Aphorisms



8. Armenian Dance No. 4. Komitas Vardapet (Armenia, 1905)

We tend to forget that Great War affected every continent. Indeed, right at the European border, the Ottoman Empire carried out one of the most large-scale genocides of the 20th century. Often referred to as the Great Crime, one and a half million Armenians lost their lives in this period. The Armenian affair inspired the jurist Raphael Lemkin to coin the term genocide, first used during the Nuremberg trials of 1945 and declared a crime by International Law in 1946. The great Armenian composer Soghomon Gevorgi Soghomonian—a.k.a Komitas Vardapet—managed to escape death thanks to the help of a few important Turkish poets and writers as well as the U.S. Ambassador in Turkey. After the Great Crime, however, Komitas refused to speak and gave up composition. He spent his last years in silence as an intern in a psychiatric hospital outside of Paris.