The Silence and Visuality Seminars on Armenian Art & History present current research by emerging and established scholars, and conversations with distinguished contemporary artists. Seminars are held three times a term (Weeks 2, 5, 9) and take place at 5pm in Pembroke College in the Eccles Room, unless stated otherwise.
Conveners: Dr Vazken Khatchig Davidian and Dr Suzan Meryem Rosita Kalaycı
Talks finish by 5.50pm to allow those with other commitments to leave and are then followed by discussion and refreshments.
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We dedicate this seminar series to the ethnomusicologist and composer Gomidas Vartabed. He was born Soghomon Sogomonian in the central Anatolian city of Kütahya, the son of a cobbler and carpet weaver. Gomidas studied classical music and liturgical music in Berlin and Tbilisi, but his passion was folk music. He collected over 2000 folk songs in Anatolia and the Caucasus—including Armenian peasant music that would otherwise have been forgotten. Three quarters of a century after his death, Gomidas remains among the greatest composers of the twentieth century. Claude Debussy gave him that title after listening to just one song. His music is of such stylistic purity, its language so sublime, Aram Khachaturian, one of the most famous of Armenian composers, explained, that it is impossible to pass by. Gomidas’ music, though, would fall forever silent in 1915. On April 24th, he was among more than two hundred Ottoman Armenian intellectuals—poets, doctors, writers, members of the Ottoman parliament, and teachers—who were arrested in Istanbul, and, with a few exceptions, killed. Gomidas was among them, an exception. After a long mental illness, he was brought to Paris where he died in 1935 in the Villejuif Asylum on the outskirts of Paris. It is said that he never played music again; that his music died with his compatriots; that he had gone mad. But music is not just in the notes, Gomidas’ admirer Debussy once said, but in the spaces between them.
Oxford Network for Armenian Genocide Research, TORCH Networks