Komitas Vardapet (Soghomon Soghomonian, 1869 – 1935) was an Armenian composer, musician, ethnographer, scientist, conductor, singer, teacher, publicist and poet, and founder of Armenian classical music and Armenian composing school.
Born in 1869 in Kütahya, he studied in Etchmiadzin, Tbilisi and Berlin. He lived in Paris, Venice and Constantinople, among other places. Without any doubt, he deeply influenced his environment wherever he was. His students, his audiences and his colleagues adored him equally.
If Komitas had written only "Antuni" that would be enough to regard him as a great musician.
– Claude Debussy
Komitas Vardapet dedicated his life to Armenian spiritual and folk music. He published numerous and highly regarded articles in specialist journals. His work as a musicologist, choirmaster, arranger and composer was accompanied by countless press releases and announcements in international newspapers.
Komitas was a priest of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Even though his equal love for church and folk music led to controversies, he never tired of teaching against disdain and prejudice towards peasant music (at that time considered weak and sinful). As a skilled teacher and lecturer he rather tried to teach connecting elements, and to explain the different cultural influences in melodies and songs.
As a choir director he succeeded in forming choirs of several hundred singers. These choirs also supported and included female singers, which was not a matter of course for the church music of the time. Their acclaimed tours led them through the Ottoman Empire and Europe, and they also followed an invitation to Alexandria.
However, his brilliant creative period ended abruptly in 1915 with the Armenian Genocide. He survived, but not only his physical condition worsened extremely. From 1916 until his death he spent his time in various psychiatric institutes in Constantinople and France, where he died in 1935.