Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Աւետիք Իսահակեան (մահ՝ 17 Հոկտեմբեր 1957)

Աւետիք Իսահակեանի անունը մինչեւ օրս կը շարունակէ իր ժողովրդականութիւնը պահել, յատկապէս իր բանաստեղծութիւններով, որոնցմէ շատեր երգի վերածուած են։

Իսահակեան ծնած էր Ալեքսանդրապոլ (այսօր Գիւմրի) 30 Հոկտեմբեր 1875ին։ Մանկութիւնն ու պատանեկութիւնն անցան շրջակայ Ղազարապատ (այժմ՝ Իսահակեան) գիւղին մէջ։ Ս. Էջմիածնի «Գէորգեան» ճեմարանը ուսանելէ ետք, 1893-1895-ին ան իբրեւ ազատ ունկնդիր հետեւած է Լայփցիկի համալսարանի (Գերմանիա) դասընթացքներուն։

Իր գրական առաջին փորձերուն առընթեր, ապագայ բանաստեղծը քաղաքական գործունէութեան մէջ մխրճուեցաւ։ Ալեքսանդրապոլ վերադառնալով 1895ին, ան Հայ Յեղափոխական Դաշնակցութեան տեղական կոմիտէին անդամակցեցաւ։ 1896ին ձերբակալուեցաւ ռուսական ոստիկանութեան կողմէ եւ մէկ տարի բանտարկութեան դատապարտուեցաւ Երեւանի բերդին մէջ։

Ազատ արձակուելէ ետք, 1897ին Իսահակեան դարձեալ արտասահման մեկնեցաւ, այս անգամ Զուիցերիա, ուր գրականութեան ու փիլիսոփայութեան պատմութեան դասերու հետեւեցաւ իբրեւ ունկնդիր Ցիւրիխի համալսարանին մէջ։ Տարի մը ետք, ան հրատարակեց իր առաջին գիրքը՝ «Երգեր եւ վէրքեր»։ 1902ին հայրենիք վերադառնալով, այնուհետեւ Թիֆլիս հաստատուեցաւ։ «Պոէմներ» խորագրով երկրորդ գիրք մը հրատարակեց 1903ին, որուն յաջորդեց «Երգեր ու վէրքեր»ու ընդլայնուած հրատարակութիւնը 1908ին։

Մինչ այդ, 1905ի յեղափոխութեան հետեւած քաղաքական գործունէութիւնը խափանելու նպատակով, ռուս կառավարութիւնը 1908ին արշաւի մը ձեռնարկեց երկրի յեղափոխական շարժումներուն դէմ։ Իսահակեան Հ.Յ.Դ.ի գործով ձերբակալուած 158 մտաւորականներէն ու գործիչներէն մէկն էր։ Ան մեծ գրաւի դիմաց ազատ արձակուեցաւ՝ Թիֆլիսի Մետեխի բանտը կէս տարի անցնելէ ետք։ 1910ին բանաստեղծը ամուսնացաւ Սոֆիա Քոչարեանի հետ։ Արարողութիւնը տեղի ունեցաւ Անիի աւերակներուն մէջ։ Քաղաքական մթնոլորտը անշնչելի էր, ու այդ յոռետեսութեան արդիւնքներէն կարելի է նկարել հռչակաւոր «Աբու-Լալա Մահարի» վիպերգը, որ գրուած է 1909-1910ին։ Այդ տարի, նորապսակները նախ Պոլիս անցան, ուր լոյս տեսաւ վիպերգը, եւ ապա Եւրոպա, իրենց նորածին որդիին՝ Վիգէնի հետ։

Իսահակեան հաստատուեցաւ Պերլին, ուր 1914ին Գերմանա-Հայկական Ընկերութեան հիմնադիրներէն մէկը դարձաւ խումբ մը հայ եւ գերմանացի մտաւորականներու հետ։ 1916ին փոխադրուեցաւ Ժընեւ, ուրկէ շարունակեց հետեւիլ Հայկական Հարցին, ինչ որ ցոլացում գտաւ իր բանաստեղծութիւններուն, օրագրային նշումներուն եւ յօդուածներուն մէջ։ Ան սկսաւ գրել վէպ մը՝ «Ուստա Կարօ», որ կը միտէր ներկայացնել քսաներորդ դարակիզբի հայ քաղաքական կեանքը, եւ որ սակայն անաւարտ մնաց՝ հակառակ երկար տարիներու աշխատանքին։ 1920ին ու 1922ին երկու բանաստեղծական ժողովածու հրատարակեց, ինչպէս եւ «Սասմայ Մհեր» վիպերգի իր առաջին տարբերակը։

Իսահակեան Վենետիկ փոխադրուած էր 1921ին, ուր եւ ապրեցաւ մինչեւ 1926։ Այդ տարի Խորհրդային Հայաստան մեկնեցաւ, իր ընտանիքը Փարիզ ձգելով։ Չորս տարի Հայաստան մնալէ ետք, 1930ին բանաստեղծը Փարիզ վերադարձաւ, ուր զբաղեցաւ խորհրդահայ վարչակարգի տարբեր նախաձեռնութիւններու քարոզչութեամբ։ 1936ին վերջնականապէս Հայաստան հաստատուեցաւ՝ հանդերձ ընտանեօք։

Ստալինեան ժամանակներուն, Իսահակեան մնաց հայ գրականութեան «վարպետը», այս տիտղոսին բաժնեկից ըլլալով նկարիչ Մարտիրոս Սարեանի հետ, ու շարունակեց գրել ու հրատարակել։ 1943ին ընտրուեցաւ նորաստեղծ Գիտութիւններու Ակադեմիայի անդամ, իսկ երեք տարի ետք ստացաւ Խորհրդային Միութեան պետական մրցանակը։ 1946ին ալ նշանակուեցաւ Հայաստանի Գրողներու Միութեան նախագահ, այս պաշտօնը վարելով մինչեւ իր մահը՝ 17 Հոկտեմբեր 1957-ին։

Աւետիք Իսահակեան թաղուեցաւ Կոմիտասի անուան պանթէոնին մէջ, Երեւան, ուր իր տուն-թանգարանը բացուեցաւ 1963ին։ Աւելի ուշ, ուրիշ տուն-թանգարան մը բացուեցաւ Գիւմրիի մէջ։ Բանաստեղծին արձանները կանգնած են երկու քաղաքներուն մէջ, իսկ Հայաստանի տարբեր քաղաքներու դպրոցներ, փողոցներ ու գրադարաններ անոր անունը կը կրեն։

Death of Avetik Isahakian (October 17, 1957)

Avetik Isahakian was and remains a popular name in Armenian literature, particularly for the folkloric style of his poetry. Many of his poems have become songs.

He was born in Alexandropol (nowadays Gumri) on October 30, 1875. He spent his childhood and adolescence in the surrounding village of Ghazarapat, now called Isahakian after him. He studied at the Kevorkian Seminary of Holy Etchmiadzin, and from 1893-1895 he was an auditor at the University of Lepzig, in Germany.

He started writing in his youth years, while he also delved into political activities. He returned to Alexandropol in 1895 and became a member of the local committee of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. He was arrested by the Russian police in 1896 and spent a year imprisoned in the fortress of Yerevan.

He left the country after coming out of prison. In 1897 he went to the University of Zurich as auditor of history of literature and philosophy. A year later, he published his first book of poetry, Songs and Wounds. In 1902 he came back to the homeland and then settled in Tiflis. He published a second book of poetry, Poems, in 1903, followed by an enlarged edition of Songs and Wounds in 1908.

In 1908 the Russian government launched a repressive campaign against the revolutionary movements throughout the empire. Isahakian was among the 158 intellectuals arrested in the “A.R.F. case” and, after remaining for half year in the prison of Metekh, in Tiflis, he was liberated with a huge bail. The atmosphere was irrespirable and perhaps was one of the reasons besides the writing of the long poem Abu-Lala Mahari from 1909-1910. In 1910 the poet married Sofia Kocharian in the ruins of Ani. They moved first to Constantinople, where he published the poem in 1911, and then to Europe with their newly-born son, Vigen.

They settled in Berlin, where Isahakian would become one of the founders of the German-Armenian Society in 1914 together with a group of Armenian and German intellectuals. In 1916 the Isahakians moved to Geneva. The poet would actively follow the Armenian cause and reflect it in his writing, journal notes, and articles. He started writing a novel, Usta Garo, where he intended to present Armenian political life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, which remained unfinished despite working on it for many years. He published two collections of poems in 1920 and 1922, as well as the first version of his poem Mher of Sassoon, based on the final cycle of the Armenian epic.

Isahakian moved to Paris in 1924 and, after fifteen years in exile, he visited Soviet Armenia in 1926 and remained there for four years. He returned to Europe in 1930 and lived in the French capital for the next six years, where he was an activist on behalf of Soviet Armenia until 1936. In this year, he returned definitively to the homeland with his family.

In Armenia, where he was familiarly known as varpet (“master”), a title that he only shared with painter Martiros Sarian, Isahakian was the dean of Armenian literature in the hard times of Stalinist repression. He continued writing and publishing. He became a member of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia in 1943. He earned the State Prize of the USSR in 1946, and in this same year he was appointed president of the Writers Union of Armenia, a position he held until his death on October 17, 1957 in Yerevan.

Avetik Isahakian was buried in the “Komitas” Pantheon of Yerevan. His house-museum in Yerevan was opened in 1963 and another was later opened in Gumri. There are statues of him in both cities, as well as schools, streets, and libraries carrying his name in different towns of Armenia.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Death of Vilmos Lázár (October 6, 1849)

The centuries-old Armenian community of Transylvania—currently part of Romania--had essentially lost the language by the nineteenth century, but had kept a strong sense of identity. They were fully integrated to the life of Hungary, which was part of Austria since 1526. It should not be surprising that several military leaders of the Hungarian-Revolution of 1848-1849 were Armenian. One of them was Vilmos (pronounced Vilmosh) Lázár.

Lázár’s (originally Lazarian) ancestors had moved from Gherla (Armenopolis), the Armenian center of Transylvania, to the region of Banat—currently divided between Romania, Serbia, and Hungary—and received a title of nobility. He was born in the city of Nagybecskerek (nowadays Zrenjanin in Serbia) on October 24, 1815. In 1834 he began his military career in the service of the 34 th regiment of infantry in the imperial army. He was commissioned by Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria as a second lieutenant in the Hussar regiment, but in 1844 he retired and returned to his estate farm in Zemplen with his wife, Baroness Mária Revitzky. He worked at the railway company in 1847.

The echo of the French revolution of 1848 spread throughout the continent and found fertile ground in Hungary, where nationalist trends had generated an awakening of patriotism. On March 15, 1848, a revolt against the Habsburg dynasty exploded. Led by Lajos Kossuth, poet Sándor Petöfi, and Mór Jókai, it soon became a war of independence. Emperor Franz-Joseph asked for help to Czar Nicholas I of Russia to fight against the revolution.

Lázár took the revolutionary side and volunteered his services to the Hungarian army. He successively became a lieutenant (October 1848), captain (November), major (January 1849). In April 1849 he was appointed as commander of a brigade stationed in Zemplén. At the end of the month the brigade was reassigned to the legion forming in Upper Hungary. In mid-June Lázár became the commander of division in the legion and participated in the Dukla Pass battle against a Russian army. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in July and fought in the last battles of the war of independence. He was promoted to colonel on August 12, but the next day the revolutionary army surrendered to the Austrian-Russian forces. On August 19 Lázár had to do the same with the remainder of his troops (4,600 people).

The promise of an amnesty went unfulfilled. On October 6, 1849, thirteen Hungarian officers were condemned to death by the Austrian forces of occupation in Arad (Transylvania). The date was purposefully selected, because it marked the first anniversary of the failed insurrection of Vienna in 1848 and the supremacy of Austrian power.

Although Lázár only had the rank of colonel, he was considered to have equal status with the generals in the Arad military court martial. He was sentenced to execution by firing squad together with three other colleagues, including General Ernö Kiss, also of Armenian origin. Nine others were hanged.

Vilmos Lázár’s remnants were uncovered in 1913 at the cemetery of the fortress of Arad. His body was then laid to rest in the crypt with a monument that honors him as one of the 13 Martyrs of Arad. Four streets in Budapest and other cities are named after him.

Since 1997, on each October 6, the Armenian community of Hungary organizes a tribute to Vilmos Lázár and Ernö Kiss at the square that remembers the martyrs of Arad in the city of Veszprém.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Birth of Romanos Melikian (October 1, 1883)

In the constellation of Armenian musicians from the first half of the twentieth century, between names like Gomidas Vartabed, Aram Khachatourian, Alexander Spendiarian, Parsegh Ganachian, and others, Romanos Melikian appears as a less shining star.

He was born on October 1, 1883, in the city of Kizlyar, in the region of Daghestan (Northern Caucasus). He received his primary education in the parochial school, and continued his studies at the diocesan school of Nor Nakhichevan, where his first music teacher was Kevork Chorekjian (the future Catholicos of All Armenians Kevork VI). In 1900, at the age of seventeen, he became the choirmaster of the church of Surp Kevork in Nor Nakhichevan. He graduated in 1902 and went to study at the musical school of Rostov. In those years, he had already arranged Armenian popular songs and liturgical hymns for choir. In 1905 he left for Moscow and, after a year of private classes, he was admitted to the Popular Conservatory and directed the choir of the Lazarian Institute.

Poor health and financial constraints forced Melikian to leave his education unfinished and return to Nor Nakhichevan. He then went to Tiflis, where he took a position as a music teacher at the Hovnanian School from 1908-1910. He gathered young musicians working within the local Armenian schools and created the Musical League in 1908 with composer Azat Manoukian. He continued composing songs for schools, using popular motifs.

He returned to school in 1910 and studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory until 1914. He went back to Tiflis in 1915 and continued teaching. He had his first authorial concert in 1920, at the age of thirty-seven. A year later, the government of Soviet Armenia invited him to Yerevan to found a musical studio, which became a conservatory two years later. In 1924 he went to Stepanakert, the new capital of Karabagh, and founded a music school, and then went back to Tiflis, where he led the activities of the musical section and the musical school of the Armenian Art House (Hayartun).

Romanos Melikian returned to Yerevan in 1926, where he established friendly relations with Spendiarian. He participated in the work of staging Spendiarian’s celebrated opera Almast and in the foundation of the Opera of Yerevan in 1933. He raised the issue of gathering Gomidas’ musical heritage in Armenia.

Composer, musician, and educator, Melikian continued producing songs until the end of his days. Some of them are still part of the repertoire of soloists and choirs. He passed away on March 30, 1935, in Tiflis, and was buried in the Pantheon of Yerevan. One of the musical schools of Yerevan is named after him, as well as streets in Yerevan and other cities of Armenia. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Death of Andreas Arzruni (September 22, 1898)

Andreas Arzruni was a geologist who had a remarkable international career at a time when it was not common to find Armenian names in this scientific field.
 
Andreas Arzruni was born on November 27, 1847. He was the younger brother of Grigor Artzruni, the future founder of Mshak, the groundbreaking Armenian daily published in Tiflis for almost four decades (1872-1921). He studied in the universities of St. Petersburg, Dorpat (nowadays Tartu), and Heidelberg. He graduated from Heidelberg in 1871 with a doctorate degree in chemistry. After living intermittently in Tiflis from 1871-1875, he continued his academic career in Europe.

Arzruni first taught at the Humboldt University of Berlin from 1877-1883, where he also was adjunct director of the Museum of Mineralogy of the University. After a one-year tenure as extraordinary professor at the University of Breslau (Wroclaw), from 1884-1898 he was professor, head of the chair of Mineralogy, and dean of the Polytechnic School of Aachen. After the death of his brother Grigor, he became the nominal publisher of Mshak from 1895-1898.

In the 1880s and 1890s, Arzruni organized a series of scientific expeditions to the Ural Mountains in Russia, the Caucasus, different European countries, as well as Chile, Guyana, Egypt, etcetera. He dedicated two important expeditions to the study of the geological structure and useful minerals of Armenia (1873-1875 and 1892). In 1894 he climbed to the top of Little Ararat and descended for the first time to the crater of the extinguished volcano. He rejected the theory of Humboldt and Abich that the Armenian volcanoes have a vertical orientation. He used geological factors to explain the oscillations in the level of the Lake Van, which was proven half a decade later. He also foresaw the future of Dilijan as a sanatorium.

Arzruni was the author of more than fifty papers published in scientific journals from 1871 onwards. His studies were related to geological chemistry, crystal chemistry, mineralogy, petrography, as well as economics, philosophy, ethnology, and literature. His book Physical Chemistry of Crystals (1893), in German, was later reprinted twice. He also participated in the sessions of the International Congress of Geology (1897) and co-authored the stratigraphic scheme of the Urals and the first geological maps of the Southern Urals.

He became corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Turin and the Academy of Sciences of Bavaria and St. Petersburg. He first described two minerals, groddeckite and utahite, and before his death he was investigating a new mineral from Chile, which was named arzrunite after him.

In the winter of 1895-1896, while on a visit of inspection to the gold fields of British Guyana, Andreas Arzruni had an attack of fever, and this, together with consumption, forced him to spend the last year or so of his life in sanatoria in Switzerland and on the Rhine. He passed away at the age of fifty-one in Hohenhonnef (Germany) on September 22, 1898. His bust was erected at the entrance of the Polytechnic School of Aachen.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Death of Armenag Shahmuradian (September 14, 1939)


Opera singer Armenag Shahmouradian, labeled “the Armenian Caruso,” was one of the most famous representatives of the musical current embodied by Gomidas Vartabed.

He was born in Mush on April 7, 1878 in the family of a blacksmith. He entered the church choir at the age of eight, while he continued studying at the local school. However, the death of his father interrupted his studies due to lack of resources. The intervention of Bishop Nerses Kharakhanian, prelate of Mush, was providential. He sent the young boy to study at the seminary of the famous convent of Surp Garabed. The new student could not adapt himself to the atmosphere of the convent and returned to Mush pretty soon. This time, the bishop sent him to Echmiadzin with a letter of recommendation. The future singer was admitted to the Kevorkian Seminary, where he had writers Avetik Isahakian and Derenik Demirjian, and musician Grigor Suny among his classmates.

Shahmouradian became soloist in the choir of noted composer Kristapor Kara-Murza, who was a music teacher at the seminary. His extraordinary voice and highly qualified interpretation attracted the attention of Kara-Murza’s replacement, the young Gomidas Vartabed, who took the youngster under his wings. Shahmuradian developed as a singer and musician under Gomidas’ supervision for the next year and a half.

However, he was soon expelled from the seminary for having participated in a student protest against the conservative and retrograde methods applied there. Thanks to the intervention of Catholicos Mgrdich I (Khrimian Hayrig), Western Armenian students like Shahmouradian were admitted to the Nersesian Lyceum in Tiflis to continue their studies. There, he attracted the attention of Makar Ekmalian, the music teacher. He graduated in 1896 and participated in a wave of protests in Tiflis against the savagery of the regime of Abdul Hamid in the Ottoman Empire. He was arrested by the Russian police, sent to the prison of Metekh, and then, as an Ottoman subject, delivered to the Turkish government. He remained in the prison of Kars for eight months. His voice went through the walls of the prison and reached Turkish consul Fuad bey, who sent him to Mush as a free exile.

After two years teaching at the seminary of Surp Garabed, Shahmouradian moved to Erzerum, where he taught music, Armenian language, and Armenian history for four years at the local school, where he also created and directed a choir. Through the intervention of the school authorities, he obtained a Lebanese passport with the pretext of going there for medical reasons. However, he embarked on a French ship and went to Paris instead of Beirut in 1904. In the French capital, he studied for two years with world-famous singer Paulina Viardot, and afterwards he entered the Conservatory of Paris.

In January 1911 Shahmouradian debuted at the Grand Opera of Paris with the role of Faust in Charles Gounod’s homonymous opera. The performance was so successful that, at the request of the press and music aficionados, it continued for a month. In 1912-1913 he toured in Cairo, Tiflis, Constantinople, Baku, and other cities with a repertory of Armenian traditional and popular songs. He moved to the United States in 1914, where he gave concerts in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, and Fresno, and later performed in Europe (London, Manchester, Brussels, Antwerp, Geneva, Zurich) and Asia (Tehran, Baghdad, Calcutta). He recorded many of his songs in 78 rpm records that became a fixture in Armenian homes around the world.

In 1930 Shahmouradian, in precarious health and equally precarious finances, returned to Europe and settled in Paris. Here, he went to see his great master, Gomidas, who was already at the psychiatric clinic of Villejuif. He sang Armenia, Paradise Land (Հայաստան, երկիր դրախտավայր), one of his classical interpretations, and for a few moments Gomidas reacted and recognized his beloved disciple. And that was all.

Like his teacher, Shahmouradian, who had earned the label of “nightingale of Daron,” also passed away in the clinic of Villejuif on September 14, 1939. William Saroyan, who devoted a poem to him, four decades later wrote in Obituaries : “Shah-Mouradian was one of the truly great tenor-baritones of all time, somewhat like John McCormack, a star in Paris and New York, and around the world in opera.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Birth of Diran Cherakian (September 11, 1875)

Diran Cherakian was an important name of the Western Armenian literary generation of the first years of the twentieth century, who would become an indirect victim of the genocide.

He was born on September 11, 1875, in Scutari (Uskudar), a suburb of Constantinople. After his primary studies at the local Surp Khach School (1881-1885), he continued at the famous Berberian Lyceum from 1886-1891. Here he was deeply influenced by its founder and director, the noted writer and educator Reteos Berberian, to whom he dedicated his first book.

After graduation at the age of sixteen, the young Diran, who had already shown his precocious interest in literature, music, and arts, as well as natural history, became a teacher at his alma mater for the next seven years. From 1898-1900 he taught in Trebizonda, on the Black Sea shore, and he was particularly inspired by that sojourn. He wrote his first book, Inner World, which he would publish six years later. He had already become a frequent contributor to the Armenian press with essays, studies, travelogues, prose pieces, and poems.

In 1900 Cherakian returned to Constantinople to continue his teaching career at the Berberian, Getronagan, and Bezazian schools, where he mostly taught Armenian literature. Meanwhile, in 1904-1905 he visited Paris, where he followed courses of painting and literature, and Egypt. In 1906 he finally published Inner World, a collection of philosophical reflections and impressions, followed by a book of sonnets, Cypress Wood, in 1908. He published both books with the pseudonym of Indra (the anagram of his first name, but also the name of the god of the heavens and storms in Indian mythology). Cherakian acquired a certain status among the Western Armenian intelligentsia, even though his literature was sometimes criticized. His philosophy was that light was the ground for the material and spiritual world. The infinite was the way to measure the incommensurable, the universe, and develop universal harmony.

After 1910, the writer went through a deep psychological crisis that would lead him to renege his past and his literary production. He first adhered to spiritism and then, in 1913, he entered the Adventist Church, becoming a wandering preacher. During World War I, he served in the Ottoman army as a translator and secretary, but refused to take arms, and his students raised money to free him from military service. He continued preaching the Bible at his return to Constantinople, which caused his wife and only child to leave the house, as his attitude became intolerable. Cherakian, deeply shocked by the annihilation of 1915, gradually lost his mind and was caught into fixation and paranoia. He burned his manuscripts at that time.

The drama of his life would come to an end in the postwar. He recreated an Adventist auditorium in 1919-1920 and preached the love of Christ and the beauty of eternal life. The wish of death became his fundamental thought. During the Kemalist movement, in 1921, Cherakian went to Konia, where he preached going from house to house. He was arrested as a suspect, charged with sedition and deported in unknown direction. After a journey of many days in extremely painful conditions, under the strikes of the whip, Cherakian, hungry, thirsty, and ill, reached the plain of Diarbekir with his unfortunate companions. He finally passed away on the banks of the Tigris River on June 6, 1921, encouraging his comrades to pursue love, unity, and faith.