A brief squabble interrupted the presentation of a new UNESCO-connected website about the duduk, when a historian asked why the well known Baku-born dudukist Minasov wasn’t mentioned in the section about duduk makers. It happens that Minasov developed a duduk extension of sorts that expands the range of the duduk. After that, the event continued, with Gevorg Dabaghyan and composer Vache Sharafyan conducting the program.
Afterwards, during the reception, I met with a historian I had done some work for in the past, the subject almost immediately turning to the problem, now bordering war, between US-based Armenologists and historians from Armenia:
“We were frustrated in Soviet times,” he said. “We knew we had to stay in line to keep our jobs. My father was a historian, and wouldn’t have attained his position had he told the truth about Armenian history. This always bothered him. Then, Armenia became independent. We were all happy, thinking we could correct what the Soviets had forced down our throats, that Armenian history doesn’t go back that far.
“I think the students who went to Richard Hovhannisian at UCLA and refused to continue to study using the version of Armenian history Hovhannisian was using were in the right. Why continue with this out-dated, foreign-born history of Armenians appearing on the scene when Darius first wrote the name of Armenia. We have proved that the names of Urartu and the others had Armenian roots. And that our alphabet is far older than what we’ve been taught. Artur Armin, Paris Herouni, and other academicians are right. Enough is enough.”
Outside, near the exit, Hasmik and I met with opera singer Barsegh Tumanyan and his son, Davit. We asked Tumanyan if it was true that he was going to leave Armenia and work in Vienna. Unfortunately, Tumanyan is, in fact, leaving Armenia, to work at the Vienna Conservatory and continue with his concert and recording activity there and across Europe. In Armenia, he sits idle, his concert activity almost exclusively in Europe and elsewhere.
In normal countries, singers like Tumanyan are considered national treasures, and are both taken care of and promoted as the face of a country, while in Armenia who is promoted (and funded) but the comedy and pop stars and serials that National Television and Armenia television flood the waves with every day.