ANKARA: Musicologist Says ‘There Is No Place For Hate’


Feb 15 2010

Leo Sarkisian, the first ethnomusicologist in the United States and
legendary music specialist for the Voice of America, makes a call
for peace, saying ‘There is no place for hate’

Life goes on for the average person regardless of how the political
debates and relations proceed between Turkey and Armenia.

Turkish and Armenian people who abstain from politics and look to the
future without denying their past often like listening to same kinds
of music and eating the same kinds of food. Despite all the past
experiences, often identities become meaningless. In the remotest
part of the world, a Turk, a Greek and an Armenian could become best
friends and even share feelings of nostalgia and homesickness.

One of these people is 88-year-old Leo Sarkisian, whose roots go
back to Anatolia. Leo Sarkisian bears the name of America’s first
ethnomusicologist thanks to his work on ethnic music. He spent 45
years at the Voice of America, the official radio station of the
United States, and a music library was founded in his name. He is
also an admirer of Turkish Classical Music. Sarkisian is well-known
for his research on Ottoman music as well. In the past, he has shared
his research with the Center for Advanced Research in Music, or MIAM,
at Istanbul Technical University.

‘Political debates get you nowhere’

"I strongly believe, and my close Turkish friends know that, there
is no place for hate," Sarkisian said. He follows the Turkish press
and developments about Turkey from day to day despite his old age,
but he thinks political debates gets people nowhere.

He has traveled around the world for his music research, but he had
his most interesting experience in Afghanistan. Turkish diplomats
in Afghanistan brought together Sarkisian and Turks serving as peace
forces in the country. He sang Anatolian folk songs with the soldiers
all together without arguing about "you and I" matters. "History
cannot be wiped out, but changes will take place. My travels to so
many countries around the world, meeting so many different people of
different religions, beliefs and cultures have also changed me and
given me a new perspective in the direction of our lives," he said.


Leo Sarkisian was offered the job of music director at a company called
Tempo, which was linked to Hollywood, when he was just 32 years old
in 1953. He immediately accepted the offer and started working. He
then received an education as a sound recording engineer and was sent
to the Middle East and Caucasus for 3.5 years for music research.

Thanks to his research, he assumed the title of the United States’
first ethnomusicologist. When he returned to America, he started to
prepare programs for Voice of America, where he worked for 45 years. A
music library was founded in his name.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS