Barsegh Kanachyan

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Barsegh Kanachyan (in Armenian Բարսեղ Կանաչյան, pronounced Parsegh Ganatchian in Western Armenian) (born in Tekirdağ, Ottoman Empire in 1885  – died in Beirut, Lebanon in 1967) was a Lebanese-Armenian composer and conductor. He most notably composed the music to "Mer Hayrenik", the Armenian national anthem. He also made the arrangement of a famous traditional Armenian lullaby "Oror Im Palas" (in Armenian Օրօր Իմ Բալաս). He is founder and director/conductor of "Gnar" (in Western Armenian "Knar") wind orchestra and the "Gusan" (in Western Armenian "Kousan") choirs in Istanbul and the similarly named "Gusan" choir (1933 -1961) in Beirut. He was awarded with the National Order of the Cedar, a high Lebanese presidential award for promoting friendship between the Armenian and Lebanese peoples.

Career[edit]

Kanachyan was born in Rodosto, present-day Tekirdağ, the Ottoman Empire. His family moved to Constantinople, present-day Istanbul in 1888 where he received his primary education. Then the family moved to Varna, where he studied music theory, playing the violin and conducting lessons under the supervision of Natanbeg Amirkhanyan. In 1903, he studied playing the piano and harmony in Bucharest, returning to Istanbul in 1908, where he formed the "Gnar" wind orchestra (in Armenian «Քնար»). His meeting with Komitas Vardapet in December 1910 was decisive in his career. He also established in Turkey the "Gusan" choir (in Armenian «Գուսան»). He also continued his education in harmony and conducting.

In 1919, he conducted a concert dedicated to Komitas and his works with 300 singers and musicians. Starting 1920, he continued his musical education in Paris, France and starting 1922, worked in conducting in various Armenian diaspora venues.

In 1928, he moved to Nicosia, Cyprus where he taught music at the prestigious Melkonian Educational Institute and from 1933 at Beirut, Lebanon's Neshan Palandjian College (Djemaran). In 1936, he established "Gusan" (in Armenian «Գուսան», in Western Armenian Kousan) choir in 1933 that he directed and conducted personally. The activities of the choir continued until 1961 under his direction in Beirut, Lebanon. Its first concert was in the American University of Beirut Memorial Hall, where 70 male and female singers took part. "Gusan" has had recitals in many venues in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt and its repertoire also included in addition to Armenian national, folkloric and spiritual songs, songs occasionally in other languages including Arabic, Kurdish etc. In 1936, a music association named «Գուսան երաժշտասիրաց միութիւն» was also formed for encouraging the project and developing love of music and its propagation amongst the Armenians.

The Lebanese government awarded him the National Order of the Cedar for promoting friendship between the Armenian and Lebanese peoples.

Kanachyan died May 24, 1967 in Beirut, Lebanon. The Armenian cultural association Hamazkayin established an arts institute carrying his name in Lebanon.