It is with utmost sadness that we announce the passing of the world-renown conductor and composer Ohan Duryan at age 88 in Yerevan. He leaves behind him a rich professional legacy, which will undoubtedly be celebrated for years to come.
Born in Jerusalem and having directed Oper Leipzig and Moscow Symphonic Orchestra (and the Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra in the 1950’s), Maestro Duryan was among a handful of Armenian intellectuals in the world, who was also an active citizen…..of Armenia, where he repatriated following independence. He was among a few professionals of that caliber, who ever since the fraudulent presidential election in 2003 stood side-by-side his people on the streets of Yerevan and spoke openly against the wrongdoings of Kocharyan-Sargsyan regime. At a rally in 2003 against election falsifications orchestrated by Robert Kocharyan, he said:
“Mr. President, you want to rule the country for another 5 years to wreak havoc in it. Have we created free and independent Armenia for making it completely deserted or for turning blind eye to crimes committed to let you manipulate people? …. “People should respect their president and president should respect his people.”
Unfortunately, too many pseudo-intellectuals in the Armenian world sought to secure a place “under the sun” regardless of the cost. Their spineless ass-kissing (for lack of a better word) and desire to be close to the regime had overshadowed Maestro Duryan’s selfless pursuit of freedom and justice for his people and made him an exception rather than the rule. He may or may not have realized that this contrast made him more popular with people in Armenia and outside.
Bon voyage, Maestro… To many of those, who fought for Artsakh’s liberation and continued to fight for freedom in Armenia ever since, you will remain a brother-in-arms. For the underdogs who dreamed of a free and independent Armenia but instead got their voices rigged and future stolen, you will forever remain an icon of integrity and patriotism, a true angel with a heavenly smile.
P.S. Having lost two great Armenians in the past week, one wonders if we are ever going to learn from the legacy of our greatest and stand up for what is right for our country and fellow citizens, regardless of how important our jobs and titles might be….or are we instead going to continue going on with our own daily lives without so much as a token of effort toward righting the wrong? How many Ohan Duryans and Barry Zorthians is it going to take for us to get this thing right? The bad news is that there aren’t too many of them left anymore…the time is ticking.
(Photo courtesy of German Avagyan, 1991).