. He gave individual exhibitions in Yerevan and Tiflis. In 1930 he was given the title of Emeritus Artist of Soviet Armenia and became a member of the Society of Painters of the Soviet Union in 1932.

Panos Terlemezian passed away on April 30, 1941. The art school established in Yerevan in 1921 was posthumously named after him.

 

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THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee

Raffi

DEATH OF RAFFI
APRIL 25, 1888

One hundred and thirty years after his death, Raffi has long become a classic of Armenian literature. He was born Hakob Melik Hakobian on September 5, 1835, in Payajuk, a village in the district of Salmast, in Iranian Azerbaijan. He was the eldest of nine siblings. His paternal family had been meliks (hereditary lords) of the village for many generations. His father was a wealthy farmer and merchant.

His education began in the home of the village priest. There, in a small cramped room adjacent to the barn, boys of all ages and levels of learning were taught under pressure of corporal punishment. In 1847, at the age of twelve, his father, who had always harbored a deep respect for education, sent him to Tiflis, a major center of Armenian intellectual life at that time, to continue his secondary education at the Nersessian School. Since the school had been shut down due to a cholera outbreak, the future writer enrolled in a boarding school run by a distinguished Armenian teacher, Garabed Belakhian. This school was administered under the aegis of the Russian gymnasium of Tiflis, and its curriculum was adapted to requirements for entry into that institution. Here, the young village boy learned literary Armenian and Russian, and acquired a privileged education. In 1855 he started drafting his first novel in Classical Armenian, which he later transposed into vernacular Armenian and would be posthumously published as Salbi (1911).

In 1856, when he had still a year to complete his gymnasium studies, he was forced to abandon his formal education and return home to help his ailing father with the family business. In 1857-1858 he visited Western Armenian, particularly the regions of Van and Mush, and acquainted himself firsthand with the plight of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. In 1863 he married Anna Hormouz, the daughter of an Assyrian Protestant family. They had two sons and a daughter, who died at a young age. However, the death of his father in 1865 sent the family into ruin. Hakob Melik-Hakobian had to work as a sales clerk and accountant in Tiflis to try to take care of his extended family.

From 1872-76 he contributed to the newly published Mshak daily in Tiflis. He debuted with the penname Alexander Raffi, which would later become just Raffi. He subsequently took teaching posts in Armenian language and history at the Armenian school in Tabriz (1875), where he put into practice his modern educational values. Two years later, he had to leave the city due to his conflict with the conservative establishment, both Armenian and Persian. He took a teaching position in Agoulis, in the region of Nakhichevan, but in 1879, his progressive views became again a matter for clashes with the local wealthy sponsors, and he settled in Tiflis for good, where he continued his prolific work for Mshak. The newspaper would publish many of his novels in serialized form. A year before he had published to great acclaim his first book, Jalaleddin, a novel depicting the massacres of Armenians by a Kurdish chieftain in the southeastern corner of Western Armenia. The next critically and popularly acclaimed book would be the novel The Fool (1881), whose subject was the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878. In the following years, the patriotic imagery and episodes of both novels would inspire many young people to devote themselves to the cause of the liberation of Western Armenia, which would end in the creation of revolutionary groups and then political parties.

Raffi, who underwent a brief search and house arrest by the Czarist police in 1883 under suspicions of being a revolutionary, met the relentless criticism of the Armenian conservative press. A jubilee for the twenty-fifth anniversary of his literary activities was planned in 1884, but forbidden by the authorities. His next novels, Davit Bek (1882), The Golden Rooster (1882), The Diary of a Cross-Stealer (1883), Sparks (two volumes, 1883-1884), and Samuel (1886), which depicted historical and contemporary issues, further cemented his fame. Raffi’s novels would transcend his time and become mandatory reading for the next generations.

In 1886, while Samuel was received with great enthusiasm by the public, Raffi’s health had started to decline. In 1888 he published his last book, The Five Melikdoms of Gharabagh. His lungs were failing, and he passed away on April 25, 1888. He was buried in the Armenian cemetery of Khojivank on April 29, with an enormous mass of people attending beneath a downpour. As another novelist, Shirvanzade, wrote years later, “Raffi’s was the first great public funeral. Never before had there been anything like it.”

Anna Raffi, the writer’s wife, later moved to London with his sons Aram and Raffi. She would be instrumental in the publication of Raffi’s unpublished works, as well as reprints of his already popular novels. Her sons would have an important literary and political activity in the British capital to the benefit of Armenian causes. Raffi’s works, prohibited in Soviet Armenia during Stalin’s time, were published in huge multivolume editions afterwards. Presently, there is a school as well as a street named after Raffi in Yerevan. His works have been translated into several languages, such as English, French, Spanish, and others.

 

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THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY
(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee)

 Anatole

 

Birth of Anatole France
(April 16, 1844)

Anatole France was a Nobel Prize winner and a member of the French Academy, but he also was a humanist, and as such, a staunch defender of the Armenian Cause.

He was born François-Anatole Thibault on April 16, 1844 in Paris. He was the son of a bookseller, who also became a bibliophile. He studied at the Collège Stanislas, a private Catholic school, and after graduation he worked at his father’s bookstore, specialized in books and papers on the French Revolution, and frequented by many notable writers and scholars. He later secured the position of cataloguer at various libraries, and was appointed librarian for the French Senate in 1876. The next year, he married Valérie Guérin de Sauville. They had a daughter in 1881 and would get divorced in 1893. He would have various relationships and affairs, and finally he married his governess, Emma Laprévotte, in 1920.

He started his literary career in 1867, writing articles and poetry with the pseudonym Anatole France. He became famous with his novel The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (1881), which earned him a prize from the French Academy. Other novels cemented his fame, and he was elected as one of the “forty immortals” of the French Academy in 1896, at the age of fifty-two.

In 1896 the country was rocked by the Dreyfus affair; Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish army officer who had been falsely convicted of espionage in a case that had anti-Semitic overtones. France fought along another fellow novelist, Émile Zola—the author of a famous piece, “J’accuse” (I Accuse)–in defense of Dreyfus. He wrote about the affair in his 1901 novel Monsieur Bergeret. The scandal ended with Dreyfus being proven innocent.

In the aftermath of the Hamidian massacres of 1895-1896, Anatole France, always an activist for human rights and just causes joined the pro-Armenian movement and raised his voice to condemn Sultan Abdul Hamid II and defend the Armenian rights. In 1901 was one of the co-founders of the periodical Pro-Armenia, sponsored by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and continued his speeches and political rallies in favor of Armenian until 1907. Anatole France also had a close friendship with famous writer Arshag Tchobanian and painter Edgar Chahine.

In 1908 France published his novel Penguin Island, which satirizes human nature by depicting the transformation of penguins into humans, after the animals were baptized by mistake by a nearsighted ecclesiastic. It was actually a satirical history of France from the Medieval time to the novelist’s own time, concluding with a dystopian future. Another celebrated novel, The Gods Are Thirst (1912), was a wake-up call against political and ideological fanaticism. It depicted a true-believing follower of revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre and his contribution to the bloody events of the Reign of Terror of 1793-1794, following the French Revolution of 1789. He published his most profound novel, Revolt of the Angels (1914), at the age of eighty. It was loosely based on the Christian understanding of the War in Heaven, and told the story of a guardian angel who fell in love and joined the revolutionary movement of angels.

After the beginning of World War I and the Armenian Genocide, Anatole France returned to the political scene and was one of the keynote speakers at the April 1916 “Homage to Armenia” held at the Sorbonne amphitheater with the assistance of 3,000 people. In his speech, France included the much-quoted passage: “Armenia is dying, but it will survive. The little blood that is left is precious blood that will give birth to a heroic generation. A nation that does not want to die, does not die.”

Anatole France was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1921 in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament.” He passed away on October 12, 1924, and his funeral was attended by a crowd of two hundred thousand people. He is buried in the Neuilly-sur-Seine cemetery near Paris. A few days ago, on March 30, 2018, the French International School in Armenia, founded in 2007 in Yerevan, was renamed after him.

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