Lark Musical Society deeply mourns the passing of Bedros Alahaidoyan — artist, musicologist, folklorist, researcher, and dear friend of the organization.
Bedros will remain one of the pillars of Armenian diasporan musicology, a field which began in the 1930s with the publication of a scientifically valuable and thoroughly detailed essay dedicated to Komitas, by Shahan Berberian. After him, MihranTumajan took the reins of Armenian musicological publications, and he was succeeded by music critic Bedros Alahaidoyan. Bedros’s analytical, encouraging, and critical articles have earned him a permanent standing in the field.
He often critiqued musical and theatrical performances in high-flying, pure, Western Armenian — even using neologisms to express the spirit of his experience (“bewailing,” “self-sustained,” “crisp-rayed,” “rebreathe,” “musico-lyrical,” etc.). The Armenian literary public eagerly waited to read Bedros’s (Bedo to his friends) evaluation or critical statements in the daily newspapers “Aztag” (Lebanon) and “Asbarez” (United States).
Bedros disseminated a lot of pro-Armenian material in Belgium as well, where he worked for the station Radio-Télévison Belge. His work there often included preparing half and one-hour programs specifically about Armenian music.
During his stay in Belgium he studied pharmacy, per his father’s wishes, and successfully graduated, becoming certified as a pharmacist by the pharmacy school at the University of Louvain. Bedros then also graduated from Brussels University as a musicologist.
In Europe, he had a wide network of artist and musician friends, with whom he explored the artistic issues of the day, encouraging his friends to express their thoughts and ideas about Armenian music as well. During those meetings quite a few works were born (notably W. Van Belle’s “Gomesh,” written in a modern style, using intonations modeled after Komitas’s “Plowing Song of Lori”). European musicians such as Leo Küpper, Paul Bouts, and others, have performed and become familiar with Armenian works through Bedros’s preparation and initiative.
In the second phase of his life, Alahaidoyan devoted himself to collecting Armenian folk songs. Traveling to various communities of the Diaspora, he would record fragments of Armenian songs, which elders had learned and sung since childhood. There are many valuable and unique song samples in those recordings.
Alongside this work, he exemplified appreciation and encouragement of musical organizations in the Diaspora, including the Hamazkayin Educational and Cultural Union and Lark Music Society, standing up for the cultural activities of these different communities.
As a result of his extensive work in musical collection, Bedros Alahaidoyan was able to publish three books, including: “An Ethno-musicological Collection of Palou and its Environs,” “Drazark” Publishing, Glendale, California, 2009; “Ethnographic Characteristics of Song Samples from Van-Vaspurakan,” published by “Vahram Aptalian” Cultural Foundation of the AGBU, 2015; P. Kanachian: “Anthology of Songs and Choral Works” Two volumes, edited by Bedros Hovsep Alahaidoyan (folklorist/musicologist) and Dr. Tzovig Mugurian-Markarian (musical editor and engraver), under the aegis of Aram I Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, Antilias, 2019.
Bedros contributed invaluably to the preparation of two CD projects produced at the initiative of Hamazkayin: Recording of Armenian Romances, performed by Arpine and Elizabeth Pehlivanian and the publication of Parsegh Ganachian’s three CDs in Armenia.
As a researcher, material concerns never took ascendancy for Bedros. He was completely devoted to art, especially music. Upon receipt of his diploma in pharmacy, he handed it over to his father, saying, “Can I now do what I want?” – and what he wanted was to plunge into the world of music and art. Being musically educated was very important to him, and he had strong natural abilities and unique gifts. For example, he could sing the violin scores of complex violin concertos uttering the names of each note quickly and without mistakes, which always left a stunned impression on his friends. He was also a fluent violinist.
It is undeniable that in his work, Bedros Alahaidoyan, has made several valuable contributions to the field of Armenian music. He took his inspiration in collecting folksong samples from Komitas himself. When he presented the wealth of his collection in Armenia, he earned awe, admiration, and high appreciation from Armenian musicologists. They saw in these works their specifically Armenian character – the emotional, captivating (in both lyrical and intonational qualities) and deep-rooted national attributes of the songs – most standing out as consummate musical masterpieces.
We hope that the entirety of Alahaidoyan’s work – including: the exclusive song samples collected from the mouths of the elderly meticulously guarded and passed on through repetition; the recordings of testimonials and songs, by Armenians scattered throughout the Diaspora (some of which are posted on the “Houshamadian” website); his publications and personal contributions to the musical life of the Diaspora; and the respectable list of outstanding articles, most of which are still in his archive – will be organized, prepared and evaluated by capable musicologists in the future, for the benefit of forthcoming generations.
A word about Bedros’s relationship with the Lark Musical Society: Bedo never missed an opportunity to champion and admire the activities of Lark. The Society’s administration, staff, faculty, and student body cherish the relationship they had with musicologist Bedros Alahaidoyan. His loss is felt deeply throughout the organization, which has, time and again, looked to his intellectual leadership, counted on his wisdom, and shared with him the kinship of a deep love for music and the Armenian culture.
We wonder if the day will come, when, talking about any prominent Armenian figure in the Diaspora, we will, perhaps, refrain from classifying them as hyphenated Armenians. Rather, on account of their extraordinary life-long dedication, toiling toward the preservation of the values of their mother nation—values that come, after all, from the age-old traditions of the homeland—they will not be known as hyphenated Armenians, but simply Armenian.