“DARD MI ANI DJAN” – SAYAT NOVA – HOVHANNES BADALIAN
HOVHANNES BADALIAN (1924-2001)
Hovannes Badalian was born in 1924 in the village of Shavarin near the city of Hamadan, Iran. His parents were from the ancient Armenian village of Gardabad near the city of Urmia. They came to Shavarin as refugees when the Turkish army invaded northwestern Iran. Armenians of the region, who were well aware of the 1915 Genocide of their kin in eastern Anatolia at the hands of the Turks, fled south, hoping to find safety with the British army which occupied Baghdad, Iraq, and was poised to move north.
Despite hardships and uncertainties young Hovanness was able to attend an Armenian school in Baghdad until he was a teenager. In 1936 he returned to Iran where he started singing first in social gatherings and then in choirs. In Tehran, he studied and performed with maestro Hambartsum Grigorian but was not satisfied with his prospects in Iran. He wanted to achieve more, hence, when the opportunity was offered to him at age 22, Badalian left for Armenia with a group of students to study music and train his voice.
In Armenia he attended the Romanos Melikian Music College and joined the Folk Music Instruments Ensemble of the Armenian Radio. His voice began to echo throughout the Diaspora and soon he was among the favorite performers of the Armenian Radio. In 1949 pressures from the Soviet regime forced him to leave the Radio Ensemble and join the Tatoul Altunian Folk Dance and Song Ensemble but five years later he returned to the Radio program where heworked until the end of his life. In 1980 he also began to teach at Komitas State Conservatory, Yerevan, Armenia.
In 1957 Badalian received the title of Honored Artist of Armenia and in 1961 he earned the title of the People’s Artist of Armenia. Catholicos Aram the First presented him with the Saint Mesrop Mashtots Medal and the title of Singer of All Armenians in 2000 and a year later his achievements were recognized with the Movses Khorenatsi Medal from the President of the Republic of Armenia.
Hovannes Badalian passed away on August 19, 2001 in Yerevan after a short illness. Throughout his life Hovannes performed on many world stages from the Middle Eastern countries to Europe, Australia, Canada, US and countless tours within the Soviet Union and Armenia. He displayed an unparalleled enthusiasm whenever and wherever he walked on the stage. He left behind his distinctive school of singing a delightful collection of Armenian folk and patriotic songs and a living legacy in the minds of his contemporaries.
SAYAT NOVA (1712-1795)
The great Armenian troubadour Sayat Nova was born in 1712 to a peasant family in the village of Sanahin, not far from Tiflis, the capital of Georgia. Named Haroutiun Sayatyan at birth, the great musician and lyric poet is remembered by the Armenians as Sayat Nova or “King of Songs”, an homage to his status in the Armenian community.
As a boy, Haroutiun gained regional recognition for his fine singing voice, interpretations of folk songs, and as an emerging virtuoso of the kemenche (a violin-like instrument with 3 strings, tuned in 4ths and played with a bow, using the German-style bowing often employed by bass players.
In his early teens the Sayatyan family moved to Tiflis, the capital of the Kingdom of Georgia. Tiflis, or Tbilisi, was then as it remains today, an important center of Armenian culture, music and literature. It is generally acknowledged that Sayat Nova served as an apprentice to a weaver.
The title “kousan” is added as a prefix to the name of a well known artist. (i.e. Kousan Ashot, Kousan Setrag, etc.) Had Haroutiun not been endowed with the name Sayat Nova, he is likely to have been known as Kousan Haroutiun.
Sayat Nova was renowned for his superb command of the Armenian language. But his fluency in Georgian, Persian, and Azerbaijani allowed him to perform for the widest possible audience, and to gain fame far beyond his own ethnic group. The cosmopolitan community of Tiflis embraced him and made this young Armenian genius their own. The known body of songs attributed to Sayat Nova numbers about 220, the true volume of work is likely to have been in the thousands. It should be noted that these works, though notated in the 19th century, have been largely passed down as an aural tradition.
As his fame spread, Sayat Nova was summoned to the Court of Heracle II, the 18th century King of Georgia. The King placed him in the service of the Court as a Royal Musician and Poet. His fall from grace in the Court is likely to have been caused by his love for the King’s sister, Princess Anna. The King, fearing the power and influence that would likely accrue to Sayat Nova as a result of a marriage to Anna, expelled the great kousan from the Court.
Sayat Nova, the greatest of the Armenia kousans, was killed in 1795, by the invading forces of the Persian Knight, Agha Mohammed Khan.
He is the most revered of all the Armenian troubadours.