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Having contributed so much to Armenian culture with his treatments of Armenian folk art, Komitas left surprisingly few examples of original works. Nevertheless, the analysis of them paints quite a complete picture of his creative ideology and the stylistic eccentricities of his thoughts.
Komitas' earliest creative works - "National Hymn" and the poem "Village Chapel" by Hovhannes Hovhannessian set to music - date from his seminarian years. The works from his years as a student in Berlin are of incomparably higher value. They are romances and choruses on texts of German poets, the psalm "By the Rivers of Babylon" and the choral piece "Native Language". His first attempts to harmonize liturgy date also from this same period.
In his romances on German poetry, one can feel the influence of the musical language of German Romantic composers. The four-part chorus "New Spring" on words by Otto Rognett (Komitas translated the lyrics into Armenian), "You ask" (text by Joanna Ambrosios) and "Nocturne" (words by Goethe) set to music are among them. In the archives, there is also a Russian translation of "Nocturne" by Lermontov, written in Komitas' own hand.
Komitas wrote the song "By the Rivers of Babylon" for four- or eight-part chorus, soprano, tenor, and organ on David's Psalm 137, in a German version. The persecution of the ancient Hebrews and their revenge toward the Babylonians received a unique, specific treatment in this work. The composer seemed to pass from the legendary, remote past of the Gospels to the contemporary life of his people and thereby expressed the Armenians' national grief and poignantly touched upon their struggle for liberation. Realistically treating the Biblical plot and assigning it to the most pressing problems of his people, in this work the composer came out as both a citizen and an artist. The composer created "By the Rivers of Babylon" using the expressive means of classical music; it possesses a smooth melodic line in which he used some polyphonic devices modestly but purposefully. The psalm's musical language has some kind of nationalistic nuance. In this manner, Komitas even used Armenian motifs, e.g. at the beginning of the songs "On the Banks of the Mother Araks" and "I Heard a Sweet Voice".
The poem "Native Language, Native Dialect" by Stephan Nazarian set to music in Germany is one of the strongest expressions of the composer's patriotic feelings. Komitas realized the great importance of using propaganda in the native language as part of the struggle for national liberation.
The song "Native Language, Native Dialect", written for two-part chorus was influenced by lyrical Armenian town songs. Some years later, he returned to this type of work and set Nerses Mezpurian's poem "Oh Great Language" to music, which is notable for the mastery of its choral writing. "Europeanisms", which are observable in the song, did not prevent it from spreading widely, so that it became truly accepted.
Independent from national sources are the extensive chorus "Spring", the romance "I Had a Rest in the Garden" (lyrics of both compositions by H. Hovhannessian), the march of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, etc.
Drafts for operas are also among Komitas' original compositions. Unfortunately, the composer failed to finish the lyrical "Anoush" (by H .Toumanian), the comical "The Harm of Good Breeding" (by H. Paronian), the historical "Vardan" (probably by R. Patkanian), and the epic "David of Sasoun". The preserved manuscripts include some drafts of the opera "Vardan" and a small part of "David of Sasoun". According to some researchers, Komitas completed the first, second and partly third scenes of the opera "The Harm of Good Breeding". In addition, there are some fragments of "Anoush", which testify to the bright national orientation of the opera. The composer used both peasants' melodies and some of his own, which are as simple and understandable as the folk ones. In the opera, there are two completed vocal fragments where Komitas used some songs of gousans (folk singers).
In Komitas' heritage, there are pearls frequently referred to as his treatments, in spite of their originality and the inventive compositional principles found in them. They are the miniature "Kagavik" ("Partridge") (lyrics by H. Toumanian), the extensive song-improvisation "Antuni" ("Song of the Homeless") and the song-march "The Braves of Sypan" (text by Manuk Abeghian). On the whole, these songs are original compositions.
"Kagavi erg" (also known as "Kagavik") was written for one-part chorus, piano and solo singer. It is the result of a collaboration between Komitas and Hovhannes Toumanian, the notable Armenian poet, whose creative work is also closely connected to folklore. That is why the melody, text and accompaniment are united so organically in this miniature. The melody is based on an imitation of the mountain-dwelling partridge and the piano accompaniment splashes with its lively arpeggio as if depicting its cheerful character. We now have a number of treatments of Komitas' "Kagavik" for various instruments. The different treatments of the miniature "Kagavik" are included in the curricula of many music schools in Armenia.
The vast choral compositions "Lo-lo" and "The Braves of Sypan" reveal another world of images. "Lo-lo" remains a noteworthy sample of the heroic style in choral music. Here Komitas acquires more freedom in terms of organizing the choral texture: melodic and keen turns of the tenors represent the war cries of approaching Armenian forces.
The melody of "Antuni", in its size, the complexity of its form and tonal structure and other aspects of self-expression, goes far beyond the borders of Komitas' treatment. The long-lasting notes at the end of each stanza, sigh-pauses and tense recitative exclamations - all of these devices provide Komitas' music with an inimitable emotional appeal and overall drama.
As a whole, Komitas created a mighty image of a wandering martyr expelled from his own land and doomed to die overseas.
Komitas was so busy treating peasants' songs that he spent very little time on the creation of works independent from that primary source. Despite this, even judging by the revealing, above-mentioned documentation, one can admit that he created a number of original compositions of lasting artistic value.