Posts Tagged ‘Gomidas’

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

[ANEC]

 

Closure of the Kevorkian Lyceum
(December 21, 1917)

 

In the nineteenth century, the Armenian Church did not have an institution that provided superior religious education and prepared its future members. At the beginning of his tenure, Catholicos Kevork IV (1866-1882) met Russian czar Alexander II (1855-1881) and asked for permission to found such an institution. The construction of the lyceum (jemaran) started on May 25, 1869 and the grand opening was held five years later, on September 28, 1875. The bylaws approved by the Ministry of Education of the Russian Empire in the same year established that the lyceum would have two sections: a six-year school and a three-year auditory, and would provide higher religious education. After the death of the Catholicos, the lyceum was named in his honor.

Despite many efforts, Kevork IV did not see any graduate becoming a celibate priest during his tenure. A secularist spirit predominated in the lyceum. His successor Magar I (1885-1891) played an important role to redirect the institution into its actual purpose. He invited a qualified faculty, which included Bishop Maghakia Ormanian, future Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople. The latter became the teacher of theological subjects, and thanks to his efforts, four graduates were consecrated celibate priests in 1888.

The level education at the lyceum was quite high. At the school level, the following subjects were taught: Armenian history and geography, general history and geography, ancient Armenian literature, Armenian and foreign (Russian, French, German) languages, natural sciences, astronomy, mathematics, the Bible, religious music, logics, etc. The auditory section included Armenian language (Classical and Modern), Armenian history, religious literature, Armenian literature, European literature, philosophy, psychology, pedagogy, political economy, history of the Armenian Church, Armenian religious law, ritual studies, ancient Greek, etcetera.
kEVORKIANLYCEUM

The graduates presented final essays, which were defended before an examining committee and then they became clerics or continued their higher studies in Russian and European universities.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the lyceum had 20 paying students and 230 others with scholarships. It was maintained through the incomes of the monastery of Holy Etchmiadzin, as well as fundraisers and donations. The Catholicos was the principal, who followed the activities of the lyceum through the Educational Council and the dean. The deans included Bishop Gabriel Ayvazovsky (brother of the famous painter), Rev. Garegin Hovsepiants (future Catholicos of Cilicia), Rev. Mesrop Ter-Movsisyan, and other names, generally but not exclusively ecclesiastics. Among the teachers of the Kevorkian lyceum were such luminaries of Armenian culture as Manuk Abeghian, Hrachia Ajarian, Leo, Stepan Lisitsian, Gomidas, Hakob Manandian, and many others. Those teachers were partly graduates of the same lyceum.

Within the frame of the lyceum there was an intensive intellectual activity: preparation of Armenian schools programs, writing of textbooks and handbooks, as well as many historiographic, philological, pedagogical, and theological works. The faculties of the Armenian schools of the Caucasus were filled by graduates of the Kevorkian lyceum for more than half a century.

Due to the political and military unfavorable conditions at the end of 1917, Catholicos Kevork V (1911-1930) decided to cease temporarily the activities of the lyceum on December 21, 1917. Attempts to reopen the Kevorkian Lyceum during the first independent Republic did not succeed. The unique and rich collection of its library (45,000 volumes) became one of the starting points of the collections of the National Library of Armenia and the Matenadaran.

The Etchmiadzin lyceum was finally reopened in 1945 and continues its activities until today.

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THIS WEEK IN ARMENIAN HISTORY

(Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee [ANEC])

 

Death of Gomidas Vartabed

(October 22, 1935)

 

Gomidas Vartabed was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, but he was also a victim of it, for he was never able to recover from the traumatic effects of his short-termed deportation.

Soghomon Soghomonian was born in Kütahya (Gudina), in western Turkey, on October 8, 1869. His family was Turkish-speaking.  He lost his mother when he was one year old and his father when he was ten. In 1881 he was taken to Holy Etchmiadzin, where he entered the Kevorkian Seminary.

His exceptional voice and musical abilities attracted special attention. He studied Armenian musical notes and religious music, collected popular songs, and made his first attempts at composing. In 1893 he graduated and was designated music teacher and choirmaster of the cathedral. One year later he was ordained a celibate priest, and named Gomidas in honor of Catholicos Gomidas, a musician and poet of the 7th century. In 1895, he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite (vartabed).Gomidas

He pursued musical studies in Berlin from 1896-1899. He returned to Etchmiadzin from 1899-1910. He collected close to 3,000 popular songs and dances, which he mostly arranged for choir versions. He presented his arrangements of Armenian popular and religious music in Paris (1906) with great success.

His musical programs included folk and sacred music, but his actions and ideas upset a conservative faction in Etchmiadzin. After Catholicos Mgrdich I (Khrimian Hairig) passed away in 1907, Gomidas’ situation became more problematic. He wrote that he could not breathe and was suffocating in Etchmiadzin. His formal request to become a hermit and continue his work was denied, and finally he decided to move to Constantinople.

He created the 300-member “Kusan” Choir and gave concerts in various places in the Ottoman Empire and Egypt. Five of its members (Parsegh Ganachian, Mihran Toumajan, Vartan Sarxian, Vagharshag Srvantzdian, and Haig Semerjian) took classes of musical theory with him and came to be known as the “five Gomidas students.”

In April 1915, Gomidas was arrested with more than 200 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders and exiled to Chankiri. His behavior changed along the exile route. A few weeks later, while officiating at a church service, word came that he would be sent back to Constantinople with a few other notables.

The return was very difficult for him. His friends could not understand his odd behavior and considered him mad, committing him to the Turkish Military Psychiatric Hospital. Many of his compositions and notes were dispersed and lost.

In 1919 he was sent to Paris, where he spent the rest of his life, first in a private psychiatric hospital and then in the Villejuif asylum, where he passed away. In 1936 his body was sent to Armenia and buried in the pantheon named after him, where famous personalities found their final rest. The Music Conservatory of Yerevan is named after him, as is the state chamber quartet.

Gomidas was justly termed the Father of Armenian Music, as he rescued from oblivion more than 4,000 village songs and melodies, and set the foundation for the scientific study of Armenian music. He also wrote pieces for piano and songs, fragments for comedies and operas. His version of the Holy Mass is a classic work, used to this day by the Armenian Church.

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