ANANIA SHIRAKATSI (VII CENTURY)
Anania Shirakatsi was a medieval (7th century) mathematician, calendar maker, astronomer, geographer, philosopher and a meteorologist. He received his education in Dprevank and then he decided to devote himself to math exploration. He was sure that everything is based on numbers and the counting art is the base of all sciences. Over 1300 years ago, when there were only few experienced specialists and teachers, the only way for continuing the education and gaining more knowledge was the travelling and finding teachers in the distant countries. That is what Shirakatsi did.
Overall, he traveled abroad and studied for 11 years, 8 out of which he studied at a famous Greek scientist’s school Tyukikos Byuzanods. His teacher’s rich library became the second school for Shirakatsi. The Armenian young student studied not only mathematics but also history, medicine, geography and other sciences. After finishing his studies Shirakatsi hurried to return back to Shirak and opened a school where people around Armenia moved here to go to that school.
Anania Shirakatsi was not only teaching but also was creating textbooks which were multiplied one after another.
In his studies Anania Shirakatsi studied phenomena taking place on the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon, on stars and in the space. He was sure that the Earth had round shape, he found out that the light travel speed is faster than the sound. He believed that the moon does not have its own light source, it is a solid body which is seen because it reflects the Sun’s rays, and the dark spots on the moon are the inequalities on its surface.
Anania Shirakatsi statues are in front of Matenadaran and Yerevan State University. The medal of Anania Shirakatsi has been approved by the Republic of Armenia, with which noticeable scientist are awarded for outstanding achievements in the sphere of science and culture.
ASHUGH JIVANI (1846-1909)
Jivani is the founder of the national bards craft school. He purified the Armenian folk songs from foreign music and dialectical expressions by enhancing with folk music elements and was the creator of many melodies.
Jivani (Serobev (Serob) Levonyan) became an orphan at the age of 6, he grew up under the care of his uncle. He received his first bard music education from his fellow villager Ghara Ghazar (Siayi), mastered the accepted rules, learnt to play on a violin and qaman as well.
Jivani left for Tbilisi in 1867 with ashugh Sazayu (Aghajyan) who was touring in Kartsakh, sang in an café for 1 year which belonged to an Armenian, gained fame, from where he was invited by café owner Taloyans. (Jamalina, Sheram and singer Sheram Talyan are coming from this family).
During 1868–95 Jivani lived in Alexandrapol and worked with famous bards such as Jamali, Jahri, Maluli, Gheyrati and Fizayi got aquanted with writer Raffi Patkanyan and others, stutdied the history and folklore of the people of Armenian and eastern countries. All of this left an unerasable influence on Jivani's viewpoint and the literary activity. Before the 1880s, his songs were published in different journals and in the volume of «Sokhak Armenia» song book.
With 25 member band Jivani often performed in Alexandrapol. He also visited Derbend, Makhachkala, Rostov, Kharkov and other Armenian populated villages by introducing the best examples of the Armenian folk songs (Sayat-Nova, Miskin-Burji, Shiran and others).
In order to improve his family condition and in order to educate his children Jivani moves to Tbilisi in 1895, where living was hard. Jivani died couple of months later after his last performance in October, 1908.
Jivani is a classic bard figure. He served people for over 40 years and became the interpreter of their aspirations and dreams.
Sympathizing and supporting poor, sick and desperate people, Jivani is not hesitating to direct his complaints to the people who fraudulently became rich. He writes “The known thieves are the big people now”.
Jivani is deeply connected with his motherland (“Water of my homeland”, “Sweet morning breeze” etc.). He knew the life of an Armenian village very well and was familiar with hard conditions people lived with.
In his moral phycological songs Jivani praise friendship, honesty, commitment, selfsecrifice, love towards parents and children and censures greediness, misery, ungratefulness and calls for follow the light and science (“Qo papagov”, “Friend”, “Buck”, “By the cold spring”, etc.).
Jivani continued and deepened the traditions for creating unique melodies developed by Naghash Hovnatani and Sayat-Nova.
Jivani's language is simple, homely and enhanced with peoples' word and essence. He highly benefited the development of the scientific dialect.
Jivani's song celebration is organized in Kartsakh, annualy the last Sunday of June. On 150th anniversary of Jivani in 1996, a scientific conference was organized in Yerevan, Jivani's bust was installed during the same year, statue in Akhalqalak, 2006 (sculptor Artashes Hovsepyan), a movie was shot about him called “The poet's return” (2007, directed by Harutyun Khachatryan). With “Sayat-Nova” cultural union efforts “Ashugh Jivani; Unknown songs” book was published in 2009.
There is a bard school named after Jivani in Yerevan, Gyumri and other places.
GEORGE HURDJIEFF (1866-1949)
Philosopher, oculist, composer and a traveller Geroge Gurdjieff was borin in the Kapadovcia Greek district of Alexandrapol. His father Adash was a very famous bard. His mother was Armenian.
In 1878 his family moved to Kars. Bosh who was serving in Kars mother cathedral took Gurdjieff under his sponsorship. The unexplainable aspiration to discover the unusual makes Gurdjieff leave for Constantinople.
During 1889-1917, Gurdjieff travelled to over 20 countries, had accessed closed monasteries and journals, he lived and was educated by the Islamic mystic teacher, Indian monks, dervish magicians and Tibetan yogs. He was engaged in many crafts during the travelling by repairing cars, carpets and clothes, as well as sold different items and antiques.
In 1912 he gave lectures in Moscow and Petersburg, on the eastern mystic teaching. In 1918 along with his followers he founded the institute of the harmonious development of men, in Tbilisi. However, he had to move to Constantinople and then to Paris, where he reopens the institution in 1922.
The study of ancient languages was in the program of the school along with the study of medicine and herbs, solving psychological problems, exercises, music and ceremonial dances. The life looked like a monastery life inside the walls of that type of a half spiritual school. Because of the 1933 car crush he had to close the school and started his lecturing and philosophical activities. Many books written by Gurdjieff had been published, such as “The Herald of Coming Good”, “Life is Real Only Then, When 'I Am'”, “Drugs and Humor”, “Meetings with Remarkable Men” etc. His theory is also known as “The Forth Way”.
AVETIK ISAHAKYAN (1875-1957)
Poet and a writer, an academician of the academy of science of the Armenian USR, state laureate of the USSR Avetik Isahakyan’s work is poetry of ideals and aspirations, sealed with philosophical behavior and dignity.
Avetik Isahakyan received his education in Alexandrapol (today’s Gyumri) and Harich monastery schools, from 1889–92 he studied at Echmiadzin Gevorgyan seminary and later taught Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, Stepan Lisitsyan and others.
His first 1892 poem called “Tsaghik ei noraboghboch” was published in “Taraz” journal in December. In 1893 he left for Europe. He worked at Vienna Anthropological Museum and at the same time attended to scientific courses and to the Layptzig University.
Avetik Isahakyan was arrested for one year because of participating in freedom fights in 1896, and then in 1898 he was exiled to Odesa. In 1900 he left for Europe, he lived in Geneva and Zurich. In 1901 he returned back to his homeland. In 1908 he was arrested again and was imprisoned Tbilisi for 1 year, at Metekh prison, since he was charged with the “Dashnak’s case”, as an Armenian Revolutionary Foundation Dashnaktsutyun member.
Isahakyan’s poetry with its lyrical inspiration, melodic and sensitive purity is on its lyrical pick. With his help the sorrow and the grief, delight and the homesickness became known to different people around the world. He became the justice longing and interpreter for the independent souls.
Isahakyan developed folk novels, legends and fairytales. Many topics were taken from the Armenian and Eastern fold stories and developed them according to folk life hood and philosophy with their ambitions, aspirations such as “The Native Land”, “Shidhar”, “Lilit”, “The last spring of Saad”, “The everlasting love”. Each of Isahakyan’s poems are philosophical unique world shaped with exclusive power of the poetic genius.
Isahakyan talked about exiling and motherly love in many of his works. Sometimes, exile is combined in mother’s image. Beautiful image on mother’s love are beautifully depicted in “Mother” and “The Mother’s Heart” legends.
Patriotic themes are always present in his works. The idea of homeland’s eternity is generalized in “Ravenna” poem (1926), which was written in Italy.
Isahakyan’s works artistic perfections are philosophically universal.
There is an annual award named after Avetik Isahakyan, approved by ASSR in 1980.
There are Isahakyan house museums in Yerevan, Gyumri, statues are installed, and streets are named after him not only in Gyumri and Yerevan but also in different parts of Armenia. Schools and libraries are named after Avetik Isahakyan.
Isahakyan is depicted on the ten thousand dram bill of the Republic of Armenia.
ARMEN TIGRANYAN (1879-1950)
Armen Tigranyan was a composer, conductor, honorable figure in the Armenian, Georgian USR and the founder of the Armenian national opera.
Armen Tigranyan played on flute at his early age, participated in school brass band concerts. His music talent was shaped by the Shirak music school, folk music and features of bard music. Famous artists, poets were common guests at his house, where literature-music evenings were organized.
In 1894 Tigranyan moved to Tbilisi with his family. In 1902 he graduated from courses of flute and music theory, (teacher Nikolay Klenovski), at the same time he took classes from Mark Ekmalyan. The same year Tigranyan returned back to Alexandrapol, organized school and folk a four-part choir and traveled with them to Tbilisi, Baku and Kars. His first works were composed at this period. In 1908 Tigranyan started working on his first opera called “Anush” (written by Hovhannes Tumanyan), which founded a new genre direction in the Armenian theater. Parts of the opera were played in Tblisi during the period. The opera “Anush” first was played in 1912 in Alexandrapol. During the next 30 years the composer referred to “Anush” and made some changes, additions and reconsidered the instrumentation.
The opera “Anush” was first played in Yerevan opera and bally theater in 1935, in Moscow in 1939. The opera is unique with its colorful sceneries of holidays and costumes, folk songs, duets and group singings. Music composed by Tigranyan is known as folk music.
Tigranyan also composed for (Tigran Khamuryan’s “In the crawls of darkness”, Armen Gulakyan’s “Dawn”, “Gigor”, “A drop of a honey”, (both written by Hovhannes Tumanyan), “Anahit” written by Ghazaros Aghayan, “Namus” written by Alexandr Shirvanzade, “Samvel”, “Davit Bek” both written by Raffi and others). Juzeppe Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and George Bize’s “Carmen” operas.
Streets, music schools in Yerevan and Gyumri have been named after Tigranyan, his statue has been placed in Yerevan’s circular park. There is a museum named after Armen Tigranyan in Gyumri.
SERGEY MERKUROV (1881-1952)
Sergey Merkurov was a 20th century significant sculptor. Sergey Dmitry Merkurov benefited the progress of soviet norms and professionalism, the strengthening of real and ultra commensurate methods, which for that time received the tribute of government’s propaganda. Merkurov graduated from the Munich academy of arts in 1905 then he settled down in Moscow in 1910.
Merkurov’s works had strictness typical to Egyptian monuments during the prerevolutionary period, (Dostoevsky’s and Tolstoy’s statues in Moscow). However, during the soviet times he was one of the most active implementers of Lenin’s propaganda, by creating Marks’s and Timiryazev’s statues. An exceptional place had been provided for Lenin’s image, one of the most demonstrative examples of which is the 16m granitic statue in the conference hall of the USSR supreme council, the 9m cooper state in Yerevan Lenin square (Republic square). He is also the creator of granitic statues of Shahumyan, Lomonosov, Dzerzhinsky and Stalin located in Yerevan.
One of the most outstanding monuments of the soviet period is the complex, expressive and tragic sculpture called “The fusillade of Baku 26 commissars” and the “Death of the leader” group sculpting.
Merkurov was awarded with USSR state prize and was a real member of the USSR academy of arts. He was granted with the title of the Leninakan honorary citizen. In honor of artist’s everlasting memory Leninakan’s art school was named after Merkurov in 1947.
VARDAN ACHEMYAN (1905-1977)
Vardan Achemyan was a director, an Armenian USR and USSR actor, social work hero and a state award laureate, he was one of the most significant representatives of the Armenian theatrical art during 1930-1970s.
Vardan Achemyan moved from Van to Yerevan during the 1915 exodus. His first encounter with the theater was at the age of 15 in Alexandrapol (Gyumri), where he played a small role.
In 1924 he graduated from Yerevan industrial college of fine arts (Fine Arts College named after Panos Terlemezyan) and Moscow Armenian drama studio in 1926.
He started dealing with theater in 1927 when he organized and staged the Armenian drama studio in Tbilisi, then performed at Leninakan Drama Theater, after which he was the artistic director of the drama theater named after Gabriel Sundukyan starting from 1939 and the general director from 1953. From 1944 he lectured at the institute of fine arts afterwards the general director of the music comedy theater during 1947–1950. Achemyan’s career start coincided with the period of theater’s development when the innovational spirit was dominating the traditions and the demonstration of phenomena required new staging means of expressions. One of the leaders of that turning point was Achemyan. His inspiration source for his works was the art of Evgeni Vakhtangov. It was not an incident that Hakob Paronyan’s “Honorable beggars” was compared with Vakhtangov’s “Princes Turandot” plays.
Achemyan created many classical values of stage art; Maksim Gorki “In the bottom”, William Shakespeare “Twelfth night”, Nairi Zaryan “Ara Geghetsik” etc. Number of plays had been performed in Yerevan music comedy theaters such as (Alexandr Shirvanzade “Morgan’s in laws”, Tigran Chukhatchyan “Karine” etc.), at opera and ballet theater “Davit Bek”, “Anush” etc. A. Shirvanzade’s “In the sake of honor” play staged by Achemyan reached its perfection. All of his performances were created with unique scenes of visual and accurate solutions. One of Achemyan’s significant works is Sundukyan’s “One more victim”, Wiliam Saroyan’s “My heart is in the mountains”, H. Paronyan’s “Paghtasar aghbar”, A. Shirvanzade’s “Decency”, Aramashot Papanyan’s “Yes, the world has turned upside down”, Vrtanes Papazyan’s “The cliff”, Gurgen Boryan’s “On the bridge”, Derenik Demirchyan’s “Motherland Armenia” and other performances. He was also shooting the “Smiles, the album of friendship movement” 1968, that is why he paid big attention to play’s artistic decorations.
Achemyan’s art was highly appreciated by the representatives of arts and critics of that time. Many articles and books were written about him.
Gyumri’s drama theater and one of the Los Angeles theaters is named after Achemyan.
HOVHANNES SHIRAZ (1915-1984)
Hovhannes Shiraz is one of the most individualistic figures of the 20th century. He entered in the literature as a new precursor, newly representing themes of homeland, nature, love, mother love and other traditional themes.
Hovhannes Shiraz (real name Onik Karapetyan), lost his father when he was a child and spent his childhood in the orphanage. He found his mother accidentally in a market, and with her advice he learnt shoemaking and then weaving.
From 1925–1932 he studied at one of his birthplace 7 year course school, then worked for the textile factory “Manatsagorts” newspaper, where his first poems were published in 1932. In 1941 he graduated from Yerevan State University then the Maksim Gorki Moscow Institute of Literature in 1956. From 1941–1945 he worked at “Soviet Armenia” editorial.
In 1935 his first poem book was published, called «Garnanamoot», where the poet’s individual features are expressed, with unique comments on his preferred themes, emotional expressions and depicted exceptional colors.
“Biblical” philosophical poem was published in 1946, with a character that is part of a big time laps, pain and suffering cleanse people from sins, by making them witty, miracle makers and searching, which makes their aspiration for perfection more reasonable.
All of the physiological love songs have found place in his works, flashing love, love delight, coldness, hope of the meeting, cheating, homesickness, pain, disappointment and hatred. (“On the string of a rainbow”, “Only love”, “World love”, “All being”, “Sounded the melody of the silent bells”, “Know like a glass…” etc).
Shiraz considers the 1915 genocide the “sins of all sins”. In “Hayots danteakan” the poet describes the century long foe’s vandalism, the indescribable tragedy of the Armenian people, migration, exile, the path of death.
The holy image of the mountain Ararat has became a unique inspiration for Shiraz poetry. Ararat is the inspiration of unity, steadfast power of the homeland. It is also the symbol of pain and bitter homesickness, the embodiment of the national memory; “The last testament”, “Ararat”, “The last will” etc.
Shiraz works have been translated into more than 40 languages.
Streets and schools have been named after Shiraz, in Yerevan, and other places in Armenia. In 2002, Shiraz house museum was opened in Gyumri, Yerevan (2005). His statue has been installed in Gyumri in 2007 (sculptor Ara Shiraz).
MINAS AVETISYAN (1928-1975)
Minas Avetisyan was an ASSR honorable artist, State and Martiros Saryan award receiver and one of the most significant representatives of the Armenian painting art during the 1960s.
From 1947–1952 Minas Avetisyan studied at Yerevan fine arts institute, from 1952–1954 at Yerevan find arts theatrical institute, in 1960 he graduated from Leningrad (currently St. Petersburg) institute of landscape painting, sculpture, and architecture.
Minas is a divers artist, he has over 500 canvases, hundreds of sketches, big scale fresco paintings, portraits, still life paintings. Bright and modest combinations of colors are typical to his art, the blending of the unique features of the Armenian nature and the vital expressions.
Minas's famous paintings are “Seasons of the year” (1960–1963), “My parents” (1962), “Meeting” 1965, “My father’s portrait” 1965, “At the threshold” 1967.
Minas had created painting representing the past and the present of the Armenian people; “On the way to Ter Zor” 1964), “Migration” 1965–1967, “The weaver” 1958, “The leaf collector” 1958, “Jajoor” 1960, “Bread making” 1963, “The churn whisk” 1964, representing the Armenian village life. His depictions were with colorful vivid contrasts, expressed bright, lyrical and sometimes tragic accent (“Portrait with thorns” 1967, “The Crucifixion” 1975).
Avetisyan also continued and creatively developed traditions of the Armenian miniature art. His splendid fresco paintings in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vahramaberd are very famous. In 1962, in Yerevan Opera and Ballet theater he decorate “The thee ballet-novel” (Joakino Rossini “Ladies in the world”, Moris Raveli “The Spanish girl, bolero”, George Gershivin “The negro district”), Sergey Prokovev’s “Cinderella”, Edgar Hovhannisyan’s “Antuni” ballets.
Minas died in a mysterious car accident, very little is known about that incident, unfortunately.
Artist’s works are displayed in numbers of museums around the world. In 1977 his studio-museum was opened in Yerevan.
FRUNZIK MKRTCHYAN (1930-1993)
A famous figure in theater and movie, people’s artist of Armenia, Georgia and USSR, Mher (Frunzik) Mkrtchyan had a big investment in the Armenian theatrical and directing art development. He had created the Mkrtchyan actor mask, which was the unique birth of a talent.
He studied at Leninakan drama studio, in 1956 graduated from Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts. In 1946 he was an actor in Leninakan drama theater, was noticeable for creating a unique actors’ figure, combining them with humor, with an ability of enriching the word. His best roles are Khlestakoov (Nikolay Gogl “Revisor”), Saghatel (Alexandr Shirvanzade “For the honor”), and Trufaldino (Karlo Goldoni “The servant of two landlords”. Mkrtchyan’s characters were “small” people with an unusual frankness, honesty and sincerity.
In 1953, Mkrtchyan was invited to Yerevan Gabriel Sundukayn Theater where he played until 1988. One of his first roles was Gdivon (Zhora Harutyunyan “Lie’s defect”).
From 1988, Mkrtchyan was Vardan Achemyan’s theater artistic director and the supervisor.
There are also many significant roles played by Mkrtchyan, such as Garsevan (“01–99”, 1959), Arsen(“The band guys” 1960), Gaspar (“Triangle” 1967), Ishkhan (“We are, and out mountains”, 1969), Nikol (“The old day song”, 1982), Ruben (“The tango of our childhood”, 1984) etc.
Mher Mkrtchyn was awarded with USSR (1978) and ASSR (1979) state prizes, also was awarded with posthumously RA St. Mesrop Mashtots medal (2001).
There are streets named after Mher Mkrtchyan in Yerevan and Gyumri, a marble plaque was installed on the wall of his Yerevan house (2003, sculptor Ferdinant Araqelyan). Mkrtchyan’s statues can be found in Gyumri (2004, sculptor Ara Shiraz) and in Vanadzor (2010, sculptor Aram Margaryan).