In Constantinople Komitas could not find any unconditional like-minded people who would help him implement his plans. Moreover, while in Echmiadzin he was together with his native people and close to its living style and art, in Constantinople he was deprived of it.
These years for Komitas were periods of exhaustion, disappointment, and realization of his loneliness and despair, doubts in relation to the future of Armenian music. Nevertheless, he continued to work hard. Komitas paid special attention to the composition of church music. This is how his masterpiece “Patarag” (“Liturgy”) came about. It was written for a male choir, where the composer incarnated the soul and character of spiritual monody. The music of “Patarag” is unique for its original beauty, magnificence and national style.
Komitas was especially interested in revealing the mystery of khazzes in respect to scientific problems to which he had devoted 20 years of his life. Komitas considered the decoding of khazzes a task of great importance believing that it would give an opportunity to fully study the Armenian medieval music, which was still hidden in the manuscripts coming from ancient times. “It is true I have found the key to the Armenian khazzes and I even read simple records, but I have not come to an end as yet. Let the Armenian society forgive me and wait until I, to the extent of my abilities, complete the hard research delayed for over 16 years. I hope that in the near future they will become the property of the society in separate volumes”.
In Leipzig Komitas published two small collections of treatments of folk songs; he prepared two collections of his songs named “Armenian peasant songs” for publication.
Musicology was also an important field for him. In Paris at the Conference of the International Music Society he gave two presentations: “Armenian Folk Music” and “On Old and New Notation of Armenian Spiritual Music”. These provoked great interest among the participants of the conference. Komitas was also requested to give an spontaneous presentation on the topic: “On Time, Place, Accentuation and Rhythm of Armenian Music.” Komitas wrote about this: “The information I gave about Armenian spiritual and peasant music was a novelty, especially to them who, a year before, did not know or acknowledge the existence of the independent Armenian music... I am happy that all these well-known masters could go as deep as possible into Armenian music and manifest its strength and tenderness, without fear to call it divine”.
Komitas spoke of his future plans: “I have made my way along the path of life through many years’ work till now and I will go on further with it as long as I have strength in my veins. No obstacle will stop me in my mission because I am convinced of its truthfulness with all my heart.” However, Komitas was unaware that he was not destined to continue his path, and that he would become a victim of Turkish executioners.
In the period of World War I the government of Young Turks initiated their monstrous program on violent and inhumane extermination of part of the Armenian people.
In April 1915, Komitas was arrested together with the number of outstanding Armenian writers, publicists, physicians, and lawyers. After the arrest, accompanied by violence, he was deported far in Anatolia where he became a witness of the brutal extermination of the nation’s bright minds. His friends: poets and writers – Daniel Varuzhan, Siamanto, Rouben Sevak, Grigor Zograb, perished as martyrs. The enemies showed no mercy in killing unprotected women, children and old people. And in spite of the fact that due to the intervention of influential figures Komitas was returned to Constantinople, the nightmare he had experienced left a deep ineradicable impression on his soul. Komitas remained in seclusion from the outer world, absorbed in his gloomy and heavy thoughts – sad and broken. Mental shock continuously tormented Komitas. He was appalled by the total extermination of his people and the absolute indifference of the world. The last note left by Komitas, when the last sparks of consciousness had not yet faded, was full of despair and deep depression: “The flock is without a shepherd, lost and mingled, invisible and turbulent waves are lapping in the depth of the sea of our suffering and tragic life. Thoughtless hunters stand, the nets full of naive fish. The atmosphere breathes poison, there is no healing power; devastation, awe and interminable violence on one hand, and indifference, alienation and dirty hearts on the other… Where is our thinker Khorenatsi? Let him rise from the blood-soaked ground and mourn for the hearts, souls, thoughts, and lives of our descendants… My heart is broken…”
In 1916 Komitas’ health deteriorated and he was put in a psychiatric hospital. However, there was no hope that he would recover. The medicine was powerless against the destructive disease.
The genius of Armenian music found his final shelter in Paris, in the suburban sanatorium Vil-Jouif where he spent almost 20 years of his life.
In 1921, the artist Panos Terlemezyan visited him. Conversing about life and death, the composer said that death did not exist. Then, pointing at his room, he exclaimed: “But if it’s not a grave, then what is it?” On that day he refused to sing for the first time of his life, saying: “No, now I sing only to myself, and I sing very quietly.”
On the 22nd of October the life of the Great Komitas came to an end. In the
spring of 1936 his remains were transported to Armenia and buried in Yerevan – in the pantheon of prominent art figures.
No less tragic was the destiny of Komitas’ creative legacy. The majority of his manuscripts were destroyed or lost all over the world. The result of the composer’s many years’ work was completely lost: the scientific research on khazzes, the majority of folk music records and his own works which were of immense value to Armenian music.
“The Armenian people found and recognized its soul, its spiritual nature” in Komitas’ songs. Komitas Vardapet is a beginning having no end. He will live through the Armenian people, and they must live through him, now and forever”.
(Vazgen I, the Catholicos of all Armenians)