Gomidas, the Armenian composer and ethnomusicologist, was born Soghomon Soghomonian in 1869 in Kuthaia, Ottoman Turkey. He mastered the art of Armenian liturgical singing and conducted research on Armenian folk and sacred music.He spent eleven years in field work throughout the Ottoman empire, visiting many villages listening to native songs and dances,collecting and transcribing Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish dance tunes and folk songs and investigating the Armenian khaz (neumatic) notation system. His main contribution was to rediscover Armenian folk music.
The 1915-1917 Ottoman genocide of the Armenians was the beginning of Komidas' tragic period which was marked by psychic trauma and artistic loss. In April 1915, with other Armenian intellectuals and artists, Komidas was arrested and deported to the interior of the Empire. While Komidas was spared the fate of his friends who were murdered, upon his return to Constantinople he found his life's work - manuscripts, research findings on the khaz notation system and his library - in total disarray. A full accounting of his manuscripts, including his research notes and preliminary findings an the khaz system has so far eluded scholars.
The years following his experience of the Genocide are shrouded in mystery, and the circumstances of Komidas' eventual mental breakdown in 1919 are not fully documented. He moved to Paris where he spent the rest of his life fluctuating between moments of great lucidy and longer stretches of total mental chaos.
After 1919 Komidas produced no music. He died in Paris in 1935.