In Memoriam: Maestro Krikor Pidedjian

1935 - 2019

Maestro Krikor Pidedjian (1935-2019)

Musicologist Krikor Pidedjian died on July 30, 2019. Maestro Pidedjian was internationally recognized as a talented musicologist, whose long career contributed to furthering the quality of Armenian cultural life and depth of knowledge in Armenian music.

Krikor Pidedjian was born into a musical family in Alexandria, Egypt on August 17, 1935. His father Bedros had been a volunteer in the Armenian Legion. His mother Marie was a fountain of knowledge insofar as Armenian song was concerned. His love of music was further nurtured by his music teacher, Garbis Aprigian, at the Boghosian National School.

Years later, he studied at the Theological Seminary of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon under the prominent hymnologist Knel Vardapet Jerejian and famed musicologist Hampartzoum Berberian. He subsequently studied at the Beirut Conservatory while he bore the dual responsibilities of teacher at the Seminary and musical director of the St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral of the Catholicosate. In 1960, he formed a 30-member male chorus to sing the mass composed by Komitas Vardapet on solemn occasions. 

In 1962, he came to New York, and with the blessing of one of Komitas Vardapet’s famous students, ethnomusicologist and song collector Mihran Toumajan, he formed the Kousan Chorus. This group performed for about ten years, eventually forming the core of the Armenian Cultural Association, now known as Hamazkayin. Pidedjian was one of that association’s founders.  

In 1964, together with dance director Nvart Hamparian, he organized the first Armenian song and dance ensemble in America. The 120-member group showcased its talent on “Armenia day” at the World’s Fair in the same year to an audience of over 10,000. Pidedjian was recognized for his work by New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller.

In 1970, he received a BS degree in choral conducting from the Mannes School of Music, where in his senior year, he had been the assistant conductor of the choir of the Mannes College of Music. He received an MS from Hunter College thereafter. For many years he taught music in the New York City public school system.

In that same year, Pidedjian also established the professional choir at St. Vartan Cathedral in New York City and conducted it until 1981.

Pidedjian’s arrangements and original compositions of religious, patriotic and folk music have drawn audiences in Armenia, Argentina, Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and the United States. His string orchestral and brass concerts were unique in their creativity and inspiration. He was always a generous source of information for all with an interest in Armenian music.

His music has appeared in the official publications of the Catholicosate of Etchmiadzin (Etchmiadzin), the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia (Hask), as well as in many religious and secular publications in the United States. He regularly contributed essays and critiques of books and musical compositions to the Armenian press in both Armenia and the Diaspora. He continually gave lectures to the Armenian communities in the United States. A compact disc recording entitled Yergapsak (“Wreath of Song”) dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide was made in Armenia under the directorship of Pidedjian.

His books in Armenian include Andzink Nviryalk (“Devoted Persons”); The Place of Armenian Revolutionary Songs in Armenian Music; Is Krikor Narekatzi a Hymnographer?; Kristapor Kara-Murza; and The Music of the Armenian Church (in Armenian and English).

On October 17, 2008, Pidedjian was made a member of Armenia’s prestigious Society of Composers and Musicologists. On October 23, 2010, a grandiose celebration marking Pidedjian’s 75th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his contribution to the world of Armenian music was organized by Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory Director Sergey Sarajian and Publication Department Director Gohar Shagoyan at the House-Museum of Aram Khatchaturian. On this occasion, Yerazhshtakan Hayastan (“Musical Armenia”) periodical director Gohar Shagoyan dedicated issue 2(37) to the Pidedjian’s life and contributions to Armenian music.

Krikor Pidedjian was the recipient of numerous awards and commendations, including the St. Nerses Shnorhali medal from His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, a gold medal from the Central Committee of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society and an Honorary Professor Diploma from the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory. 

The Dahn Gark visitation took place on August 1 at St. Gregory the Enlightener Armenian Church in White Plains, New York, followed by funeral services at the same church and interment at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Flushing, New York on August 2nd. Krikor Pidedjian is survived by his wife, Beatrice (Kachian); son Datev and wife Jeanne; son, Antovk and wife Ani; grandchildren, Alexandra, Adam, Stephen, Kyle and Daron; brother Boghos and wife Takouhie; and sister Haigouhie Ganimian.  

Memorial donations may be made to:

St. Nersess Armenian Seminary
486 Bedford Road
Armonk, NY 10504

or

Hamazkayin Eastern United States
80 Bigelow Avenue
Watertown, MA 02472

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Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles written and submitted by members of the community, which make up our community bulletin board.
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