August 10, 2022

BBC Music Magazine explores the lasting influence of Komitas

YEREVAN, OCTOBER 22, ARMENPRESS. BBC Music Magazine published a article by Michael Church about Komitas.

The author explores the lasting influence of Komitas, the pioneering folk composer and collector whose career came to an abrupt end.

The author says that all Armenian musicians perform Komitas folk song arrangements or make their own arrangements of the songs he collected. “When Armenians around the world gather on April 24, the Armenian Genocide Memorial Day, to commemorate the 1.5 million of their compatriots massacred by the Turks in 1915, it is the songs of Komitas that they sing. In a memorable YouTube clip from last fall’s Armenian-Azerbaijani war, an Armenian cellist plays a haunting Komitas melody in a ruined Armenian church. For Armenians, music is a memory, and in difficult times, Komitas speaks on behalf of the nation,” says Michael Church.

Michael Church says that Komitas’ output “was very modest – 80 choral works and songs, arrangements of the Armenian Mass, a few piano dances – but he is universally regarded by Armenians as the founding father of their classical tradition”. “As the flamboyant Khachaturian said, with uncharacteristic humility: “Komitas’ music is of such stylistic purity, his language so sublime, that it is impossible to miss it, impossible not to feel his closeness or to refuse his influence.

“During his brief period of stardom in Berlin and Paris – before the Genocide engulfed him – one of his most ardent admirers was Debussy, who declared after a Komitas concert that on the basis of a single song he deserved to be recognized as a great composer. And it is significant that eminent pianists reverently interpret Komitas’ little piano costume”, notes the author.