Hrant Kenkulian

 
Biography

Hrant Kenkulian, now better known as Udi Hrant, was born in 1901 near Istanbul, Turkey. He was declared blind four days after birth and despite frequent treatments his condition did not improve. His family fled to Konya in 1915 to escape the Armenian Genocide, and it was there that Hrant was first introduced to the oud, studying with a teacher named Garabed. In 1918 the family were on the move again and eventually settled in Istanbul, where Hrant continued his musical studies with famous teachers including Kemani Agopos Ayvazyan, Dikran Katsakhian, and Udi Krikor Berberian. As a result of his blindlness it was hard for him to find work, but he made a modest living playing in cafes, giving music lessons and selling instruments. He made his first recording around 1927 and by the 1930s his music had become known internationally. In 1950 a wealthy Greek-American paid for him to travel to the United States in an attempt to restore his eyesight. This sadly proved unsuccessful, but it did lead to Hrant giving a number of concerts in various US cities, performing both Turkish classical music and his own compositions. When he returned to Turkey his fame had spread and he became a frequent performer on Istanbul Radio, first as a solo artist and later as part of a chorus. He performed in many European countries and also made several more trips to the US, where he conducted masterclasses with young Armenian-American oud players including Richard Hagopian. Hrant's last performance was in Istanbul in April 1978, and he passed away shortly afterwards - he and is buried at the Armenian cemetery in Şişli, Istanbul.

 

Selected Recordings

Udi Hrant
(Traditional Crossroads CD 4265)

This is an excellent collection of archive material from Udi Hrant, one of the early masters of the Turkish oud, and consists of a series of improvisations and composed pieces. The quality of the recording is outstanding.

1. Rast Taksimi 3:10
2. Dilerim Sen (Rast Şarkı) 2:56
3. Hicaz Taksimi 3:25
4. Hüseyni Taksimi 2:20
5. Suzinak Saz Semaisi (Kemani Tatyos Efendi) 4:46
6. Hicaz Şarkı, Karşılama 5:27
7. Mahur Saz Semaisi (Kemençeci Nikolaki) 5:19
8. Nihavent Taksimi 4:16
9. Saba Taksimi 4:11
10. Hüzzam Taksimi 7:10
11. Hicaz Saz Semaisi (Yusuf Paşa) 4:06
12. Kürdilihicazkar Peşrevi (Kemani Tatyos Efendi) 3:44
13. Ermeni Dansı 2:56
14. Hüzzam Şarkı/Hoknadz Durtmadz 4:54

 


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