One of the first modern genocides began on this day in 1915, when Ottoman Turks systematically killed one and a half million minority Armenians. Far more is known and has been written about the Nazi genocide of Jews than what happened here during World War I (I would include Cambodia’s two million citizens murdered during Pol Pot’s regime as well….less is known there, too). Today the Armenian holocaust day is observed.
I’m not going to write any more about politics, but history also plays a role in music. I simply want to commemorate today by featuring a moving song by the great duduk (traditional Armenian double-reed oboe, made of apricot wood) virtuoso Djivan Gasparyan.
You’ve probably heard the duduk before, even if you didn’t know it. Its plaintive, evocative sound is often featured in motion picture soundtracks where extra emotion or pathos is required.
Brian Eno was in Russia–then still called the Soviet Union, or USSR, before the breakup in 1991. He was in a friend’s apartment and heard what he said was “the most soulful music I’ve ever heard”. It was Djivan Gasparyan’s lp on the state-run Melodya label. Eno was determined to bring Djivan’s music to the world, and licensed it in 1988 on his Opal Records Ltd. label.
The album came out after the devastating 1988 earthquake in Armenia that killed many thousands of people and left the country devastated. Eno renamed the cd I WILL NOT BE SAD IN THIS WORLD. It is both an affirmation and a prayer. Thus it is appropriate music to feature on this day.
Here is my favorite song from the hauntingly beautiful album: