The Suni Project: Music Preservation preserves and presents the beautiful and special music of Armenian composer GRIKOR MIRZAIAN SUNI (1876-1939), one of the founders of modern Armenian music. He came from a long line of folk musicians and was highly educated in all the formal learning centers of his time. His music is based in Armenian folk tradition yet is unique and fully developed as art music. He “composed some of the sweetest lyrical pieces in the realm of Armenian music”.
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“Armenian Music: Sketches in Armenian Musicological History”
Mirzaian Suni’s book (ca. 1919) “Armenian Music: Sketches in Armenian Musicological History” newly translated into English and just published in Armenia in the original Armenian with English translation along with Suni’s autobiography!
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A Preface to Volume Four, 1947, of Armenian Song Bouquets: Music of Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939)
Philadelphia, Suni Publication Committee, [American-] Armenian Musical Society- Americahai Yerazhshdakan Miyootyoon,
By Ferdinand Kaimakamian, 1930′s musicology student of Suni. Translated by Ferdinand Kaimakamian 10-18-2002, Corona, NY
It is almost impossible to condense the huge achievements by the most talented composer Grikor Mirzayan Suni in the musical culture of Armenian music. In the long period of forty-five years of hard work, [he was] the matchless master of Armenian music- creative, operatic, symphonic- particularly in the field of folk and popular precious music.
“In the field of musical culture, he achieved great contribution; he was the only composer in his time who cultivated folk songs and a capella, introduced new polyphonic styles, which were an absolutely new conception to Armenians and to Armenian music. In addition to his creative activity, Grikor Suni is also well known for his pedagogical activity”, states [the] professor composer Anushavan Ter Ghevondian from Armenia.
In the phalanx of Armenian composers, G.M. Suni appears as the founder of Armenian free classical compositions. His compositions bear higher understanding and depth of inspiration. His original compositions reflect the genuine quality of Armenian folk songs, [with] very smooth flow of sweet melodic music within harmony which reflects uniqueness of creative genius. It is in this field of compositions one must notice the greatness of Grikor M. Suni. No wonder that some music critics called Suni the Chopin of Armenian music because of his music’s delicate melody. In our modest opinion, G.M. Suni still is eminently supreme.
For these reasons above, it is my pleasure to mention below a few of my unforgettable teacher Grikor M. Suni’s original compositions from hundreds of his songs:
- In 1900-03, Grikor M. Suni established the first free creative compositions such as Indz Mi Khndrir (Beseech Me Not), Yete Mi Or (If One Day), Mayisn Yekav (May Arrived), Akh Al Vardi (Akh, of the Red Rose), Tooy-Tooy (Love Song), and successively Katsek Amper (Disperse Clouds), Mshooshne Patel (Mist Has Covered), Janus Mrmoor (My Sorrowful Soul), Miayn Kez (Only for You), Yarali Yar Jan (Wounded Sweetheart), and many more songs.
- In the life of Caucasian Armenians, Suni appears as the author of the first Armenian opera: Areknazan in 1906 as operetta and in 1908-14 as opera with his own libretto.
- Grikor M. Suni was the first one writing symphony using Armenian folk song motifs and nuances in captivating melodious elements. As for instrumental music, it is worthy to mention the following symphonic pieces belonging to Grikor M. Suni: Hoynar, Sketches of Van, Orientale, March of Zeytoon, Lorik, Arik Haigazoonk, March of Erzurum, etc…
- In Tiflis (Georgia) with Aristakesian, Suni established the foundation of the first translated [into Armenian] operatic presentations.
- We owe to Grikor M. Suni the honor of his being first in writing Armenian folk songs in symphonic forms. In addition, he was a dynamic conductor of musical chorus unmatched well after fifty years after his passing away. A writer who knew Suni for years, in his letter stated that “we may not have another Suni for over one century to come.” In the United States of America, he won twice the first prize in the International [Folk] Music Contest with his own songs and conducting.
- G.M.Suni has composed, cultivated and polyphonized well over 860 songs, over 16 symphonic works, 40 fugues and three operas. And finally, among Armenians, he was the first librettist composer.
To know G. M. Suni, for me it meant to admire him; and to admire his genius for me it meant to see his soul in its entire beauty, his artistic nobleness in all of his fraternal relations. The world of his mind was only able for kindness, constructive and sublime ideology.
The disappearing decades followed his passing in December 18, 1939; more painfully is felt the void he left behind; he was an unforgettable teacher, patriot and artist. Thousands paid respect to his memory and memorial concerts.
The publication of the Fourth Volume of Armenian Song Bouquet of Suni songs would not have become a reality had it not been for the tireless effort and moral sacrifice and energy of Dr. Lucy E. Gulezian. She was the inspiring force, the director of the Suni Publication Committee & Armenian-American Musical Society.
Introduction to Armenian Song Bouquets Volume III
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