New Topics in Armenian History & Culture (afternoon)

New Topics in Armenian History & Culture (afternoon)


>>From the Library of
Congress, in Washington, D.C.>>Levon Avdoyan: I have the
pleasure of introducing someone who did research in the African
and Middle Eastern Division. I also have the pleasure
to introduce someone who, if we were giving an award
for innovative titles, would no doubt have
won it today. To a Professor — Assistant
Professor of History at Skidmore is going to speak
to us about “Biceps and Balls, Physical Culture in
Late Ottoman Bolis.” And for those who — of you
who don’t know what Bolis is, Bolis — Polis is the
Armenian word for Istanbul, Constantinople, and it
brings me great pleasure to introduce Murat Yildiz.>>Yay. [ Applause ]>>Murat Yildiz: Levon,
you’re too — too kind. So before I begin, I would like
to thank Levon and the Library of Congress for organizing
this amazing conference that really — I think, we
can all attest to this — that reveals the
breadth and richness of Armenian history and culture. It’s an honor to be here. My talk today, as Levon
mentioned, is entitled “Biceps and Balls, Physical Culture
in Late Ottoman Bolis.” Okay, so in fall 2010, I
started to conduct research for my dissertation
project in Istanbul. I initially envisioned the
dissertation as a study of the intersection of sports,
nation building, the body, and gender during
the late empire and early Turkish republic. And more specifically,
what I wanted to do was, I wanted to investigate the
ways in which the bodies of young men served as a
central site of nation-building. Like many Ottoman historians, I
started in the [foreign word], or the Ottoman archive for
the Prime Minister’s office, which basically —
which serves as the — as the primary repository
for state archival documents in Turkey related to
the Ottoman Empire. So my searches resulted
in me sifting through government reports
on physical education, and team sports in schools,
government programs, and voluntary associations. They offered a number
of insights into the burgeoning interest in sports throughout
Istanbul during the time. However, they left
me dissatisfied. They left me dissatisfied
for the following reason. The documents created
the impression that the Ottoman government was
the central actor in spreading, institutionalizing, and
popularizing sports. And in order to complicate
this narrative, I sought to diversify
my sources, and explore the representation
of sporting activities and institutions in the
expanding public sphere. And in order to do this,
I turned to the press. Magazines and newspapers
written in Ottoman Turkish from the period offered
a rich set of textual and visual coverage,
and discursive framing of team sports — mainly
soccer, gymnastics, competitions, and sports clubs. The Ottoman government wasn’t
absent in these conversations. However, it was de-centered
from the narrative. In other words, the Ottoman
government emerged as one of many actors, albeit an
incredibly powerful one, contributing to the spread
and popularization of sports in the center of the empire. And I found myself asking
what was the significance of these different
representations of sports. In order to answer
this question, I decided to bring these sources
and archives into dialogue. And I did so by reading
magazines in the morning, and files from the Ottoman
state archives in the evening. Now, this methodological
exercise revealed a number of insights, one of which was that some non-government
institutions were represented in certain places
and not in others. Specifically, I noticed
some clubs that emerged in government reports
were absent — were absent from
discussions in the press. Now, for example, this report — this report from the
Interior Ministry is a list of voluntary associations,
written in Ottoman Turkish, which included, but was not
restricted to sports clubs. Now, I was familiar
with some of these clubs from the sports press,
and others less so. I was familiar with
some — others less so. So one of the clubs, which I
hadn’t come across in the press, was the — and this is
the Ottoman spelling, Artivasat Gymnastique
Gymnyeti [phonetic]. And I’ll say something about
the spelling in a second. This was the spelling
in Ottoman Turkish. This is around — a
couple from — a couple — maybe one, two, three,
four, five from the bottom. Like all experienced researchers
— and this is a joke — I turned to the all-knowing
web for answers. I appreciate that [laughter]. Did not figure into
my table of contents. So these searches led me to
the work of Hayk Demoyan, who was at that — then,
and now, the director of the Armenian Genocide
Museum in Yerevan. Now, at the time, Demoyan had
recently organized an exhibition at the museum, and
published a book on Armenian sports
in the empire. Now, these project reveal — these projects reveal to me that Artivast Gymanstique
Gymyeti [phonetic] had another name, more than likely a more
commonly-used one during the time, and that was Cruchesmeh
Marnamasagan Artivast Ugumph [phonetic]. Now, why hadn’t I encountered
this club in other places, is the question that I ask? Were there other clubs,
and more specifically, were there other Armenian
clubs and figures excluded from the documents that
I had been reading? And if so, what was
the significance of this seemingly-separate
sporting world in late Ottoman Istanbul? Now, I asked myself whether
early 20th Century sports enthusiasts writing in Ottoman
Turkish knowingly excluded Armenians from their
discussions. In other words, were they
unaware of Artivasts [phonetic] and other Armenian
sports clubs’ activities, or were they knowingly
ignoring them? Now, an image of
three sportsmen seemed to indirectly provide
the answer. Now, this titillating image
featured three men posing and flexing their
divine — defined bodies. That was a slip, but
it was actually very enlightening [laughter]. Until that point, what had
captivated my attention about this and similar
images was the presentation of a gendered athlete
that was modern, strong, beautiful, and also exotic. The text, however, now offered
a whole new layer of meaning. Now, at the top of the page,
the top right part of the page, the text reads “our robust
bodies, [foreign word].” Now, the three men
are [foreign word], or the naval officer
[foreign word], or the gymnastic instructor
of Galatasaray club, and who was a major, [foreign
word], and the [foreign word]. Now, together, the text and
the images conveyed a number of points to readers. First, these were
robust, beautiful bodies. Second, these Turkish male
bodies were cultivated in sports clubs. They’re connected to — these figures are
connected to institutions. And third, these bodies
belonged to a group of people, not just themselves. Okay? So I asked, who were
claiming these bodies? Was it the magazine? Was it its readers, a broader
collective, a fan club? Was there a difference between
these different communities — communities of readers,
the magazine, or a broader collective? Now, I concluded that the
Ottoman Turkish sports magazine, through this image and others, was projecting an exclusive
reading of sports in Istanbul, one in which Ottoman
Turks were the main, if not the sole actors, okay? And in doing so, what
the magazine was doing — it was erasing the presence
of some Armenians — excuse me, some Ottomans, and
foregrounding the presence of others in the world
of sports in the city. Now, this conclusion haunted
me, because of its implications. Like the magazine, at that
time, I was contributing to the historical erasure
of many Ottoman citizens — more broadly, and more
specifically, Armenians. Now, I asked, could I write
an alternative history that accounted for, but did
not reproduce, this erasure? And if so, what would
this history look like? Was it different than the
project that I had set out to study as a
graduate student? So I concluded that
the answers were yes, I could write an
alternative history. However, in order to do so, I
needed to expand my analysis of the historical actors,
spaces, and institutions that made up physical
culture in late 19th and early 20th Century
Constantinople. What did this require? This required an expansion of
the project’s archives, sources, as well as the languages
that I used. And it was at this point that I
began to study western Armenian with a tutor, a very kind,
generous, and lovely tutor, and consult Ottoman Turkish,
but also Armenian sources. Now, this proved to be
an immensely challenging, but also rewarding exercise. Now, the new methodological
approach offered exciting insights into the ways in
which Ottomans, from a plethora of different ethno-religious
communities, shaped the defining
contours of sports as a shared civic
culture in Istanbul. As a result, this approach
fundamentally reconfigured the scope of the dissertation. And now, the metamorphosis of
the project enabled me to build on the insights of a
new body of scholarship that graduate students and
junior scholars of Armenian and Ottoman studies
were producing over the past decade, okay? Now, bringing together sources
written in a diverse array of languages, investigating
spaces, and transformations across ethno-religious
divisions, and refusing to treat communal boundaries
separating Armenians as Turks as historically static
and impenetrable. This new body of literature has
produced what historian Lerna Ekmekcioglu refers to
as an entangled history of the late Ottoman empire. And in doing so, this scholarship has made
significant contributions to both fields, but also
helped challenge this — basically, this divide
between — a firm divide between
Ottoman and Armenian studies. So what I’m going
to do now is — and this is what I’m going to do for the remainder
of the project. I’m going to focus on the
ways in which sports can serve as an under-studied lens through
which we can write an entangled history of the period. And specifically, I’m going to examine the ideal
masculine characteristics that Ottoman Turkish and Armenian sports enthusiasts
worked out in a variety of spaces in late
Ottoman Constantinople. Now, Ottomans from a variety
of professional stripes and interests contributed
to discussions about the ideal man
and his antithesis. Novelists, journalists,
intellectuals, as well as modernists,
all offered views on the defining characteristics
of this new type of man in the capitol more
specifically, but also other urban centers
of the Ottoman Empire, and the broader region. Now, a major contributor to these discussions was the
physical culture enthusiast. So during the late 19th
and early 20th Century — centuries, advocates of physical
exercise and team sports argued that it wasn’t sufficient for
a modern, middle-class man to study secular
subjects in school. This in and of itself
was a debate. But it wasn’t enough to
just study secular subjects in school, learn western
languages, work in an office, frequent social functions,
and dress in dapper clothes. He had to develop athletic
acumen, regularly exercise, and maintain a healthy
and robust body. Now, some of the earliest
contributors to discussions about the importance of physical
exercise in the construction of the ideal man were educators
in a variety of Ottoman schools. It was during this period
that educators introduce and gradually institutionalize
physical education into the curriculum of a number
of different type of schools — civil and military, foreign
missionary, and a diverse array of non-Muslim communal
schools — Armenian, Greek,
as well as Jewish. Now, two leading institutions
were Mekhtibi Sultani [phonetic], or the Imperial
School, and this is an image of young men posing from
the Imperial School, and Robert College. Now, Robert College was
founded as an American college, while Mekhtibi Sultani was
based on the French lysee model, and was a government
institution. Now, Turkish and
Armenian students at both institutions
were exposed to the idea that they needed to perform
physical activities in order to develop strength and athletic
prowess, build character, cultivate mental and
physical disciplines, as well as acquire a
competitive toughness. Educators asserted
that by exercising and cultivating these
characteristics on campus, students would develop
into physically, morally, and spiritually sound young men. According to supporters of
sports, the regular performance of gymnastics in particular
offered multiple benefits. One of the primary
ones was a strong, defined, and healthy body. There’s no debate there. Lifting weights, stretching, and exercising helped
students develop a firm body, and to fight off
different types of diseases. And this is the type of
language that is used in a variety of different
sources. This hygienic, beautiful body
was envisioned as a modern one. Okay, so what we’re doing
here — this stands — may stand out as a
beautiful body now, but what we’re seeing is
the historical production of that idea. And it was deemed
to be a modern body because its development required
work, discipline, and effort. Now, while gymnastics were
deemed an important physical activity at Mekhtibi Sultani and
many private minority schools, school officials at
foreign institutions such as Robert College
were more concerned with encouraging team sports,
and forming school teams. This is the Istanbul Dodgers. That’s a bad joke. It’s a baseball team
from Robert College. Educators believed that team
sports, such as baseball, soccer, and basketball,
even moreso than gymnastics, helped students build trust in
each other, cultivate a respect for rules, and develop a
commitment to teamwork. Soccer and basketball’s
popularity did not catch on — excuse me, basketball and baseball’s popularity did
not catch on, while soccer, on the other hand, did. Okay. Now, another space that
advocated a distinction vision of the relationship
between physical exercise and masculinity was
the sports club. So during this period
of the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
clubs — sports clubs mushroomed
in different neighborhoods around Istanbul as spaces
where young men could exercise. Now, upwardly mobile
Armenians and Turks, as well as Istanbulites from
various different backgrounds — ethno-religious backgrounds,
created and joined these clubs. And this — the emergence
of sports club is part of a broader transformation, and that transformation
was the creation of voluntary associations. Now, sports clubs
were predominantly, although not exclusively,
spaces of male sociability. And what they did was, they
represented crucial sites where historically-novel male
subjectivities were formed, negotiated, and performed. Now, what these spaces did
was, they attracted young — likeminded and like-bodied
young men by offering them a private space where they could spend their
leisure time training their bodies, performing
sports, socializing, and building homosocial bonds. So what you’re also seeing is
the creation of leisure time as a space that needs
to be filled with moral, productive activities, and the
sports clubs provided this. So what sports clubs did was,
they served as a testing ground, a testing ground of an emerging
middle-class masculinity in Istanbul where new
conceptions of the self, defined in relation to the
body, physical agility, a distinct look, and one’s
ethno-religious community came into being. Now, to a large extent, these clubs embraced
a shared civic vision of the defining characteristics
of middle-class masculinity. Young men needed to regularly
exercise, compete on the pitch, maintain a well-defined
physique, regularly bathe, shave their cheeks, wear
neat and dapper attire, attend social functions,
and also read. This is a litany of different
things that they needed to embody and to perform, and the sports clubs
provided the space in which they accomplished this. So at this — but the same time, these clubs also projected
an exclusive ethno-religious understanding of
masculinity and sports. So sports clubs were
established along ethnic and confessional lines,
and attracted members from a specific ethno-religious
community. And they served as spaces where young men built
ethnic-based solidarity around a popular
activity in the city. Now, clubs conveyed
their shared civic and exclusive ethno-religious
reading of masculinity in
a number of ways. So the main language and
symbols used, and the eponyms that organizations adopted
projected a distinct ethno-religious identity. So some clubs explicitly adopted
names — religious names, excuse me, while others
were named after a heroic or mythological figure of the
club’s respective community. So for example, the Maccabee
Jewish Gymnastic Society [assumed spelling], the Hercules
Gymnastics Association [assumed spelling], and the Armenian
Dork Club [assumed spelling]. Now, in doing so, club founders
sought to construct an awareness of the idea that the club
served as a modern fraternity of young men who were
inheritors of a deep history, a history of their
community’s corporeal strength, robustness, and valor. Now, club uniforms, which often
featured different scripts, ethno-religious symbols, and/or
posters conveyed the idea that this was an ethnically and religiously exclusive
fraternity of young men. So here we have the Besiktas
Ottoman Gymnastics Club. We have Ottoman Turkish
being used, and actually, in the back — this is
a fascinating image — there’s a verse from the Quran
with a bulging bicep as well. Obviously, you all have this
poster at your house [laughter]. And here’s an image of
the Armenian Dork Club. The — for — the title
doesn’t carry the same resonance that it does in Armenian,
and in English, obviously. Those Armenian speakers,
you can appreciate that. Now, a young Turkish and
Armenian man became a member of an athletic club
by agreeing to abide by the club’s internal
regulations. Here are internal regulations of the Dork Armenian
Physical Training Union, and the Galatasaray
Physical Training Club. And paying regular
membership fees. Now, after becoming a
member, what happened? He received an identity card,
which featured his name, and the date in which
he was registered. So what you’re seeing
is a cultivation of — cultivation, production, and
the performance of a self here, but also that’s part of a
broader community, right? Community of the Besiktas Club, or the Armenian Dork
Club, right? Now, what did membership
provide? It enabled young men access
to the various amenities that the clubs provided,
such as a gymnasium, a full set of gymnastics
equipment, and a shower, as well. And this is some of the ways in which clubs distinguished
themselves from others, right? Who had the best shower? Who had the best gym? I hear people laughing,
but, you know, this is serious stuff
[laughter]. How do you choose your gym? Now, these were things
that, you know, Bulsahais [assumed spelling] and other community members
were grappling with at the time. Now, membership also
enabled young men to perform their
athletic dexterity in newly constructed
spaces throughout Istanbul. So basically, new, cool spaces
where people would gather, such as stadiums,
gardens, and theaters. Soccer matches — more
properly, football matches, but we’re not talking
about the pigskin. We’re talking about the global
sport — athletic competitions, and gymnastics exhibitions
attracted large crowds of spectators. It facilitated both intra- and inter-communal
social interactions, and what it did was, it
celebrated the appearance of young men wearing club
uniforms and performing novel and physically challenging
activities. Now, many of the
athletic events, such as the Armenian
Olympics, or [foreign word], Maccabee’s annual
gymnastics tournament, as well as other shows
and competitions, were all organized
in the same space. And this was the main space. Oh, that’s of the
Armenian Olympic games, but that’s in the
same venue as this. This is the Union Club. And a number of these activities
maintained striking similarities as well. So sports clubs,
therefore, served as spaces in which young men cultivated
distinct notions of the self. Now, central to this
identity was the commitment to a distinct understanding
of the body. Now, Turkish and Armenian
members deployed photography as a means by which they
recorded their commitment to a shared corporeal look. Members had their photographs
taken while dressing in dapper suits, starched shirts
and ties, but also as well as posing bare-chested in
order to highlight their sense of style and beautiful physique. Now, there are two images
that I want to show you. So these images —
and they’re part of a broader kind
of sportsmen genre. The one on the right,
but also the left — and I think of them as two
sides of the same coin, that young men — upwardly
mobile young men had taken of themselves, and
also shared as tokens of friendship, and
potentially more. Now, these images provide
basically visual representations of these two interconnected
tastes and looks of the gentleman athlete, which club members
celebrated and promoted. The one on the left is Ali
Sami [assumed spelling], of the predominantly,
although not exclusively, Turkish Galatasaray
Physical Training Club. And I should note, because
this is being recorded, that I’m not a Galatasaray
fan, necessarily [laughter]. I appreciate that. As well as Yetvart [assumed
spelling], on the right, Shahonazar [assumed spelling] of the exclusively Armenian
Artivas Physical Training Club, okay? Now, sports clubs served
as one of the main spaces in which Istanbulites
contributed to a broader discussion about
middle-class masculinity. However, these were
not the only sites in which young men experimented
with these novel ideas. The press, for example,
was the more public — was a more public space
than the actual association. Now, the growth of
literacy and the mushrooming of reading rooms throughout
Istanbul and other urban centers of the empire ensured that a
wider array of the citizens — excuse me, of the
empire’s citizens. Not just members of athletic
associations, were visually and textually exposed
to the view that young men should regularly
exercise, perform gymnastics, and participate in team sports. So to rephrase, I
mean, think about it. You didn’t have to be a
member of a club in order to see men performing in
the stadium, the theater, and the garden, but
also, you could read about that in the press. And these were becoming
increasingly common, both in terms of the
publication of these ideas in daily newspapers, but also
specialized magazines, okay? And now, what these publications
did, or what they constituted, at least in my estimation,
is a public forum that provided Istanbul’s
growing reading public with articles focused on
particular sports, scouting, and other sport-related
leisure activities, but also on a wider array
of issues of health, hygiene, and lifestyle. And what these discussions
did was, they offered this aspiring
middle class with instructions and guides on how
to become young, modern men by playing sports,
having fun, exercising, and training their bodies. Now, while the physical culture
press embraced shared masculine ideals, like clubs, they
also conveyed exclusive ethno-religious ties. And this is accomplished
both through the languages that are used, as well as addressing its
reader, all right. So the fact that
Turks are addressed in an Ottoman Turkish
publication as the reader, or Armenians, and specifically
Armenians from Constantinople, suggests that the ideal reader
is from this community, right? And so, what you’re
having is the construction of an ideal Armenian self,
or an ideal Turkish self in these publications. So written by educators, leading
members and administrators of sports clubs, doctors, as
well as government officials, these publications insisted on
the idea that young men needed to regularly exercise. And they needed to exercise
not just at the gym — and this is what’s fascinating
about it, that you can exercise at the gym, in a
school, but also at home. So what you’re having is
the broadening of the spaces in which you can
cultivate a new self. Now, the sports press
regularly ran guides, and here’s an example
of a guide. An illustration in
text and image on the defining characteristics
of the ideal male body — proportionality, strength, and health were all
treated as interconnected. A person who maintained
a proportionate and defined body was
considered strong, healthy, attentive, and disciplined. Now, in addition to indicating
acumen and competency, the proportionate, flexible, and defined male body
was treated as beautiful. And this is a really
interesting point, how the term beautiful
is not — it’s — we’re seeing it being gendered, but it’s also applying
to men here. And you see both
the Ottoman Turkish, [foreign word] being used, and [foreign word] being
used in Armenian, okay? Journals soon created entire
sections for photographs of semi-nude young men
run as regular features. Here are two examples. The portrait — photographs
published in these magazines
included captions, and this is what’s
interesting, right. Without the captions,
these are just — these are bodies that you can’t
necessarily identify whom they belong — to whom they belong. But because they’re
collated with text, what you’re having
is the inscription of confessional difference
on these bodies, okay? So here is a body of Jervat Bey
[assumed spelling] on the left, and Wailim Safhibay [assumed
spelling] on the right, both identified as
Ottoman Turks. This is an image of
Krikor Hagopian, and again, you have the inscription on
that body as an Armenian body with the Armenian text. In addition to this, there’s
a description of that body. Here’s — and the
description is the following. It refers to Levon
Hagopian [assumed spelling] and his brother. His brother’s image doesn’t
make an appearance next to his, and the description
is the following. “They are among the few
Armenian youth who take care of their bodies and
glorify the Armenian name through their bodies, will,
and muscle,” end quote. That’s an intense sentence. So together, what these
images are doing is, they’re establishing that
these bodies — and again — and I haven’t really
talked about this yet, but this is a global phenomenon
at the time, in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Levon is raising his hand. He’s agreeing with me. No, he’s not. But these — this image of Levon
Hagopian [assumed spelling] — and Levon is a beautiful
Bolsahai [assumed spelling] man, but that — Levon can be found
in Paris, in New York, right, in upstate New York — hat’s
where I currently live. Saratoga Springs, Los Angeles — but it can also be
found in Bolis. And now, because that body
is identified in Istanbul as a beautiful body in the
imperial capitol, it’s global, but it’s also imperial. With the text and the
publication of that body in this publication,
it’s also confessional. So simultaneously, that
body is rendered global, imperial, and confessional. Now, while educators in the sports press
treated physical exercise as the primary means to construct the
defining characteristics of the ideal man, other
voices promised quicker and less conventional ways. Istanbul’s multi-lingual
daily press is replete with advertisements for pills,
which promised to provide men with vigor and muscle. So an early 20th Century
advertisement, for example, addresses, quote, “those who have lost the strength
of youth,” end quote. So these are pills that promise to provide people
strength, okay? Now, other products sought to
help men who were impotent. Strong, beautiful, and
healthy men were supposed to have a strong sex drive. So — I know it’s a
shock to all of us here. Here’s an a-historical
statement that I’m making. Impotence was a sign
of weakness, okay? Now, Amrita [assumed spelling]
— this is a publication — excuse me, a type of — an ad,
and a product, served as one of the most well-known
products that promised to restore the virility to
all impotent men of all ages in the capitol who, quote,
“conduct a regular life, but silently suffer from the
mistakes of their youth.” And we can hear dun, dun, dun. Amrita ran identical
advertisements in Ottoman Turkish,
Armenian, Greek, and French daily newspapers in
order to reach these poor souls in the — in the capitol, who
were all afflicted by these — who were all afflicted
by impotency. And here’s the —
here are the ads. Now, these two advertisements
publish an identical caricature of an dapperly dressed gentleman
and the following headline. “Only for men, an important
announcement for those who have lost the
strength of the body.” Now, the advertisement is — you know it opens a really
interesting question about, you know, marketing. I don’t know how successful
they were, because there’s a lot of text here, but the
text is very rich, in terms of what it
— it goes on to talk about how people actually
become impotent, what are some of the immoral activities
that they engage in. Alcohol is one of them. Gambling is one of them,
and, I should warn you, dark and thick tea — and tea
as well, according to Amrita. So if you have had a lot of tea
and coffee today, you may want to look into Amrita [laughter]. Okay? According to the product. Now, it goes on. It says, “I have prepared a
miraculous and effective pill that will give hope
and joy to those who are afflicted by impotency. This pill that I have
invented will heal the health of those men who have
been completely weakened because of bad practices, or
have been under the infrequence of unfavorable circumstances.” Keeps that kind of broad. “This cure that I have invented
is a blessing for everyone. It gives everyone
health and strength.” Now, what’s going on here? At first glance, gymnastics
guides and advertisements for pills and tonics published in Istanbul’s multi-lingual
press seem to be fundamentally different. However, I would argue they
maintain striking similarities. They all — they’re
all concerned with helping men
rejuvenate their bodies. And as a result, they
provide an insightful window into the diverging approaches
that educators, writers, manufacturers, and
advertisers proposed that the ideal man adopt
in order to be a strong, beautiful, and virile body. Now, moreover, these conflicting
approaches constituted an emerging market, which treated
the body as a central site of male subject formation. Now, in conclusion, the writings
of educators about sports, physical culture, the
activities of club members — they all demonstrate that
young men articulated and performed their
gendered identity by cultivating a defined body
and regularly exercising, and were reading about exercise
in late Ottoman Istanbul. Together, sports, sports clubs,
and the press served as spaces where Istanbulites from
a variety of backgrounds, including Armenian and
Turkish, experimented with new conceptions
of the self. Now, while I have demonstrated that Ottomans espouse similar
views about the importance of physical exercise,
techniques of the body, and athletic acumen, I have also
attempted to highlight the fact that Ottomans worked out
these ideas within spaces that projected exclusive
ethno-religious ties, and that were firmly divided
along confessional lines. Thus, these clubs and the press
might’ve embraced the share masculine ideal, but they
also cultivated an exclusive ethno-religious identity among
their readers and members. Now, this, I want to stress,
should not be interpreted as contradictory, at
least in my estimation. On the contrary, I think
it invites us to examine — and I’m speaking
to all historians of the time period, really. It invites us to examine
the ways in which Turks and Armenians experimented with
and shaped the defining contours of other novel practices,
beliefs, and norms within the boundaries of ethno-religious
communal spaces in a late imperial session. Thank you for your attention. [ Applause ]>>Levon Avdoyan:
Thank you, Dr. Yildiz. Our next speaker is a dear
friend of mine, and a colleague of many, many years, Theo van
Lint, who is the professor of Armenian studies
at Oxford University. He has chosen one of my favorite
poets of the 20th Century — as a matter of fact, one of my
favorite Armenian poets ever. His talk is on “Poetry,
Patria, and Pedigree, Eghishe Charents’ Monuments
and the Muse’s Discontent.”>>Theo marten van
Lint: Thank you, Levon, for organizing this
wonderful gathering. I am sorely tempted to
do 10 pushups before I — [laughter] before
I start [laughter]. From the poetry of
the body to the poetry of the Muse’s Discontent,
so — [laughter]. Thank you very much. Yes, so you see, friendship
blossoms in many ways, and leads to all
kinds of things. “Poetry, Patria, and Pedigree,
Eghishe Charents’ Monument, and the Muse’s Discontent.” A poem rarely exists
entirely on its own, revealed by divine inspiration
without any cultural context. Almost every aspect of it
exists thanks to a network of conventions, applied
and tweaked anew in a never-ending flow
of creative activity. These carefully-chosen
conventions carry particular meaning, and their application
by poets through space and time is potentially
very powerful, as they place their
work both in a tradition and in their own
contemporary context. My contribution today
addresses this double phenomenon of conventionality and
contextualization through a poem by the Armenian modernist
poet, Eghishe Charents. It was the poem that
triggered these considerations, not the phenomena addressed. For me, the source of the study
of literature is the text, from which all else follows. In January 1934, Charents
finished a poem called “Monument” in Armenian,
which is a first indication that something particular
is going on. So “Monument” — the poet could
have called it [foreign word], the usual and indigenous
Armenian word. Why use a word that had clear
western and ancient overtones? In fact, it hails
back to a famous poem by the Latin poet Horace
that is [foreign word], written just over
2000 years ago. Its opening line
is [foreign word], “I erected a monument
more durable than bronze.” The connotation with classical
imperial commemoration is visually present as
well, as you can see. The date is in Roman letters, in
literally monumental capitals. They are not Armenian
ones, which are used to indicate numbers as well,
as you know, or Arabic numbers, as is common in the western
world, and as it was also in the Soviet Union, where
Charents wrote his poem. Yet, the reference
is not direct. It does not bridge 2000
years without intermediary, because the opening words of
Horace’s poem, [foreign word], are the motto of a famous
Russian poem Eghishe Charents knew very well. It was written in — a
Century earlier, in 1836, by Russia’s national poet,
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin. This is its opening line. [foreign word], “I erected
a monument for myself, not made by human hands.” What’s going on here? I’d like to spend the time
allotted to this talk trying to suggest some answers
to this question. First, let us look at the poems. That’s always the most fun. Latin, Russian, and Armenian —
I began with the Armenian one. So here it is, “Monument.” [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] Twelfth of January, 1934. In English — whoops, this
is the young Charents, more or less, returned from the
fighting around Van in 1915. This is Charents as he may have
looked when he wrote the poem. And this is the English
translation. “I erected a monument for
myself in a difficult age — ” in a fraught age, perhaps — “when everything was
going to ruin around me, that for many years, for
centuries, had stood, and had seemed immortal
in the world. I wove my monument out of
songs profound and complex, from thoughts that are red
hot anew, that carry life in themselves, that can
flow in gushing forth from the fiery heart of my age. I was born in Kars. However, in my soul, the song
of Iran was always a flame, like an old native yearning
unquenched, but the native land of my soul became
the entire world.” This is an image of the Church
of the 12 Apostles in Kars, with the elevated
castle in the background. You can just about see it. Now we go back 2000 years. This is a newspaper photograph
of Horace declaiming his poem in front of his audience. I will read this in Latin in a very approximate
meter, I must say. It’s not simple to follow this. So I will make mistakes. Let it be recorded. [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] And this is another 19th Century
impression of Horace, you see, wearing the laurels
of the poet king. The English translation here, which will give us some more
insight, is by Ted Loker, taken from the all-present
internet. “I have created a monument
more lasting than bronze, and higher than the royal
site of the pyramids, which neither harsh rains nor
the wild north wind can erode, nor the countless
succession of years, and the flight of the seasons. I will not entirely
die, and a large part of me will avoid the grave. Constantly renewed, I will grow
in the eyes of posterity so long as the Pontifex and the solemn
Vestal visit the Capitoline. Where the River Aufidus
roars, and where Daunus in the dry summers,
ruled his rural folk, I, risen to greatness from humble
beginnings, will be renowned as the first to adapt
the Aeolian verses to Italian meters. Take the well-deserved
pride, Melpomene, and freely grant me the wreath
of Apollo for my crown.” Personal fame and prowess as poets are central
to Horace’s poem. Horace is one of the
most-quoted classical authors in western civilization. The Dutch big dictionary has
250 quotations from his work that phonated into
21st-Century Dutch. The reason for his fame,
however, does not lie in the fact that
he was the first to put Greek verse
into Latin meter. That is of less importance
to us than it was to him. To trace the itinerary
of Horace’s work of almost two millennia
is not my intention here, nor can I trace the particular
root the Horace reception took in Russia. But through 18th Century ground
tours and enlightenment context, including the strong
presence of French literature, as well as their
school curriculum, well-educated youngsters
like Alexander Pushkin — or Sasha Pushkin, as he
would’ve been then — would have gained
knowledge of the classics. And here is Pushkin. And he is again, without Getty. [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] And [inaudible]. “I’ve raised myself a monument
not made by human hands. The path of the people to
it will never grow over. Its insubordinate
hat has risen higher than the Alexandrian pillar. No, I shall not fully die. The soul in my faithful
lyre shall survive my dust, and shall escape putrefaction,
and I shall be famous wherever in the sub-lunar world
even a single poet lives. Tidings of me will go out over
all great Rus — ” Russia — “and every tribe in every
tongue will name me, the proud descendant
of the Slavs, the Finn, the Tungus who is now savage,
and the steppe-loving Kalmyk. And for long shall I
remain loved by the people, for awakening noble
feelings with my lyre, because in my cruel age, I have
celebrated freedom and called for pity to the fallen. Oh, muse, be obedient
to the command of God. Do not be fearful of abuse. Do not demand a crown. Accept both praise and
slander with indifference, and don’t dispute with fools.” This is Pushkin, what
he may have looked like in 1836, by Pyotr Sokolov. The translation of this
poem is by Catriona Kelly, professor of Russian at Oxford,
who makes it a central pillar of her admirable, very
short introduction to Russian literature. One may wonder, what binds these
particular three poems together, so wide apart in time and space? The interrelationship between
poems mentioned at the opening of this presentation
and the trivial fact of temporal sequence
give partial answers. Charents built from Pushkin,
who built from Horace, while Charents was, himself, part of the Russian-language
reception of Horace. Charents, the communist Armenian
poet, was raised on the Russian and western European culture,
apart from the Armenian one. The Latin poetic tradition does
not have a strong reception in Armenian literature, quite
in distinction to the Greek one, which is overwhelmingly
present from the beginning of the Armenian written
tradition in the fifth Century. It was only from the early
modern period onwards, through the highly successful and culturally savvy Armenian
merchants, as we have seen, and the Catholic
Armenian Methodist fathers that [inaudible] and post
[inaudible] European classical reception entered
Armenian literature. In the poems, a set of
binary oppositions seem to present themselves — poet
and patron, poetry and politics, native region and the wider
world, and the direction from local to
world-encompassing. And two more construed
ones, perhaps, fame versus civilization,
and the combination of poetry with freedom over against
empire and oppression. The latter opposition makes
itself more clearly heard in Pushkin and Charents
than in Horace. The life and work of all
three poets was defined, to some extent, by a
patron, with all the shades that word can muster, Maecenas. This literally was the name
of the protector-become-friend of the down and out Horace,
who was superbly gifted but financially broke after he
had sided with the Republicans in the Civil War
following the murder of Caesar — Julius Caesar. Horace had received the best
possible education in Rome, and then in Athens among
the elite of the empire. Horace was then introduced by
Virgil, the other great poet, to Maecenas, who
gave him a villa, and thus the leisure
to write quietly. I would like that [laughter]. Ere long, Augustus, the
emperor, offered him a position as his personal secretary,
which he refused. He also kept intrusions into his
independence by Maecenas at bay. This is a paradigmatic example of the way artistic independence
is maintained in the need of patronage, and how
recognition can be an even greater threat to it. Being Augustus’ personal
secretary would’ve left him neither the leisure to
write, nor, one must assume, the freedom to choose
his own themes. I mean, this is 2000 years ago. It’s still very actual. Directly comparable are the
cases of Pushkin and Charents. The latter was embraced
by the socialist system with state and art patronage. Pushkin was a small
aristocrat of mixed heritage. He also received the
best possible education, the elite lysee of [inaudible],
followed by a life dedicated to poetry and court
cavorting, or carousal. However, Pushkin’s outspokenness
soon earned him exile. Then, his poetic career took
a turn, evoking Horace’s fate. Following the Decembrist
uprising of 1825, Pushkin was interrogated
by the Tsar in person. The poet came out
with honor intact, but had to accept the favor of the emperor’s
personal censorship. In practice, this
meant subjection to Count Alexander Benckendorff,
founder of the secret police, precursor of the KGB,
to the an institution that might lend him another
term of exile, or worse. We find echoes of this in
one line in Pushkin’s poem. You may wonder which one. [foreign word], “in my cruel
age, I have celebrated freedom.” This line recurs, in fact, in the opening line
of Charents’ poem. Nothing here about the
quality of the monument, as in Horace’s more durable than
bronze, and Pushkin’s not made by human hands, which by the
way is a reference to ikons, that are not made
by human hands. But “I erected a monument for
myself in a difficult age,” followed by the devastating,
dystopian lines allowing for an interpretation
denouncing the revolution he had so enthusiastically
embraced two decades earlier, as well as mourning
the genocide of 1915. “When everything was
going to ruin around me that for many years, for
centuries, had stood, and that seemed immortal in the
world” — the end of tradition, the end of immortality. Does Charents predict his
own immortality instead? The last minutes allotted
to me, I would like to spend on Charents’ trajectory — in particular, a brief
consideration of the state of the art of poetry, and by
extension, but flowing from it, the value of the word
in today’s society. Where we stand, there seems
ample reason for caution, seeing the value of the
word in politics here in the United States,
in the United Kingdom, and in my native Europe. Where it is difficult
to find people capable to unite the remnants of
humanistic culture based on the Greek Judeo-Christian
tradition into a vision for the continent in danger
of caving in once again to ignorant populism
and rampant nationalism. Here, the muse’s discontent
comes to the fore in full force, as it had in Pushkin’s
and Charents’ poems. For we must be aware of the fact
that both our disenchantments of Horace’s triumphant
proclamation of a victory of poetry over politics,
and more generally, of culture over politics — after all, he had erected
a monument more durable than bronze, the stuff
emperor’s statues are made of. He might just as well have
mentioned the word marmer — marble. Moreover, if Pushkin’s laconic
final advice to the muse, and to himself, [foreign word],
“and don’t’ dispute with fools,” betrays a trust in rational
persuasion, in Charents, we find a completely
different emphasis, one that in my view
is now more actual than it has been for some time. [foreign word], “the native land of my soul became
the entire world.” This is both a return
to Goethe’s ideal of [foreign word],
world literature, and one to socialist — to
the socialist international, if you want — an overcoming of
nationalism and limiting origins in a forward-looking movement
towards a better world. Much could be said about this, as it represents a typical
Charentsian paradox, in particular in
his later years. The communists denouncing
totalitarianism, and the cosmopolitan atheists
returning to the religious great of his native Armenian
tradition, [foreign word], even more appreciated by him. Possibly an understandable
preference, given the free poet’s
temperament, but this is not the time
and place to go into that. What does need to be noted
is the seemingly veering away from poetics to psychology. Charents gives pride
of place to the soul. In fact, what happens here is,
on the one hand, a consequence of the socialist realist forging
of new souls, interpreted, one is tempted to say, without
the encumbrance of ideology. Of that, Charents had, by now,
become more than a little wary, of which the opening stanza of the poem eloquently
bears witness. On the other, it is a
consequence of the power of the alternative to the
ideology of nationalism, the dire consequences of
which he had witnessed in a genocidal attempt by the
Ottoman Turkish government at the annihilation
of his people under cover of World War I. Precisely how the whole
world became the native land of his soul is intriguing,
because that is through the poetry, through
the power of the word. Therefore, no veering away, in
fact, from poetry after all, but the strengthening
of the bond between poetry and personality. The last years of Charents
life, in particular, bear eloquent witness to this. He set out on a journey
of absorption and creative expression while
his life was in constant peril. His work was taken away
from him, as were his wife and children, and soon, his
health and freedom as well, followed by death in prison. The pressure must
have been unbearable. On 28th March, 1937, he writes,
in quiet recognition of the fact that he turned 40, and had
been a poet for 25 years, “I am celebrating my double
jubilee, alone, and persecuted, a poet exiled in
his own fatherland.” The late Charents awaits
deeper exploration, and offers both pearls
and cups of bitterness. The philological situation
of his later work is very, very difficult, due to the
fact that it had to be buried in the ground, and
we don’t have anyone to tell us how he
would have liked to have eventually edited it. And so we have various
editions of his work that bear no relationship to one
another, nor a real account — accountability of how
these are represented. There is a parallel
with the work of Osit Mumbo Schtum
[assumed spelling]. However, Osit Mumbo Schtum’s
widow knew everything by heart, and knew what he had
wanted to do with it. So there was a big
difference there as well. In 1937, Charents was somber about what he proclaimed
in his monument. It had been — despite the
clearly disillusioned tone, at least been partially
triumphant. So he says, and there are
five separate lines published together, in one case with
the fifth one lacking — [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] — “you were born null
and void, like a number with a zero overlooked. In Kars, you may have been born, but the world was
your fatherland. Kars, and Maku [assumed
spelling], and the world — which was your land, poet? Kars, and Maku, and the world —
all of it was your land, poet. Woe to you, Charents,
either way. Neither your song nailed
it, nor your life.” Charents’ restlessness in his final years
does not seem directed at the realization
of a political ideal. It has become clear that the
communist experiment is both a farce and drenched in blood. The poet’s remaining energy is
directed at two areas of life, it seems, and this
needs checking — poetry, and the exploration
of religions, always engaged for the good of humanity. What the conclusion has to
be about the relationship between poetry and politics
is unclear so far, for me. A political system
that murdered poets by the dozens clearly took the
poet word extremely seriously, feared it, and tried to kill
poet and destroy poetry itself. Poetry is a means to find truth,
to insist on honesty in life and society, forms part of the
wider endeavor to speak truth to power, beginning with
oneself — truth to oneself. Dire experience stripped
Charents of all pretense, and in the end, what
remained was the word, the word that had also been
there in the beginning. A contemporary of Charents,
W.H. Auden, in January 1939, commemorating the death
of William Butler Yeats, wrote three poems, in the second of which the following
movement occurs. “Poetry makes nothing happen. It survives in the valley of
its making, flows on south from ranches of isolation
and the busy griefs, raw towns that we
believe and die in. It survives, a way of
happening, a mouth.” Auden finishes the third and
final poem as a blind song, in assured way keeping intact a
belief of the power of the word as life-creating, and
as a life-giving gift. You probably know it. It’s a fantastic poem. “Follow, poet. Follow right to the
bottom of the night. With your own constraining
voice, still persuade us to rejoice. With the farming of a verse,
make a vineyard of the curse. Sing of human unsuccess
in a rapture of distress. In the deserts of the heart,
let the healing fountain start. In the prison of his days, teach
the free man how to praise.” Such was the monument erected. Did Charents seek to fathom
similar deep wellsprings? Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Levon Avdoyan:
Thank you, Theo. Please do not break your leg. Yes. We should’ve had
stairs on this side, too. Again, my thanks for that
wonderful talk on Charents, and now we go from friend to
friend and scholar to scholar. And a denizen of Washington,
D.C., and the director of analytical support and
production staff in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research
of the Department of State, Robert Krikorian, who will
speak on the “Re-appropriation of the Past, History
and Politics in Soviet Armenia, 1988-1991.”>>Robert Krikorian:
Thank you very much. As a government employee,
I have to start with my standard disclaimer that my views do not
reflect those views of the U.S. government,
and that will probably come as no surprise [laughter]. Let me first really give
a most sincere thank-you to my dear friend,
Levon Avdoyan. Levon has been a friend and
a mentor for 32 years now, having met in 1986 when I first
made it down to Washington, D.C. So I have learned
a tremendous amount, both from him personally and
from all the wonderful programs that he has put on
through the Library of Congress, so thank you. Thank you, Mary Jane. What I would like to do
today is tell a few stories, and some of the stories
that I will tell, some of you have lived through. And some of you have
helped me with my research, like my dear friend,
Nerses Hayrapetyan. So what I am going to do is to
look at the role of history, how history is remembered,
and the role that played in undermining communist
legitimacy in Soviet Armenia from the years 1988 to 1991. This is part of a much larger
project that I undertook, but what I would
like to do for today for a few minutes is
extract the parts that relate to how the first Republic of Armenia was remembered
in Soviet Armenia. Because this is being
the 100th anniversary of the Independent
Republic of Armenia, I thought it might
be a good pairing. In terms of context,
let me just say that I had the extraordinary
good fortune of living in Soviet Armenia
from 1988 to 1991, during the last three
years of soviet rule. I got to Soviet Armenia
through a program that the soviet government
had organized for all ethnic Armenians abroad to get an education
in Soviet Armenia. Now, I did not need
a soviet education. I had an American education that
I was perfectly satisfied with, but I did not speak Armenian. So I went to learn Armenian,
and it so happened to coincide with the — really
the renaissance of the Armenian nation. And so, for three
years, I got to witness. I got to participate. I got to observe, and I
got to gather lots and lots of material along the way that I was never quite sure
what I was going to do with. But I knew that what I was
witnessing was important, and so when I went back to
graduate school later in life to write a doctoral
dissertation, I used a lot of that material to try to
make sense of what had happened in Armenia in those
three very short, but very, very intense years. Right? We have a sweep
of Armenian history that goes back millennia, but in
that very short period of time from 1988 to 1991, the
whole world changed. Not just Armenia, but
the whole world changed. No one predicted the
collapse of the Soviet Union, except for someone
named Andrei Amalrik, who wrote a bookWill
the Soviet Union Last
Until 1980 — Survive
Until 1984
. Unfortunately, he
died before that, before the Soviet
Union fell in 1991, so he didn’t even get
a chance to see that. What I would like to do is
talk a little bit about — again, to contextualize
about historical narratives, and the role that they play. They’re really the —
kind of the cornerstones of anyone’s identity, right? We have narratives in
the United States, right? The words we use matter. They connote either
where we stand socially, economically, or politically. Interestingly, in the Soviet
Union, history was one of the first things that the
soviet state appropriated. Imagine 1917 to the — you know,
when the revolution broke out, and then the following years of
civil war, foreign intervention. The soviet state — the
Bolshevik party was fighting for its very survival. Yet, it devoted very limit —
its very limited resources — it devoted a considerable amount
of resources to making sure that it controlled
the historical record. It created something
called [foreign word], a party committee
devoted to history, and devoted to making sure that the narrative supported the
ideological goals of the state. So what that means is
that, in the Armenian case, Armenia inherited the soviet
system, the soviet ethos, if you will, but they never
accepted it wholeheartedly. And there was always a
little pushback, right? There was always
a little tension between what the soviet
central authorities wanted, and what the Armenian Soviet
Socialist Republic actually did. So I think there
are two quotes — and we don’t have the
makeup artist here to try to dampen the moisture, but
hopefully that won’t come out too badly on film. There’s two quotes that
I would like to use. In the Soviet Union, every profession had a
professional journal. If you were a tractor driver in
Ufa, you had your own journal. If you were a tube
player in Krasnoyarsk, you had your own journal. Well, the historians had their
own journals, too, right, and one of them was called
[foreign word], “Problems or Questions of History.” And every issue started with an
editorial, right, and that kind of laid out what the party
line would be for that issue, and kind of where
soviet history stood. So there’s a wonderful quote
from 1960, and it says, “The study of history has
never been a mere curiosity, a withdrawal into the past
for the sake of the past. Historical science — ” and everything for
them was a science, so — “historical science
has been, and remains, an arena of sharp
ideological conflict.” Now, perhaps more indicative
of this approach would be from Nikita Khrushchev, who
had a reputation, let’s say, for being somewhat more
earthy in his pronouncements, and he declared that “Historians
are dangerous people. They are capable of
upsetting everything. They must be directed.” So that is the backdrop for
what I will now present, and I have my clock here. Tell me, what time would
you like me to stop? It is 2:26. Okay. So, the reassessment
of history at the end of soviet rule in Armenia — it
didn’t take place in isolation. It occurred simultaneously
with and as an integral part of unprecedented
political, economic, social, and intellectual changes
that were taking place, a result of Gorbachev’s
policies of Glasnost. Developments in any one of these
spheres — political, economic, social, intellectual —
influenced the nature and pace of change in the others in
an interconnected process that culminated in the collapse
of soviet power in Armenia, and the reestablishment
of an independent state. These processes, in turn, were
deeply influenced by events in other parts of the Soviet
Union and eastern European. Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of Glasnost gave
the initial impetus to a more open discussion of the problems facing
soviet Armenian society. These early discussions,
which focused on topics of contemporary relevance,
such as the environment, the state of education
in the republic, the status of the Armenian
language, Armenian culture, also included an important
historical component, as Armenians strove to
understand the origins of the problems affecting
their society. The search for the roots of
environmental, educational, and cultural questions in Armenia inevitably
involved the study of history. For example, environmental
degradation was traced back to the industrialization
policies of Stalin, which led to a closer look
at Stalin’s other policies in Armenia, including the
drawing of borders and the loss of Karabakh and Nakhchevan
to Azerbaijan. The exploration of these
issues soon gave way to a more broadly-based
reevaluation of the soviet and pre-soviet Armenian
historical experience. The emphasis on historical
issues was of more than just academic interest. It had political
implications as well. Historical interpretation in
Armenia was given relevance in February of 1988 with
the spontaneous formation of a mass social movement
throughout Armenia agitating for the secession of the Nagorno-Karabakh
autonomous district from Azerbaijan, and its
unification with Armenia. The borders of Nagorno-Karabakh
were established in the early 1920s with the
direct participation of Stalin, who arranged for the
region to be placed under the administration
of soviet Azerbaijan. It was this perceived
historical injustice that mobilized the Armenians
into action, with the hope that under Glasnost,
a rectification of borders might be possible. Using history as a means
to demonstrate the justice of their cause, Armenians began
to draw wider historical lessons from their experiences
in the pre-soviet and early soviet periods, which
steadily led to the undermining of soviet legitimacy in Armenia. In order to increase
their chances of resolving the Karabakh
issue to their satisfaction, Armenians turned to
history to demonstrate that the region was historically
Armenian, and should be placed under the control of Yerevan. They pointed to the involvement
of Stalin and the injustice that had occurred under soviet
Azerbaijani administration throughout the years. This instrumental use of
history by the Armenians in 1988 was just the beginning of a full-fledged historical
reassessment of Armenia’s past, the outcome of which would
have profound implications for the entire nation. The process of historical
reassessment was fundamentally altered by the February-March
pogrom against Armenians in the Azerbaijani
industrial city of Sumqayit. That event, more than any
other, changed the course of events in soviet Armenia. It broke a tacit social contract
between the soviet state and the Armenian people,
which had been in place since the early days
of soviet rule. This social contract
assured Armenian acquiescence to soviet rule in exchange
for the physical security and protection from the Turks, Armenia’s most serious
security threat. Although this might not
seem like much of a bargain, it must be viewed in the context
of the atrocities perpetrated against Armenians in the
Ottoman Empire in 1915. Despite the atrocities committed
under Lenin and Stalin, they never reached the
same level of intensity. This geopolitical reality
allowed Armenians to come to terms with soviet
rule in their country. The memory of 1915 was kept
alive throughout the years of soviet rule by
survivors, by scholars, and by the intense feelings
of the general public. The persistent denial by successive Turkish
governments only served to deepen the importance
Armenians attached to their national tragedy. The events at Sumqayit had a
profound impact on Armenians, and resurrected painful
historical memories and images. The close ethnic and linguistic
ties between Azerbaijanis and Turks only served to
reinforce the connection between the two events in
the minds of most Armenians. Sumqayit occurred so
close to the beginning of the democratic movement in
Armenia that it is impossible for this event not to
indelibly mark the course of the movement from the outset. Thus, from the very beginning,
the struggle over Karabakh, and the creation of a national
democratic movement in Armenia, perception of current
events was colored by an understanding of the past. And conversely, a
particular reading of the past influenced the ways in which the present
was seen and understood. History and politics,
inextricably linked in Armenia in the years leading up to the
dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the interconnection between
the two played a leading role in the determination
to secede from the USSR and reestablish an
independent state. The interpreters of the Armenian
past were not just historians, but intellectuals
more generally. And their deconstruction
of the soviet narrative, so laboriously fabricated over
70 years of communist control, would prove decisive
in the process of redefining Armenian
national identity, and laying the groundwork for a
post-soviet Armenian identity. Through the use of the mass
media and publishing houses, Armenian historians and other
intellectuals reshaped popular perception of the past, which
in turn influenced the present. The reassessment of history in Armenia was neither
completely elite-driven, nor did it emanate
exclusively from below. Instead, it was a symbiotic
process, in which historians and other intellectuals
commenced with a wide-ranging debate
about the past at the same time that the general reading
public was getting excited about the fresh interpretations
made possible by Glasnost. Popular interest in the past
meshed with a renewed interest and renewed spirit
of scholarly inquiry, as historians began
the dismantling of soviet revisionism. This resulted in nothing
less than a revolution in thinking among soviet
Armenians about themselves, and their place in the world. Having become accustomed over
the years to be skeptical of the heavy-handed
soviet approach to history, the Armenian reading public
greeted Glasnost warmly, and showed great interest in the new interpretation
of their past. Armenian skepticism,
in part, was a result of the clumsy nature
of soviet revisionism. It was also the result of the
extensive use of oral history in Armenia as the elder
generations passed down to the younger
generation memories of a pre-soviet and
non-soviet past. Discussion of the independent
1918 to 1920 pre-soviet Republic of Armenia was closely connected
to and occurred simultaneously with reinterpretation of events
such as the liberation movement, the Armenian Genocide,
et cetera. This was understandable, as
many of the leading figures of the liberation movement went on to play leading roles during
the independent republic. And of course, the foundation
of the republic occurred in the midst of war
and revolution. Armenia became a soviet
republic in December 1920, as a result of a joint
soviet-Turkish assault. The new Bolshevik rulers
inherited a devastated and exhausted country, and needed to quickly
establish their legitimacy and consolidate their rule. One method of legitimizing
their rule was to employ a tactic perfected
throughout all the lands of the former Russian Empire. This was to discredit
and delegitimize the rule of the predecessor regime — in this case, the Armenian
Revolutionary Federation. As Marxists, the new soviet
leaders found the ideology of the Armenian nationalists
anathema, and they lost no time in leading the — in labeling
the dashnaks as, quote unquote, “bourgeois nationalists,
imperialist lackeys, narrow-minded chauvinists, and
irresponsible adventurers.” They blamed the dashnaks for
the loss of independence, and credited the Bolsheviks
with, quote unquote, “saving Armenians
from the destruction at the hands of the Turks.” By thus discrediting
the previous regime, the soviets were able to gloss
over the uncomfortable fact that they had allied with the
Turks who were responsible for massacring Armenians,
and then jointly invaded and occupied an independent
state. The Bolshevik alliance
with the nationalist forces of Mustafa Kemal was
completely ignored in soviet historiography, while
the alleged voluntary reunion of Armenia and Russia
was stressed instead. The soviets portrayed
the leaders of the independent republic as inexperience bourgeois
nationalists who understood nothing about
governance, and who were blinded to the reality of Armenia’s
dire situation by the promises of the western capitalist
powers. They accused Armenia of being
an outpost of imperialism that was used to weaken and undermine the socialist
revolution in Russia, and drive an artificial wedge
between the working classes of Armenia and Russia. It’s probably important to note that Armenia really didn’t have
a working class at this point, but we don’t have to digress too
far to see the contradictions. The lack of information
and supression of knowledge in Armenia regarding the
independent republic served soviet interests
in several ways. First, it allowed the soviets
to present the republic as an experiment that failed
because of the inexperience and immaturity of its
leaders, and their inability to prevent the hostile
takeover by Turkey. According to the soviet
version of events, the adventurous dashnaks
had initiated a war against the Turks, which ended with the defeat of
Armenian forces. Only the timely humanitarian
intervention of the Bolsheviks prevented
the complete destruction of the Armenian people. This version also served the
interests of the communist party in Armenia by portraying the
Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic as the culmination of
Armenian national aspirations, thus increasing their
own legitimacy. This recounting of
the events of 1918 and 1920 was an important part
of the soviet grand narrative for Armenia, which was
reinforced over the years through constant and sustained
propaganda, both in the schools and in the public sphere. The information that
was publicly available about the Independent Republic of Armenia was almost
uniformly negative, stressing the nationalist
and thus evil character of the fledgling state. Dashnak became synonymous
with bourgeoisie nationalist, and the ultimate
political pejorative, as were the terms
Musafatist [assumed spelling] in Azerbaijan, Bazmachi [assumed
spelling] in central Asia, Menshevik [assumed spelling]
in Georgia, and Banderite or Pepurst [assumed
spelling] in Ukraine. During Glasnost, however,
this soviet narrative came under sustained criticism in
Armenia by both intellectuals and the public, as a vigorous
and open debate developed on the nature and significance
of the independent republic. This was the first
independent Armenian state that had been created
since the fall of the Mediterranean
Kingdom of Cilicia in 1375. The previous lessons transmitted
to the population by Moscow through soviet Armenian
historiography were challenged by new interpretations. These interpretations stress
the important symbolic value of the republic as an
independent Armenian state. This debate on the independent
republic opened slowly at first, as historians and the
public were hesitant to openly discuss the
subject of independence. There seems to have been
fear among certain circles of intellectuals and the
public that discussion of the independent republic
would be seen by Moscow as a sign of disloyalty
and possible separatism. Armenians were already being
accused of these things because of their support for
Karabakh, and did not want to exacerbate tensions further. The only consistent calls
for independence came from the Armenian
Self-Determination Union, and the supporters of the
dissident Paruyr Hayrikyan. At a public rally
on May 28th, 1988, which was the 70th
anniversary of the declaration of Armenian independence, a
telegram was supposedly sent to the Supreme Soviet,
asking for that date to be declared Armenian
Independence Day. This group had not
yet been able to win over the mass public support
for the idea of independence, though, and throughout
most of ’88, the subject of the
independent republic was not on the public agenda. But as the conflict over
Karabakh intensified, and an acceptable political
resolution seemed far-off, attitudes began to change. This change of opinion about
independence was escalated in the aftermath of the
December ’88 earthquake, and the soviet Armenians — excuse me, the soviet
authorities proved incapable of alleviating the
suffering of the people. Disillusionment with the
authorities was heightened by the active participation and
organizational skill of members of the Armenian Democratic
Movement. Thus, from ’89 on, more emphasis on the independent
republic became discernible in the public sphere. This was most noticeable at
the regular mass meetings that were held in Yerevan, as symbols of the old
republic began to appear. The red, blue, and
orange tricolor of the independent
republic was in evidence. It was considered a great honor
to be the chosen flag-bearer by the organizers of
the mass meetings. Some of my young friends at the
time made sure they got there as early as they could, and
got to know the organizers so that they would have an
opportunity to hold the flags. And they would be willing to
hold them for hours and hours in the blazing sun, and
they thought that that, for them, was a great honor. Buttons, pins, and other
paraphernalia related to the Independent Republic
of Armenia were also produced in large numbers by activists,
and distributed at the rallies, or sold along the route. Public curiosity about this
previously forbidden aspect of the Armenian past was
mirrored by an increase in scholarly interest. One of the more prominent
historians of this new approach, who’s representative, but
by no means exclusive, was Goodrik Sardariyan [assumed
spelling], who wrote extensively in the mass media
on the formation and development of the republic. He developed the idea that Armenia’s most pressing
problems were the result of its lack of statehood, also
noting that Armenians needed to be more realistic in their
approach to political life, and understand that having
a just cause was not enough to ensure victory. Sardariyan turned to the history
of the Republic of Armenia in an effort to understand
the problems and experiences of an independent state. He criticized those embraced the
idea of an independent Armenia without understanding
the full implications of such independence. Although he supported
the idea of independence, he feared the consequences
of precipitous action. He concluded that without a
sober assessment of history and Armenia’s current situation, Armenians would end
the 20th Century in the same way that
they started it. This stark warning for caution
was echoed in other quarters as well, but in the atmosphere
of escalating violence against Armenia and Karabakh,
most people concluded that independence would
be a better option than continued membership
in the Soviet Union. In recognition of the
symbolic importance ascribed to the Republic of Armenia by
soviet Armenian intellectuals, the Academy of Sciences
elected Richard Hovannisian, the foremost scholar of
the independent republic, to be a member of the
Armenian Academy in 1990. This was one of the
very few times that a foreign member was
inducted into the academy, and was the first time
that a foreign historian of the modern period
was allowed in. This was a clear signal
that Hovannisian’s work on the Independent Republic of Armenia was considered
indispensible for a fuller and more accurate understanding
of modern Armenian history. There was much talk among
historians for the need to have Hovannisian’s work
translated into Armenian as soon as possible in order
to prepare the country for renewed independence,
renewed statehood. The new positive image of
the Independent Republic of Armenia presented
Armenian historians — presented by Armenian historians
was enthusiastically adopted by local nationalists and used
as a symbol of local autonomy and sovereignty in their
struggle against Moscow. Thus, discussion of the independent republic
carried an anti-soviet connotation from the outset. This was mirrored by many local
Armenian political activists, who identified themselves as
dashnaks, although very few of them actually knew what the
ARF’s political position was, or the party’s platform, or
the party’s goals beyond a free and independent Armenia. They were nevertheless
calling themselves dashnaks, because to them, that
was the symbol for a free and independent Armenia. In the highly charged
political atmosphere of Armenia, for most people, that
meant anti-soviet, and being anti-soviet,
in some quarters, became increasingly equated
with being pro-Armenian. In this new spirit of defiance,
there was a reassessment of the foundational
battles of May 1918, the battles of Sardarabad,
Bash Abaran and Karakilisa, in which Armenians were
able to stop Turkish forces from invading the
eastern part of Armenia, and finishing the job that
they had started in 1915. Soviet historiography had
tended to portray these battles as important instances
of self-defense which saved the Eastern
Armenians from the same fate. They were not viewed, however,
in the context of the founding of an independent state. Given that Armenian independence
was declared immediately after these battles, it
seemed an odd omission, but one completely in keeping with the ideological
needs of Communist Party. As Soviet legitimacy was
called into question, these battles took on
an added significance. In addition to their importance
as self-defense battles, they were also presented
by historians and accepted by the public as foundational
events in the process of restoring Armenian
independence. They ascribed new significance
to all this as the conflict of [foreign word]
continued to worsen. In Moscow, increasingly — was
increasingly seen in Armenia as unwilling or unable to be an
honest broker between Armenians and Azerbaijanis,
the reestablishment of an Armenian state was
discussed more frequently. It was in the context of
current events that the legacy of the republic came
to be viewed. Part of this reassessment
consisted of trying to draw lessons as to the
root causes of failure. In conclusion, the historians
identified three main causes for the failure of the
Republic to survive. The first cause was
directly related to 1915 with the destruction of Ottoman
Armenians still occurring at the time of the foundation of
the Republic and the territory of the fledgling state flooded
with refugees, the establishment of independent state was viewed as an astonishing
feat in and of itself. The second major
factor in the defeat of the independent republic
was the attitude and behavior of Lenin and the Bolshevik
Party, including Stalin. Bolshevik collusion
with Kamala’s Turkey and the dismemberment
of Armenia only served to delegitimize Soviet
rule even further. And the third factor, identified
by Armenian historians, was the indifference and contradictions
among the great powers. The promises to end
Ottoman oppression extended to the Armenians during the war
led many Armenians to believe that their hour of
liberation was at hand. These promises went unfulfilled,
however, as the interests of the great powers
took precedence over any moral obligation
they have — may have felt for the
plight of the Armenians. So at the end of the Soviet
period Armenians were faced with a choice. And for most, independence was
not the first choice, right? The choice was to try to renovate the Soviet
Union to make it work. But the way events evolved,
the Armenians had to rethink. And so by — in rethinking
their position, they looked to history,
not just to the Republic. They also looked to the
ancient and medieval period where they were able to show the
continuity of Armenian statehood from pre-Christian
era to the present. They looked at the
Liberation Movement. They looked at our
cultural inheritance, our connections with the West. And all of those things together
helped delegitimize Soviet rule in Armenia and laid the
foundations for independence. And, hopefully, that will
be a nice segue to my friend and colleague, Nerses. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>Levon Avdoyan: In 1994 I
met a young librarian here in the United States. And that was my first exposure to the new library
world in Armenia. I want to say a few words about
librarians in Armenia if I may. As far as I’m concerned they
have been in the forefront since independence of building
a new Armenia, and actually in the forefront of
diplomatic efforts with all — between the three states of the
caucuses, and I have nothing but high praise for
the libraries and librarians that I have seen. Now, when I first visited
in 1996 after independence, the conditions were
not very good. There was no heat, there’s
obviously no air conditioning, the – so please don’t
complain anymore [laughter]. The salaries were
nonexistent or very low. These people went to work
under conditions that most of my colleagues would probably
have resigned years ago. And so all this to say that
I have nothing but respect for all librarians
and especially for the two librarians
with us today. I call both of them friends. And Nerses is not only a
friend; he’s a [foreign word], he’s a brother of mine. And I would like to introduce
to you one of the founders of the Armenian Library
Association, former Assistant Director of
the National Library of Armenia, the Director of the Informa —
an Information Resource Center at the United States
Embassy in [foreign word], who has been actually, as a side
duty, regulating the exchanges of Armenian libraries with
the Library of Congress, and a specialist on book
arts and history in Armenia. And Nerses Hayrapetyan will be
speaking about [foreign word] and the emergence of the
contemporary Armenian press. Nerses. [ Applause ]>>Thank you, Levon. It’s an honor to be at
the Library of Congress. Exactly 24 years ago I first — my step was, first
step to the Library of Congress was in
April 30, ’94. And I shall start — before starting my
official presentation, I should like repeat
the same sentence like my friend Robert
told that my disclaimer that my opinion not
necessarily, you know, is the same like
the U.S. government. So — but I’m talking — my
topic is rather interesting. I was dealing with the Armenian
new periodical press or — during those [inaudible]
movement years, and little by little
collecting information. Mostly bibliographic
information at that time. If I knew that it is so
important to collect pieces also because at firstly there is
not any library in Armenia that has this all, you
know, rich collection of — some [inaudible] data
now traditional press. What is the — ah, we have it. Okay. Some is that originated from the dissident
movement in Russia. The Russian [foreign words]
coined the version of the term in 1952 when he typed
copies of his poems and included the not
some [inaudible] is that. “Myself, by Myself”
publishes on the front page. The individuals reproduced
censored and underground publications
by hand or printed on semi-professional printing
presses and passed the documents from reader to reader. Russian dissident
and prominent figure, Vladimir Bukovsky
summarized it as follows. “Some is that. I write it myself, editi it
myself, censori it myself, publishi it myself,
distribute it myself [laughter], and may get imprisoned
for it” [laughter]. The history of Armenian
[inaudible] is that started I should
say in ’60s. And in the Russians,
some is that rose as an underground
movement to create and distribute literary texts. The Armenian sum is that,
was the political protest for a national unity
and independence. The roots of Armenian
[inaudible] is that are closely tied
with the 1965 year [inaudible] demonstrations. On April 24, 1965, 100,000
protestors held a 24-hour demonstration in [foreign
word] on the 50th anniversary of the commencement of
the Armenian Genocide. Around that movement, the first
legal political partisan groups were established. The National United Party was
founded in 1966 on April 24 by Haykaz Khachatryan, Stepan
Zatikyan and Shahen Harutyunyan. The Party issued and
distributed the first issue of its periodicalParos,
Lighthouse
in October, 1967. In 1968, they published and distributed another
journal titled [foreign words], in the name of the homeland. And, lastly, in 1969, National
United Party published its third journal, [foreign word]. When the founders were
imprisoned in 1968, Paruyr Hayrikyan became
head of the party. After the arrest
of active members, the National United
Party, until the late ’80s, until the perestroika and
glasnost period, only one issue of the Armenian [inaudible] is
their publication was published. In 1981, [foreign words]
published the last, fourth issue ofParos Newspaper. The Armenian [inaudible]
that was reborn in 1987 when the Union for National
Self-Determination Party was established by Paruyr Hayrikyan. UNSD published theIndependence
Weekly Newspaper
, starting from October
24 of 1987. TheIndependence Weeklywas
the first alternative political periodical not only in
Armenia but one of the firsts in the entire Soviet Union. TheIndependencehad
chosen [foreign words] or Armenian people,
your only salvation is in your collective power
lying as your epigram. And you can see it on the
first — on the left side. The self-published
was of small scale. Only 85 [inaudible]. In the beginning,Independence
looked very simple. Only text without
any illustrations. In the state of being
a self-publishing, the front page would often
feature the national emblem of the Republic of Armenia. Later, also the NSDU emblem. The final pages presented the
sponsors of the newspaper — of course, with their
permission. Not onlyIndependencedid so, but also other self-published
newspapers as that [inaudible] et cetera. It is worth nothing that
the newspapers were printed by the personal means
of the publishers and with the support
of individuals. The materials were in a row without any illustrations,
typewritten. The plot was rich though. The newspaper’s priority
was the self-determination of the Armenian Nation. The idea of independence
of Armenia and those were constantly
vacant consciousness in the civil society. The materials related to
this topic were very many in the self-published. [Inaudible] we and our
fight article appeared in the very first number of
the newspaper where he spoke of the necessity of
national self-determination, mentioning that some people
are suffering from [inaudible]. He wrote that there are
no ever-lasting enemies in [inaudible] lives. Yesterday’s enemy may
become tomorrow’s ally. He highlighted the idea of
national self-determination, the nation’s imperative to
control its own destiny, and considered any intervention on [inaudible] illegal
and non-human. Offering to create
[inaudible] National Armenia through a referendum,
the author thinks that this very idea can
bring the nation together. TheIndependencewas one
of those few periodicals that was keeping a chronological
record of the events connected with our [inaudible]
moment in 1988. The Soviet Union official press
was either silent on the event or was presenting them distorted in the light favorable
for the authorities. The official press was
presenting the leaders of the [inaudible] growing
movement as national extremists, while the criminal
persecution against them as fight against crime. It is obvious that there
was a political presentation against the leaders and
activists of the movement. In the history of the newest
Armenian periodical press, the self-published
independencies, the first to preach
firmly the idea of rebuilding Armenia’s
independent statehood and deny any other solutions
like becoming a member of the renewed Soviet
Union or Confederation. The first sum is
that publication in 1988 was [inaudible]. Bi-monthly which was
published by the Union of Difference of Armenian Cause. Several months later UDAC
started the [inaudible] publication, [foreign words],
Armenian Cause in Russian. And the same year in May, the National Self-Determination
Union started its new publication, [foreign
words], Motherland. [Foreign words] was a national
political publicist journal which was repeat
by [foreign words], one of the founding members
of NSDU and national hero. In total in sum is that
period in 1988/1991, 11 issues of[Inaudible]
Journal
was published. It covered wide range
of subject areas. For example, national
materials of the fifth issue of 1988 are divided in
the following chapters — call to [inaudible] or All
Armenian National Movement, opalescence of history,
truth without borders, thinking loudly,
human rights defender, and is the [inaudible] documents
and Armenian freedom fight. Letters were more
[inaudible] were published in 1994/’98 and 2000. Although first independent
periodical, the newspaper [foreign words], was published on
October 24, 1987. The evolution of some is that
really began in February, 1988 with the movement
for the reunification of Nagorno-Karabakh and
Armenia, generally referred to as the Karabakh Movement. The most influential
periodical [inaudible] and [foreign words] published
by the NSDU [inaudible] of the same [inaudible]. Publications of the
Karabakh Committee and all Armenian National
Movements including the [foreign words], Bulletin,
[foreign words], Speaker, and [foreign words], Et Cetera. The other and official
self-publication wasMashtots. It began to be published
on April 8, 1988, The editors were
[foreign words]. In fact, [foreign words]
was the literary nickname of the famous journalist and
publicist, [foreign words]. By the way, [inaudible]
recently — he’s working on different
documentaries and the link in the bottom you
can find on Twitter. It’s about the Armenian
and Russian [inaudible] and you can find several
interesting interviews with those people who published in Armenian [inaudible]
is that newspapers.Mashtotshave published
20 issues. It was also of scale
more like brochure, but the scale was inconsistent. If the second issue published
in 1989 had 61 pages, the third could have 38 pages. The third published
was also typewritten on a plain A5 format paper. The pages were bound
and enumerated. It highlighted those pictures
of Karabakh Committee members, the historic loopholes of the
First Republic of Armenia, especially those that during the
Soviets were kept in secrecy. For instance, in the May,
1989 issue the memoirs of the Prime Minister of the
First Republic of Armenia, Hovhannes Kajaznuni,
were published. These topics were not
only a closed door for the Soviet press, but also
many of the political figures of the first republic were
considered anti-Soviet, and topics about them were
not permitted by the censors. And that time, I was
a Deputy Director of the National Library,
and our closed talks for political reasons, it had
like a 57,000 different items. Could you imagine how
much was the, you know, censorship taking
over the library. In the fifth number of
Mashtots
, self-published, brought it out in
September, 1989. A well-known historian
and linguist, Raphael [foreign word], the law of excluding the third
force article was published. Later on, it was republished in
[inaudible] Daily and got a lot of public attention in
Armenia and Diaspora. Moreover, according to
historian [foreign words], this was the article
that madeMashtotsMself-publication prominent. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration
to claim that the article served as a guideline for the Karabakh
Movement as the author called on to rely only on own forces. Why in solving the problems with neighbors highlighted
the importance of eliminating the third party, as the third parties
have their own interests. It is worth to note that for
the first time in 70 years, the people living in Soviet
Union were not only listening about becoming independent
from Russia, but also a call to solve the problems
on their own. This was not accepted
without [inaudible] though. In autumn, 1989, most of
the official newspapers were under strong influence
of Armenian revolution. In October/November [foreign
words] andAvant-Garde, those are newspapers
published in Armenia, started publishing
news and articles to highlight the activities of the All Armenian
National Movement. During the [inaudible] a new —
a few newspapers and few issues of periodicals were still being
printed in the established press in the traditional number. The sum is that period of an
official period because ended with the first issue of the
[inaudible] newspaper published on November 2, 1989,
on the occasion of the All Armenian National
Movement First Congress. Since January, 1990, [Inaudible]
continued its regular uninterrupted publication
in a last run. In 1989, there were three
unofficial publications which were published at
state printing houses. However, the sum is that period
because did not disappear, and the competition between all
the new periodicals entered a new stage. The years 1990/’91 began a new
phase which we have defined as the Period of Transition. We have used the term transition
because the official press at long last did not withstand
the competition and collapsed, clearing the road for the
new one’s while the — at the same time, new
global changes had started, from the past to the present, from forced to self-determination,
toward independence. In 1991, the traditional
political parties, namely [foreign words] Armenian
Revolutionary Federation — [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] — Democratic Liberal Party
of Armenia, Social Democrat and [foreign words], Social
Democrat [inaudible] Party, were reestablished and subsequently began
publishing activities on [inaudible]. On February 16, 1991,
the first issue of — [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] — was published, although the
[foreign word], the founders, were five council members – [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] — and others. But their fact rate
was the organ of Democratic Liberal
Party of Armenia. Within the course of years,
[inaudible] among the pioneers that brought the cultural
Western journalist practices in Armenia. The other influential
publication was [foreign words],Homeland. An official of Armenian
Revolutionary Federation [foreign words]. Central Committee
of [foreign words]. In mid-1993, the [foreign
words] daily reached to 55,000 which was the largest
opposition [foreign words]. The Armenian Revolutionary
Federation established its own printing house [foreign words], that was the only
alternative print house to the [foreign words] owned
[inaudible] publishing house. Their periodical press
was printed either by [foreign words] or [foreign
words] printing houses. And at the end of
1996 the Republic of [inaudible] the Minister of Justice have reduced it
already 54 political parties and sociopolitical organizations
of which almost half have or had their own
organ print newspaper. Among the core topics
of discussion, in sum, is that periodicals. Those are the Armenian
[inaudible] issue which direction to follow. Either keep them ordering if
they’re not Armenian or return to the language roots and implement the
classical Armenian. Many [inaudible] is that — many [inaudible] is that
periodical [foreign words] as a modern supplements — [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] — were published solemnly
in classical Armenian. It was kind of back-to-the-roots
movement and the language reform was
among the mainstream of changes. [ Inaudible Speaker ] — indicated their titles and
subtitles in classical Armenian. The issues of unification of the Armenian language
has been considered as one of the directions of
greater consolidation of Eastern and Western Armenia. In the bottom part,
in the middle, you can see there is a
announcement in the first issue of [foreign word]
Periodical that they — in the future they going
to print their newspaper in classical Armenian which
never happened, by the way. In order to stress
their independence, many periodicals used various
terms to stress their status, such as independent,
non-governmental, free, alternative, democratic,
et cetera. It is difficult to precisely
define some [inaudible] when it became possible
to reduce all periodicals without any difficulties. Some publishers, in order
to show the independence, refused to reduce
the publications. In this manner, stressing and
expressing their autonomy. The majority of these
periodicals were typewritten and produced by photocopying,
almost always the word of polygraphical design
and illustrations. Yet they had a great advantage
over the official periodicals. They were preaching in the
language of truth and freedom. As the first tip, many official
periodicals were renamed a good read of their Communist
stamped names. Like every Armenian newspaper, they had that “Workers
of the World Unite.” As a first fine of
change, these, you know, epigram disappeared
from all the newspapers. And even — 1990s a
very interesting year because in mid-’90,
I believe in May, the first parliamentary
elections were in Armenia where the Communist monopoly — they lose their power
in Armenia, so many newspapers
starting like the, you know, changed their appearance
like there was — every newspaper had a Lenin
medal or something like that. And they — first they lose
their medals, the [speaking in foreign language], but still
— see, this is a newspaper. Only one issue was
published in 1990 by[Inaudible] Literary
Journal,
Literary Journal
and Newspaper
. And the first issue
— still it had — [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] — like the publishing house
of Central Committee of Party. I have another journal. You see it in — on the top. Not journal, sorry. A newspaper. It is interesting. It — this was also published
in ’90, but never gone to — for dissemination because it was
censored by the new, you know, new government of Armenia. Still for the political reasons. Obviously you see [inaudible] and you see the Turkish-Armenian
side [foreign words]. So all, you know, print
run was kept somewhere. I don’t know. But I have 10 copies,
so these copies are for the Library of Congress. You can keep it. [ Applause ] Not only in Armenia, but in,
let’s say, in the Diaspora in Soviet Republics, several
Armenian newspapers in Russian, in Armenian, appeared
in many countries — in republics including
Russia, Estonia, in Georgia, in Ukraine, in Kiev — [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] So these changes were
happening everywhere. And to summarize
my presentation, and to [inaudible] is the
differences to emergence of the contemporary
Armenian press, I can sum up that
1987/1990, we saw a rise of those periodicals
approximately about 15 known traditional
journals and newspapers appeared. Their role as [inaudible]
of the establishment of new Armenian media
can’t be over-estimated. And this is the first issue
of [foreign words] official. Many independent journalists
and they criticized at that time our new government
because what does it mean to have official newspaper? So you are continuing the same
traditions like in Soviet times. It was a [inaudible] has done. Now you have under your
control [inaudible]. What’s the difference? On October 8, 1991, the
Supreme Soviet of Republic of Armenia passed a law on periodicals and
other mass media. Therein emerged the legal
framework of regulations of the periodical press
and its activities. Some [inaudible] because
either transfer it into official publications
or [inaudible] you to mass media environment
changes. Time to time, when due to
political tensions and turmoil, media was on under
government attack. We witnessed a new kind of
[inaudible] papers and flyers. For example, during the ’94 ban of Armenian Revolutionary
[inaudible], party government forced to close
not only [foreign words] weekly, but also several
literally women’s cultural and youth publications,
and this newspaper or [inaudible] was
published 99, just 99. They were indicating 99 copies
and they could publish it, you know, without
any registration. This is end of my presentation. And thank you. [ Applause ]>>Levon Avdoyan: I must add
that Nerses knows very well that I love getting donations to
the collection, so [laughter], if any of you would like to
leave donations on your way out, we would be glad to accept them.>>I’ll do it.>>Levon Avdoyan: Yes. My colleague, Dr. Paul Kergol,
will be glad to take them from my hands and make sure
that they are catalogued and made available
to you if I like you. No [laughter]. Whether I like you or not. I have the great honor to actually introduce another
friend and great librarian. He’s presently the President of the Armenian Library
Association. He is the Director of the
National Library of Armenia. And I have to tell,
Tigran, before you go up, I have to tell a story. The first time I did this, the
only place I could find a book that a researcher needed
was in the National Library. So I wrote to Tigran and
I said, is it possible? How can you get a copy? And he says, well,
I’ll look into it. And I think it was two days
later, maybe three days later, I had in my hands to hand onto this researcher a complete
digital page-turner copy of that book. This is what kind of
a librarian he is. [ Applause ] So I am going to introduce
Tigran Zargaryan who will speak on the Pan-Armenian
Digital Library in Action, Connecting the Diasporas,
Bridging Knowledge. .>>Tigran Zargaryan: Thank you. And, Levon, I want to
thank you for organizing such a wonderful event. Very useful. One correction. I have never been the president
of a library association, never — so, just
a small correction. And such is my presentation
will be about the technologies and how — this a bookmark. I will put after my
presentation there. Some weeks thereafter
you can think, keep them, and you can use and share
with your colleagues. So political culture
and economic life of each nation is connected
with a geographic place which carries the
name of that nation, a place that has been
populated by the majority of the given ethnic group for
centuries, where they lived and flourished, and transferred
their unicultural [inaudible] to the next generations. As for the Armenians, the situation’s a
little bit different. During its centuries of
destroying despite the fact that [inaudible] they took, Armenian nations established
communities, built churches, opened schools and [inaudible]
colleges all over the world. They created and passed on to the next generations
a huge number of treasures and masterpieces
including manuscripts, Armenian relevant early
prints which are preserved in the different libraries
[inaudible] centers, private and family collections
worldwide. This resulted in the creation
of a [inaudible] network under the name spiritual
Armenia, from a single [inaudible]
Constantinople [inaudible], from Amsterdam to [inaudible], from Italy to [inaudible]
and Transylvania. All the centers for spiritual
Armenia were connected with each other and
had one common goal — to protect Armenian language
to reestablish statehood. The Armenian National Council
declares their independence with Armenia on 28th
of May, 1918. One of the first decrees
of the government was about the National
Library of Armenia which was established
in June 5, 1919. Since that time,
the National Library of Armenia has been collecting and preserving Armenia
prints published worldwide. The Armenian collection has
about one and one million items. Amongst their titles are the
first Armenian printed book, theFriday Book. Fifteen prayers [inaudible]. It’s the first Armenian
periodical [inaudible]TheHerald, produced
in [inaudible]. The first Armenian
printed bible, the first Armenian printed map, and many other unique
publications. During the past 100
years, the Library, being the largest repository of the Armenian language
publications in the world, has become one of
the central nodes of the Spiritual
Armenian Network. And as their major cultural
hub is actively bridging values for us. We teach other and
with Motherland. The Repository of
Ancient Manuscripts — Matenaduran, Mother See of
Holy Echmiadzin Library, Mechitarist Congregation
or [inaudible] Library of the Armenian Patriarchates
of Constantinople, the Goodman [inaudible] Library
of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Library of
the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia, Holy Savior
and Catholic Library in [inaudible] function
of important centers of the Spiritual
Armenian Network. Materials belonging
to the Armenian rich and heritage are
scattered all over the work in different cities whereas some of these places have thriving
Armenian communities in the past such as [foreign words] in
Transylvania, [foreign words] in India, [foreign
words] in Russia, [foreign words] the Ukraine,
and [foreign words] in Crimea. In these communities there
still are Armenian unique book collections forgotten and
abandoned, that are awaiting to be cleaned from the death,
catalogued, and preserved in normal library conditions. It is important for
scholars to have access through their primary sources
which include historical and legal documents, eyewitness
accounts, statistical data, pieces of creative writing,
[inaudible] recordings, speeches, and artifacts. With all of librarians is
to open such primary sources to the researchers by preparing
bibliographic bibliographies, as complete as possible. Understanding the advantages
of the printed bibliographies, being aware that
information technologies and Internet are
acting as key supporters in the knowledge
bridging process, having grouped theoretical
basis amongst the libraries and from the National
Library of Armenia on developing digital libraries. A working group often
accepts publishing models and creative comments
licensing schemas, and with [inaudible] prepares
library staff to increment, maintain, induce
[inaudible] products for building [inaudible]
heritage institutions. The National Library of
Armenia, in close cooperation with the fundamental scientific
library of the academia sciences in [inaudible] projects. Development of book database,
creation of the human catalog of Armenian continuing
resources, coordinating Armenian libraries
[inaudible] activities. All these are good examples on connecting the
[inaudible] digital libraries for building an Armenian
digital library. So, the first one. Armenian book database. Total number of bibliography
records is 127,579. Why I am just [inaudible]? Because this is very close to what Armenians had produced
unique titles from 1512, I think until 2016/’17. This number could go up to
1000-30,000, but no match. So we can state that
Armenians have produced so much titles during
their printing history. More than 12,000
digitized books are attached to the relevant bibliographic
records. And this number is growing. Main sources for having
bibliographic records are [inaudible] and libraries’
collections — UK, USA, Europe-based libraries
on [inaudible], digitized books from our products from
[inaudible] to Jerusalem, New [inaudible] and Istanbul. Although [inaudible]
digitization activities for the books are carried out in
the National Library of Armenia and even from the [inaudible]
scientific libraries, several international projects
are of [inaudible] for us, so those are the
Europeana Project which is covering all Europe and
the special national libraries. UNESCO is [inaudible] program. Google Books Project, the [inaudible] Digital
Library [inaudible] verification for the research
and the archiving of Armenian memory [inaudible]. This is from Marseilles, France. Also some research institutions
and universities in Armenia which have joined the
Open Access Initiative and they’re mounting
their publications in the open access domain. The European and [inaudible]
Digital Library platforms are very useful. In both we find early
Armenian printed books which are not included in
any of the bibliographies. So thanks to the digital
technologies, we were able to find in different European
libraries a digital [inaudible] of 12 foreign language rare
books containing Armenian text which were not included
in their publication,The Armenian Book
, in 1512, 1800. The number of — and this
covered early prints is much higher. Let’s say last year our
videographers visited the Istanbul Municipal Library and we found there
19 new book titles. In the Armenian Patriarchate
in Constantinople in their library we
found 84 new book titles. So these are titles which
had never been included in any bibliographies. So the Union Catalog of
“Armenian Continuing Resources.” Total number of the
bibliographic records is 5808. This includes newspapers,
journals, yearbooks, bulletins. More than 3 million
digitized pages are already fully accessible. Again, our partners from
[inaudible], Istanbul, Antilles, are not only participating
in digitization activities, but are also providing
us with new titles for [inaudible] you can see. They are on the screen. And you just — Professor
[inaudible]. He mentioned — he
[inaudible] I think newspaper around [inaudible]. I check now database and
not any record for this. So maybe this is — [ Inaudible Speaker ] — material. In any case, will be interesting
just to discuss with you because still we find lots of —
a lot interesting titles for us. So we don’t know any
information about that. The database is a good
of Armenian periodical, is a good resource
for researchers and also for statistical data. It is having very
high hits from U.S., a lot of requests are coming. Such as it is further
down [inaudible] so — especially [inaudible]
center start using the data from this database. So we can see that
5808 titles are divided by publication type in this way. So, as you can see the numbers. Another interesting source — the last bibliography for
the periodicals was published in Armenia in 1986
by [inaudible]. It covers the time period 1795, the first Armenian periodical
was published, until 1980. So you can see some
of cities, not all. And in red we indicate total
number of periodicals published in those cities according
to our database. So we can see that in
Boston, according to Babloyan, 46 titles; according
to our database, 58. In New York, according
to Babloyan, 87; according to our database, 142,
from which four are periodicals in Turkish with Armenian
letters. So in USA, seven periodicals
were published in Turkish with Armenian letters. Total number according
to Babloyan is 298; according to our
database, is 464. So very big difference. And these numbers
still will be changing because of the [inaudible]
first in a search and they are still finding
new titles, new titles. So cities, you know, US
cities which were not included in the Babloyan’s bibliographies
— so we can see Paramus, Morton Grove, Belmont, et
cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Now Armenian Libraries
Union Catalog. All solutions are based on Free/Open Source
Software products. Actually, Armenian Libraries — we do not use any commercial
products, from service solutions to the library systems. Everything is based
on free/open source. So products in the systems are
maintained by the librarians, which is very interesting. So they are doing the
maintenance of the systems, of those systems, with more than
one and two million bibliography and [inaudible] and more
than 5 million items. This is a unit resource
for researchers, students, library patrons worldwide. Public, academic, community,
and university libraries from Armenia are active
participants of the project. It’s worth mentioning
that the repository of ancient manuscripts and Mechitarist Congregation
have also joined this project, which means that
two important nodes of spiritual Armenia
will be [inaudible]. We have finished our training
courses with [inaudible], and now a lady from [inaudible] by the Mechitarist Congregation
is passing training courses and after that she
will start to compare and correct Mechitarist
Congregation card catalog, now metaphonic form, which will
be a huge help for all of us. So the weight of the
U.S.-based universities and Armenian Studies Centers
has a spiritual Armenian note, and for supplying
the Armenian book and the Armenian Continuing
Resources Data Business with information is becoming
more and more important. The Healthy Choice Digital
Library Initiative wishes Armenian Collection is a
real help for all of us. The Library of Congress with its
rich Armenian Collection could have to ask another
note in the USA. There are many unexplored
private collections, a university library collection
which should be examined. And currently we’re considering
establishing professional relationships with
these organizations. By the way, we can supply our
viewers’ library electronic [inaudible] with
Armenian script records with high-quality Armenian
script records in [inaudible], so if anybody first time that
they hear is interested on that, we can provide you
freely with those records. We are confident that much
more unknown titles of books and [inaudible] because
will be discovered. Here we see, [inaudible]
possibilities. We saw a U.S. Diaspora. So what’s next? Just as I mentioned, we now
are organizing training courses for the Library [inaudible]
and in Armenia and from our Diasporas, teaching
them on modern technologies, on machine [inaudible]
rules, and more. And programming languages because now our [inaudible]
are doing — are developing some small
software pieces for us. As a result of military
conflicts, immigration, economic crisis in
our communities, we already have abandoned
all forgotten libraries. So if audience of here, you
know also about such libraries, please keep us informed about
existence of such libraries, or here in U.S. or in
Europe or in Middle East. And with the help of Minister of
Diaspora, Minister of Culture, Minister of Foreign Affairs, we
will try to organize transfer, transportation of
those collections to the National Library
of Armenia. Now we are [inaudible] one
very interesting project in preparation with the Poznan
Supercomputing Center Institute for Informatics and Automation
Problems of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia and the
Fundamental Scientific Library — Development of the
Pan-Armenian Digital Library. The system will enable to
create professional repositories of digital documents and share
them with interested people and systems on the Internet. Data exchange is based on generally accepted
standards and protocols. And Pan-Armenian Digital Library
will offer the users many powerful possibilities such
as searching for content of the collected resources, searching bibliography
descriptions using [inaudible] dictionary, grouping
digital publications and navigating their structure. The system will operate on
virtual servers environment. We have parallel
computing features using the cloud solutions. And I hope that you
will come in two years. We’ll be able to develop an
optical recognition engine for Armenian handwritten and printed characters using
deep learning approach. Here we are cooperating with
some of our European partners. So we are working, because this
is really very, very important, very, very important
topic for us now. And I came with my presentation
an African proverb saying that “if you want to walk
fast, walk alone. If you want to walk
far, walk together.” So I think that now we have
started to do a step together. We do have very interesting
findings with the help of our Diaspora partners, and I hope that we will
continue our preparation on behalf of Armenian nation. So, thank you. [ Applause ] So as I mentioned,
here are the bookmarks. Wait until you can pick them. And just a small announcement. So, Levon, can you
join me please? This is a small surprise. So, Levon Avdoyan is a great
scholar, researcher, librarian, geographer, organizer. So a person with many hats. So in recognition of his work,
let me to read this just. “National Library of
Armenia, Hakob Meghapart, or jubilee [inaudible]. Awarded to Dr. Levon Avdoyan, Armenian/Georgian [inaudible]
Specialist Near East Section, African and Middle
Eastern Division of the Library of Congress. In recognition of his important
contribution to the development of modern library system in
Armenia, for [inaudible] input in the Armenian studies, and
for [inaudible] connections between American and
Armenian Library [inaudible].” So, my friend, this is for you. [ Applause ] This is it. I’ll give you the medal. So Hakob Meghapart
first Armenian printer.>>Levon Avdoyan: Thank you>>Tigran Zargaryan:
Oh, this is for you. And this is a [inaudible],
a small token of Armenian National
Library [inaudible].>>Levon Avdoyan:
May I say something? Thank you. [ Applause ] Thank you very much. What Tigran doesn’t know
— I’m greatly honored. But what Tigran doesn’t
know is that as soon as I retire I am going to spend
several months in Armenia. And I might — I’ll
probably spend many of them in this building.>>Tigran Zargaryan: Is welcome. You are –>>Levon Avdoyan:
Thank you very much. [ Applause ] Unexpected. But thank you. Wonderful. Oh, the Hakob Meghapart, in case
you don’t know, was the printer of that first Armenian
book in — I prefer 1512, but I know
Sylvia [inaudible] 1511. No truer words have been spoken
than by Tigran, and Nerses, but the library community is
so interconnected, you know. Many people — eyes
glaze over when we talk about library science,
but it is interconnected, and we do work together
very well. We are now on to our last talk, and we’re going back
to the 19th century. And I did this purposely because
there’s a surprise at the end of this talk that I won’t
particularly tell you about. About 10 years ago we procured a
manuscript by Pietro Bianchini. I won’t say anything
more about him because our speaker will
certainly fill us in about him. And there is something special about seeing something you
have acquired come to life. And this is what we want to have
happen to all our acquisitions. So, brilliant musicologist,
composer. I mean, I would — whatever
I have done in scholarship and librarianship I would trade
to be able to be a musician. People know that about me. From the Czech Republic, a
great storyteller I have come to learn, Mr. — Dr. Haig
Utidjian, who will be speaking about sublime and
celestial Pietro Bianchini and anOde for the Patriarch. [ Music ]>>Haig Utidjian: Thank you
very much, indeed, Levon, for the I would say
excessively kind introduction which nonetheless I
appreciated very much indeed. This is not the manuscript
I intend to talk about, ladies
and gentlemen. I shall be talking about a
particularly beautiful Armenian manuscript of an
ode that has been in use during the Armenian
Devine Liturgy for probably at least three centuries
“[Inaudible], oh, ye chosen one of God,” which Bianchini
transcribed and harmonized. Nonetheless, I thought that if
I started with that manuscript which I will give it the bulk
of the present talk, you would, of course, with justification,
ask who on Earth Bianchini was, because he’s not as well as
known as he deserves to be, either in Armenian circles
or in even internationally. I was extremely fortunate
in being able to locate a manuscript
of thisSinfoniafrom which we just heard a
soundbite recorded specifically by the [foreign words] Orchestra
in Prague under my direction with the very kind
permission of the procurators of the St. Marks
Basilica in Venice for whose orchestra
the piece was composed and performed in 1863. Uniquely, we have permission to
play this excerpt this afternoon and [inaudible] the time so I do
feel privileged that I was able to present you this
little fragment. To give you a little idea
of who Bianchini was. He was an Italian
Venetian-born musician described by various Armenians as — [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] He was a child prodigy as
first composer and violinist. He was prolific as a composer. He has two masses, two
requiems, a large number of orchestral pieces,
chamber music, music for the [inaudible]
instruments, some [inaudible]
music, but very little of his artwork has
been published at all. And, indeed, what he’s most
remembered for is the fact that he published his
own transcriptions of all the [inaudible] of theArmenian Divine
Liturgy
which he harmonized on the basis of the chance
he had heard performed by the Venetian [foreign
word] fathers in San Lazarof. And that is what he may be
remembered for at the moment, although he deserves to be
known very much better both in Armenian circles
and in others. Now, there is, in fact, one piece that very
many Armenians know, but without in fact knowing that
Pietro Bianchini composed it. And it is actually a piece
that is very, very opposite to this occasion, given
that I have the privilege of participating in the
[inaudible] Lecture Series. It is called [foreign words],
a rousing song, a march, in which [foreign words] of the [foreign words]
dynasty is rallying his troops so that they will take their
vengeance for the [inaudible]. Now, this was a poem
composed by — [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] — monk, botanist, polymath
poet, Father [foreign language] who was an almost exact
contemporary of Bianchini’s. And I managed to find a very
interesting historical recording of this piece made by none other
than the Nightingale of Darron, as he was known,
[foreign words], the Armenian tenor [foreign
words] who was a friend of protege of [foreign words]. And I should like
now, very briefly, to play you a little
bit of [foreign words]. Many of you will have heard
the melody without knowing that Bianchini composed it. [ Music and Singing ] Time is short, but I did want
you to hear a sufficient beat of the excerpt so that we could
include the magnificent high notes with which he ended. [Foreign words] was a soloist
inLa Scalein Milan and in — at the Paris Opera as well. And he was singing [foreign
words] with the words by Father Ghevont Alishan,
and music by none other than Pietro Bianchini, the author of the manuscript
I’m going to talk about. But one last thing
before I start doing so — just to give you a sort
of feel about the circles in which Pietro Bianchini
circulated. I should like to invite
you to consider three of the delicatees [assumed
spelling] of his various works, manuscripts, publications. They are none other than
King Victor Emmanuel II, the King of Italy, for whom
Bianchini composed an orchestral piece, [foreign words], to celebrate the
annexation of Venice in 1866. But the other two were no
less formidable characters within the Armenian milieu. The middle gentleman
was Abbott General of the [inaudible]
Congregation of Venice, Archbishop [foreign words]. A formidable personality
himself, and a towering intellectual who would deserve a
[inaudible] lecture in his own right if
it were possible. And the third is nonother than the Catholicos
Patriarch Steven Peters, Step’anos Petros X Azarean,
who was very distinguished, particularly as an
ecclesiastical leader and ecclesiastical diplomat. And he is the delicatee
[assumed spelling] of the beautiful manuscript
that is held by the Library of Congress to which I
should now like to turn. This is what the
dedication page looks like. It is hand-written
by Bianchini himself, dedicated to the
patriarch on the occasion of the latter’s nameday
which was St. Stephen’s Day, the 26th of December, 1887. Bianchini ends the letter by seeking the patriarch’s
blessing, approaching, figuratively, to kiss his hand, and declaring himself
a “humble servant.” Pietro Bianchini. And very importantly
Maestro of the Congregation of the Mechitarist Fathers
of San Lazzaro in Venice. Bianchini spent many
years working in San Lazzaro apparently
directing the choir during the Divine Liturgy. So, in addition to serving as
Director of Music in a number of Italian cities,
particularly Northern Italy, he performed this very valuable
service to the Armenian Monks. Now the ode in question, and
[foreign words], chosen of God, is a composition
not of Bianchini’s. Bianchini merely transcribed
the traditional melody. But it is a work that
preoccupied Bianchini for several decades in
the course of his career. And we have various versions
of it which he worked on. The earliest that I know
was published as part of a very slim booklet
that is exceedingly rare. Not only the Mechitarist
fathers, not even the Mechitarist
fathers in Venice in San Lazaro or even the Armenian
National Library are in possession of a copy. And you can see — that is the
extreme left-hand side corner. It consists of two lines,
the melody sung by a soloist, and a figured baseline as if it
were a piece of baroque music, indicating one line and
with little numbers, the chords that should be played by the organist or
harmonium player. The second version of it
that we encounter is part of the entire complete
Divine Liturgy chance. These were published
in 1877 in San Lazaro. And there, we find the entire
ode complete with an organ or harmonium accompaniment. But there are also
various manuscripts that I have succeeded
in locating in the San Lazaro archives in which Bianchini
made various copies or arrangements particularly
of the choral component of the ode typically with
the verbal underlay written in Latin script suggesting that probably Italian
professional singers would sing during the Divine
Liturgies in San Lazaro, a fact that I found rather
surprising initially. And in one case and that’s
the undated manuscript that I’m showing you on the
extreme right-hand side, he has a string orchestra
accompaniment to almost the entire
Divine Liturgy and it seems that he had second thoughts. You see that he crossed
out the orchestra from the first four measures,
deciding that it should be sung by solo female voices alone,
one soprano and one alto, before the chorus comes in on the fifth measure
together with the strings. But this is what the version
in our manuscript looks like. Again, it is the complete ode
with the first two stanzas of the ode to be sung by a
soloist accompanied by harmonium or some other suitable
keyboard instrument. And the remaining stanzas
are included complete to be sung by a choir. And after the music, the words on their own have also been
beautifully copied out. The first two stanzas in a
kind of Armenian Gothic script with the word [inaudible]
patriarch highlighted by being made larger because
usually the words are [Speaking in foreign language], chosen
of God, oh happy, holy priest. But the word priest
has been replaced by the word patriarch
customizing the ode as it were for the person, to the
person of the patriarch. And the choral stanzas are
written in a beautiful hand in another script which is
characteristic of the period. But the crucial thing is that
the entire ode has been included and the music for it as well. And the verbal text, we can
find in another possession of the Library of Congress in the beautiful
Constantinopolitan Breviary of 1768 where you see
it starts at the bottom of the left-hand side page, continuing all the way
along the page opposite. The verbal text, the poetry
is actually rather beautiful. It makes allusions to the
Book of Exodus from the Bible, the 28th chapter where
there is a description of Moses preparing meticulously
and beautifully woven garments, priestly garments for Aaron. And the poet, whoever it was who
composed the words of this ode, likens the celebrant about
to serve the Divine Liturgy to the person of Aaron. And in the words of
the poem, it is Christ who today makes our celebrant
appear under the same form as Aaron and seeks the
intercession of the priest. Now, this is full of
polyvalent symbolism because if we consider the
liturgical use of the ode, we find that in fact, the ode is to be sung during the
particularly poignant moment in the beginning of
the Divine Liturgy. During those moments when the
celebrant, being the bishop or of higher rank, is
to fall on his knees and with overflowing tears —
these are not my words but those of the rubric, the instructions
in the missal and I’m quoting from another beautiful
Library of Congress manuscript, a missal from the year
1722 where you can see on the left-hand
side the situation. The celebrant is kneeling. The proto deacon, the chief
deacon has taken his miter away and the celebrant is to recite
the very beautiful prayer by Saint Gregory of
Narek in two parts, addressed to the Holy
Spirit which he has to do quietly and
inexpressively. The Armenian word is [Speaking in foreign language]
corresponding to the Greek [Speaking in
foreign language] which in turn, harks back to the Book
of Romans, chapter eight where Saint Paul refers to our
own inability to pray properly but that fortunately, the
Holy Spirit utters these inexpressible groans by way of interceding on
our behalf to God. So you can see there are all
sorts of layers of associations. The celebrant kneels. He recites quietly this
prayer during which time, someone has to sing this ode. And if you were in the
position of singing the ode, as I have been, you can never
predict how long this is going to take. How many stanzas of the ode you
will require because the rubric in the middle of the prayer
to the Holy Spirit says that the celebrant has to repeat
the first part of the prayer as many times as it takes
until such time as confidence in the upward contemplation of light be wonderfully
revealed to the celebrant. As you might imagine,
one cannot predict in advance how long it will
take for such confidence in the upward contemplation
of light and the revelation of this light will take. And so, Bianchini was very wise
in providing the entire text with music just in case. It is a very beautiful
moment, the celebrant and the singer both kneel
and usually these days, unlike this image where the
celebrant is holding the missal himself from which
to read the prayer. Two deacons also kneel holding
the missal on either side. This is another illustration
from Matenadaran missal of about the same period. You can see the deacons behind. One is holding the miter and
the celebrant is kneeling and saying the prayer. Rather more recently than the
18th Century, last October, I had the enormous pleasure
of bringing this melody back to life by singing this
Bianchini version of the ode in the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre in Jerusalem. I was not, of course, singing
from the beautiful Library of Congress manuscript
itself but rather from an electronic scan of it very kindly made
available to me by Levon. Now, you might like to
ask how old this ode is. Since when did it
come into existence? It is a question that I
have not been able to answer with certainty but I
have tried my best. We have the very great benefit
that there is a fine catalog by the later Father [Inaudible],
the former abbot of San Lazaro, where you can look up
all the odes that are in all the manuscripts
in San Lazaro, looking up their first lines. And there are over
60 manuscripts that could include this ode
which include odes and litanies. And only a single one out of
those 66 manuscripts, I think, if I’m right, includes the ode. And it is a rather
recent manuscript as Armenian manuscripts go, being copied out
in the year 1663. As it happens, in the Armenian
Church of the Holy Cross in Venice, a stone’s throw from Saint Mark’s
Basilica, as it happens. Moreover, we read that the
manuscript was discovered in the 19th Century
by none other than the poet monk Father Lewond
Alisan whose [Inaudible] we heard a moment ago
to Bianchini’s music. This is what the
manuscript looks like. But alas, although other items in the manuscript have
musical signs on them, this particular ode, the
ode that interests us, does not bear musical signs. But if we look at the
[Inaudible] Monastery in Vienna, there is a manuscript
from about the same period but it cannot be clearly dated as it does not have
a [inaudible] which does bear musical
signs known as neumes. Now, that does not necessarily
help us quite as much as one might hope because
we are sadly unable to decipher the medieval neumes. But we can tell various
things by looking at the notation over the words. We can see that the
melody, whatever it was, must have been fairly
simple because the density of the neumes is not
particularly high. And we mostly see
rather simple signs. But we can do a bit
better than that. We are extremely fortunate
in that a very great genius and probably the greatest
Armenian musicologist of modern times, the Constantinopolitan
Church musician Elia Tntesean who belonged more or less to the
same generation as Bianchini, carried out a lot of astute and meticulous detective
work enabling him not perhaps to decipher the meaning
of the neumes but to develop a conjecture, quite a convincing conjecture
although it is not quite 100% water tight, according
to which we can tell with reasonable certainty
the metrical durations of particular syllables
bearing some neumes or bearing no neumes at all. And if we apply his conjecture
to this manuscript of this ode, we find that there is, indeed, a
very exciting rhythm as follows. [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] It continues like this but
then in the middle of the ode, things get more exciting and the
rhythm changes and it becomes — [ Speaking in Foreign Language ] And then it returns to the regular five-four
sort of rhythm. There is a sort of dance-like
lilt to it, isn’t there? And I think that this is,
indeed, the sort of meter that would have — that the
ode would have been sung to. Now, none of the melodies that
are available to us at present from various traditions
correspond to the neumes because they are far more slower
and ornate melodies with a lot of notes being sung
to a single syllable. But it is interesting to go back and see what perhaps
this ode may have sounded like although alas, we are not
able to reconstruct the melody, only the meter and the rhythm
which we are able to do, thanks to the pioneering
work of Elia Tntesean. Now, let us turn to the melody that Bianchini was
able to transcribe. Before I do so, however, I
should like briefly to refer to a little pink slip of paper
that I found bound in the one of the Bianchini
manuscripts found in the archives of San Lazaro. On this occasion, as
on other occasions, Bianchini was painstakingly
leaving instructions to his singers, probably
Italian singers, as to how Armenian sacred
music ought to be performed. And his instructions
and by saying that if these chants are
performed as they should, then the result renders
them sublime and celestial and that one and the
same time, most pleasing to our hearts and to our ears. It is daunting having
sighted these words to make a feeble attempt to
sing a bit of the melody to you. It is not my singing that
will be sublime and celestial but I do hope that my singing
notwithstanding the melody may perhaps correspond to
such a description. There would be only
a little sound bite so that we do not miss the
reception this evening. [ Music ] And it continues in this vein. Time is — [ Applause ] I thank you for the
applause which naturally, I take as being directed
to three people, Bianchini who transcribed it,
whoever composed the melody, and of course, the poet
who composed the words. But it is a privilege to serve as their advocate in
my very small way. Now, a question rose in my mind
as I was preparing this lecture. It was very clear to me from
all the materials that I saw and from the meticulous
and painstaking nature of the transcription of
this beautiful manuscript and the general care that had
been taken in its production on the part of Bianchini
and it is abundantly obvious that this man was enamored
of Armenian sacred music into which he had immersed
himself in a very, very big way. And although he had
a very active and distinguished career writing
a lot of pieces in the tradition of his day — non-Armenian
pieces, of course — I wondered if there
could be some means of finding any possible
connections might he have been somehow influenced by his
immersion into the sound world of these ancient Armenian
chants and their modality in his compositions
in a western style. Alas, most of his pieces are
unpublished and one needs to travel to all sorts
of places in Italy and gradually uncover them,
something that God willing, I should very much like
to do in future years. But upon conducting the
Bianchini Symphonia of 1863 and remember, it
was composed a year after Bianchini published this
ode in a little booklet in 1862, only a year previously. After having conducted the
piece, I looked at the score and then I was struck
by what one might refer to as a little oddity. The melody that I
sang of the ode, it has a very characteristic
motif. [ Music ] And this occurs twice
in the first stanza and another two occasions
in the second stanza. And it tends to linger in
the mind, at least it stayed in my mind when I first
looked at the ode. [ Music ] And yet, you will recall that
the symphony that we heard, the Symphonia with which
we started has the theme — [ Music ] Now, if we forget about
the rhythm and just look at the notes and the skeleton — [ Music ] — it is almost identical to
that of the motif in the ode. This is pure speculation on
my part, ladies and gentlemen. It might be just the
fancy but I like to think that subconsciously possibly, this motif from [Inaudible]
may have lingered in Bianchini’s mind
and somehow re-emerged as the theme of this Symphonia. I don’t know if this
is indeed the case. We’re not in a position
to ask the master but it’s an intriguing
thought nonetheless. I should like to end by
saying that this was an age of cultural titans, people like
Lewond Alisan, [Inaudible], many others, Elia Tntesean
— Bianchini himself, I would also put
in that category. And it was an exciting era not
only because of an awakening on the part of the Armenians
but because of the very, very beautiful fruits
that emerged as the result of the interaction between
Armenian and European cultures. And this happened
not only in music. It happened in terms of
spirituality and theology. It happened in literature
particularly in poetry as we all know. And this manuscript
documents precisely that. It exemplifies and embodies
one of those fruits, a Venetian Italian
music transcribing into western notation and harmonizing an
ancient Armenian ode. Had he not transcribed it, we
would probably have lost it because this melody is not known to the San Lazaro
monks at present. And this manuscript is like
a diamond that sheds light in all sorts of direction
suggesting avenues for future research. And I feel so very
fortunate and blessed that this manuscript has
been preserved and these kept at the Library of Congress
for our own generation and future generations
to study and to enjoy. And moreover, it is here where it is really disseminated
electronically to anyone who may care to have a look at
it which is something that is of very great value and which
the Library of Congress shares with the National
Library of Armenia. And I feel above all, a
tremendous and profound debt of gratitude to Dr.
Levon Avdoyan, thanks to whose excellent
nose for such things and unerring instinct
and his untiring efforts, this manuscript has
been acquired by the Library of Congress. So please accept my
gratitude for this as well as many other things of which
today’s unique conference is but one. In thanking Levon, I should
also like to thank a number of other individuals
and these institutions without whose generosity
and kindness, this research would
not have been possible. Thank you very much indeed for your attention,
ladies and gentlemen. [ Applause ]>>Levon Avdoyan: Alas, this day
has actually flown by for me. It’s been a combination of
several months of planning. I would truly want to thank all
of my speakers, our speakers, some of whom have come
from long distances abroad and are going to leave sadly. It is — people who know me, I usually just say thank
you if I’m not pleased. What I am going to say is
true in every single case which is each and every one of these papers has
exceeded my expectations of what I hoped would happen. And I hope those of you who have
lasted all day, will go away with what I wanted you to feel which is Armenian
history is extremely more than just a few isolated facts. So thank you for attending. Thank you for my
wonderful speakers. And I hope you will all attend
the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in the next two weeks and enjoy Armenian culture
on a different plane. Thank you. [ Applause ]>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at loc.gov.

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