“Armenians Lead in Every Sphere” – the Minister of Culture of the Ottoman Empire

A Turkish newspaper “Yeshilgazete” published an article about the life of the Armenian composer Komitas (Կոմիտաս), telling the story of how the top leadership of the Young Turks and Talaat Pasha personally applauded the musician during his concert in Turkey.

The concert was held in early April, 1915, and was attended by the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Ottoman Empire Talaat Pasha and the Minister of Culture and Education Amdula Tanrovern. They described Komitas with the following words:

“The son of Anatolia, as a result of many years of work, gave wings to Armenian music. Having refused to rest, he devoted all his time to collecting various works from distant villages. He gathered and presented the cultural heritage of the Armenians. Our officials and actors should perform in this way. We must work diligently to develop the Turkish society.”

The Turkish newspaper wrote that the Minister of Culture and Education also complained that in all spheres, Armenians occupied a leading position.

“The reality is that the Armenian culture is developing faster than the Ottoman Empire culture. In every corner of Anatolia, you can see the talent of Armenians. Their works and goods scream: “We are here.” Everywhere, you can see an Armenian architect or a jeweler. All scientific books were written by Armenians. Armenians are the people with whom we lived for several centuries,” the minister said.

After these words, the whole hall began to applaud Komitas. Among the applauding was Talaat Pasha, who ordered to begin the mass extermination of Armenians a few days later.

Ovations did not save Komitas on April 24, 1915. He was taken away and thrown into one cell together with writers Siamanto and Daniel Varoujan. On the next day, he was deported. He managed to escape and even returned to Constantinople, but he was never able to come back to his normal life.

The last 20 years of his life, Komitas spent in a psychiatric clinic in the Paris suburb of Villejuif. Disputes about whether he was really sick or not are still going on to this day.

Original article: yesilgazete.org Doğu’nun Offenbach’ı Gomidas Vartabed İstanbul’da anılacak – Ercüment Gürçay

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