Barsegh Kanachyan

Parsegh Ganatchian (in Armenian Բարսեղ Կանաչեան, pronounced Barsegh Kanachyan in Eastern Armenian) (born in Tekirdağ, Ottoman Empire, April 17, 1885 – died in Beirut, Lebanon, May 21, 1967) was a Lebanese-Armenian composer and conductor. He most notably arranged the music to "Mer Hayrenik", the Armenian national anthem, as well as to a famous traditional Armenian lullaby "Oror Im Palas" (in Armenian Օրօր Իմ Բալաս). He is founder and director/conductor of "Knar" wind orchestra and the "Gusan" (in Western Armenian "Kousan") choirs in Istanbul and the similarly named "Gusan" choir (1933 -1961) in Beirut. He was awarded with the National Order of the Cedar, a high Lebanese presidential award for promoting friendship between the Armenian and Lebanese peoples.

Barsegh Kanachyan
Born(1885-04-17)April 17, 1885
Rodosto (present-day Tekirdağ), Ottoman Empire
DiedMay 21, 1967(1967-05-21) (aged 82)
OccupationComposer and conductor
Known forArranger of the music to "Mer Hayrenik", the Armenian national anthem


Ganatchian was born in Rodosto (present-day Tekirdağ), in the Ottoman Empire. In 1888 his family moved to Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), where he received his primary education. Afterwards, the family moved to Varna, where he studied music theory, playing the violin and conducting lessons under the supervision of Natanbeg Amirkhanyan. In 1903, Ganatchian studied playing the piano and harmony in Bucharest, returning to Istanbul in 1908, where he formed the "Knar" wind orchestra (in Armenian «Քնար»). His meeting with Komitas Vardapet in December 1910 was decisive in his career. Ganatchian also established in Turkey the "Gusan" choir (in Armenian «Գուսան»). He also continued his education in harmony and conducting.

In 1919, he conducted a concert dedicated to Komitas and his works with 300 singers and musicians. Starting in 1920, Ganatchian continued his musical education in Paris, France, and from 1922 worked in conducting in various Armenian diaspora venues.

In 1928, he moved to Nicosia, Cyprus, where he taught music at the prestigious Melkonian Educational Institute and from 1933 at Neshan Palandjian College (Djemaran) in Beirut, Lebanon. In 1936, he established the "Gusan" (in Armenian «Գուսան», in Western Armenian Kousan) choir, which he directed and conducted personally. The activities of the choir continued until 1961 under his direction in Beirut, Lebanon. Its first concert was in the American University of Beirut Memorial Hall, where 70 male and female singers took part. "Gusan" has had recitals in many venues in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt and its repertoire also included in addition to Armenian national, folkloric and spiritual songs, songs occasionally in other languages including Arabic, Kurdish etc. In 1936, a music association named «Գուսան երաժշտասիրաց միութիւն» was also formed for encouraging the project and developing love of music and its propagation amongst the Armenians.

The Lebanese government awarded him the National Order of the Cedar for promoting friendship between the Armenian and Lebanese peoples.

Ganatchian died May 21, 1967, in Beirut, Lebanon. The Armenian cultural association Hamazkayin established an arts institute carrying his name in Lebanon.