Bedros Alahaidoyan Coll. 1 | Ourfa

Harout Bartanian (Chval-Yertanian)

This page presents songs and dance music collected and recorded by musicologist Bedros Alahaidoyan. Beginning in the 1980s, Mr. Alahaidoyan traveled to cities and towns populated by Armenians throughout the Diaspora, in search for Genocide survivors from whom he collected rare songs and anecdotes of their native cities and villages.

Editing of this page, as well as music engraving and digitization, provided by Dzovig Markarian, DMA. Translation: Simon Beugekian.

In the early 1990s, Bedros Alahaidoyan met Harout Bartanian (1934-2015) at the Alahaidoyan residence in Glendale, California. Mr. Bartanian was a vocalist and an oud player from Ourfa.

During this meeting, Mr. Bartanian performed 12 songs that he had learned from his elders, all natives of Ourfa, particularly from his grandmother.

Harout Bartanian (Chval-Yertanian) (Source: Bartanian family collection)

A Short Biography of Harout Bartanian

By Garbis Bartanian

This is the partial biography of our father Haroutioun (Harout) Tchwal Yertanian, or Bartanian, as he came to be known after moving to the US, with his birth on March 6th, 1934.

His parents, Hagop and Mary were both survivors of the Armenian Genocide, originally from Urfa, who had found each other and married after finally settling in Ain El Arab, Syria, after walking through the desert for many days.

Before having Haroutioun (Harout), Mary had given birth to identical twins who unfortunately did not survive. A year later however, his parents trying one more time, were able to conceive once again, whereby Mary gave birth yet to another twin boys, Garo and Harout (who also was nicknamed “Arshag”).

(Interesting note: To tell them apart, his parents decided to pierce Haroutioun’s ear. For years his children used to tease him for it).

Syria, late 1940s. Harout Bartanian, on the right, dressed in black (Source: Bartanian family collection).

Sadly, at the age of 5, Harout lost his father to illness. To support her fledgling family, Mary, who had thus far been a housewife, was forced to seek the livelihood of her family by becoming the breadwinner, as she began doing house chores for an affluent expatriate, a single Frenchwoman, washing her clothes and sweeping floors on her knees. This was witnessed by her children, who saw the difficulty of life and the dedication of their loving mother, from a very young age.

During an interview conducted several years ago by one of his granddaughters, Harout related:

I was eight years old and had a great voice and ever since I was five years old, I would learn songs from my grandmother and sing them. In the backyard we had a fig tree. I would climb that tree and sing on it, the neighbor ladies would listen to me and then they would come to my mom’s house and say, “Mary let your son sing for us.” They would also pay me to sing and I would put a tin can on my head that would cover my eyes and I would sing with the broom in my hands, pretending I was playing the oud. At that time, a twenty five year old Krikor Istambulian was someone who went to church every Sunday, he heard I had a great voice at the age of eight and he would come get me to go to church. My mother would ask him, “where are you taking this child, what does he do at the church?” He would reply “this child’s voice is enough for the church” and that I have a voice that brings sweetness to the church. And with that I would go to the church every Sunday.

Harout Bartanian in the late 1940s (Source: Bartanian family collection).

Garo, Harout’s brother became severely ill. Unfortunately, given the fact that the closest doctor lived a hundred miles away in Aleppo, who would visit their village only once a month and due to the lack of pharmacies, at the age of 11, Garo passed away. This left a lasting impression on Harout throughout his life, having already lost his father 6 years earlier.

Given the lack of financial prospects, Mary decided to move to Aleppo along with her child and her sister’s family.

The discontent witnessed by young Harout, as he saw his mother exhaustively working to make a meager living to support the two of them, was hard for him to bear. Thus, one day as Mary returned from her work, Harout turns to his mother and says: “You will no longer clean floors nor will you wash other people’s clothes any longer. I am the Man of this house, and I will work and support this family.” He was only 12.

True to his word, Harout, at this point goes out and finds himself a job as an apprentice at a barber shop with which he supports his family.

Meanwhile, his passion for music was easily apparent at the age of 8; after all, Mary would constantly hear the neighbors come calling on her to allow her son go to their house to sing for them songs that he had heard from his grandmother. At 12, after moving to Aleppo, Mary hands Harout the only heirloom from his father, his golden watch.

This was the impetus that would steer the next 70 years of his life, for after he received it from his mother, he decided to go to the nearest music shop, where he had noticed a certain item, his other love, the Oud. He had passed by the store every day before and after going to his work at the barber-shop, and had noticed it hanging on the wall. But, now, holding the warm golden watch in his sweaty palm, standing as he did outside the window pane, he finally found himself this time courageous enough to step in, asking the owner how much the instrument cost. It was 12 pounds. He went to the nearest jeweler and sold his father’s gold watch for 12 pounds, and soon enough, the 12-year-old Harout was running excitedly back home to feel the strings of this royal instrument against his timid fingers.

1
2

1) Harout Bartanian, most probably photographed in Lebanon, in the 1960s (Source: Bartanian family collection).
2) Harout Bartanian, photographed while participating the
Studio al-Fan program of the Lebanese public broadcaster (Source: Bartanian family collection).

At 19 years old, Harout was already getting to audition and then hired by the state sponsored Aleppo radio station, singing live alongside famous Arabic classic performers of the day.

At 26, Harout decides to move with his mother and aunt to Beirut, Lebanon to pursue his professional singing career, however, he kept supporting himself and his family as a barber.

Not long after moving, one day, as he was walking to his shop, he noticed in front of him the falling of a tender red rose. He stopped, picked the fragrant rose and looked up, and he saw the rest of his life…in the blue-green eyes of our Sweet mother Hripsimeh Kevorkian. She was smiling…

In 1966, Harout entered a first-time nationally televised contest of Studio el-Fann, which had begun initially with 500 participants competing in categories of music and song, in Arabic. Here, after going through the various stages of selections, Harout found himself moving all the way to the finals, with four other contestants. Being the only Armenian and therefore non-Arab participant, singing while playing the Oud, Harout was able to climb to the top position as he won the First Place in the prestigious show that was televised around the entire Arab-speaking world.

However, here instead of being congratulated by the Armenian community, Harout was called in during the live televised program to speak with the producers of the show, as he was asked whether he truly was Armenian. This, because apparently the television station had received numerous calls from the Armenian community, which in the 1960’s was quite impressive in its representation. The community had questioned the fact that Harout was Armenian to begin with, and demanded an apology for the impersonation of an Armenian by what seemed to be an “Arab artist.” 

Harout Bartanian (Source: Bartanian family collection).

After assuring the station and the program directors that he was in fact 100% Armenian, in order to sort out the confusion once and for all, Harout proposes settling this matter by asking the TV producers if he could sing a song in Armenian, on live national TV at the end of the show. Intrigued by the multi-pronged solution of this suggestion, they agreed. Here, to the amazement of all, Harout selects the aria of Partsur Sarer, for Anoush Opera. The complainant phone calls to the TV stations were no more coming in.

On May 10th, 1992 Harout sat there, surrounded by his loved ones, holding the same tender hand of his beloved Hrip, the same one as he did in 1962. This time, they were smiling…but it was a time of goodbye.

Having lost his Hrip, Harout was showered with love from his children, and soon enough he was gifted with the birth of two more grandchildren, Hripsimeh and Harout.

He was a proud and happy grandfather, and he made sure his grandchildren received the love of their grandmother through him and the loving embraces which he was so generous with in sharing.

Life is impermanent, and all things are conditional.

Photographs from performances by Harout Bartanian in the 1970s and 1980s (Source: Bartanian family collection).

The years had been taking grinding down on him, and in 2013 Harout found himself being treated in the hospital for a pelvic fracture due to a fall on Christmas Eve. However, years of battling diabetes and its bittersweet treatment of insulin had taken their toll on his health, as he passed away on March 10th, 2015.

Along with his four children, Hagop, Mary, Garbis and Kevork, Harout leaves behind him a legacy of music, and especially traditional songs from Urfa that he had learned from his grandmother. This, in addition to the countless people who have come to be touched by and see his humanity, in various aspects of his life and deep sense of generosity and independent spirit.

1- Aman, Es Beshlonts Aghchina (Goodness, It’s the Beshlo Girl)
2- Akh, Mariam (O, Mariam)
3- Aghvor Aghchig Hos Yegour (Come Here, Beautiful Girl)
4- Aghchin Aghkeg Maz Ounis (Girl, You have Beautiful Hair)
5- Antsrev Gouka Lernere (It’s Raining in the Mountains)
6- Egan Danoghnin (They’ve Come to Take [the Bride])
7- Yes G’ertniya Djampakis (I Was Walking Down the Road)
8- Yergou Yazma Madni Mi (Two Veils, One Ring)
9- Mer Harse Kherov, Pesan Bekherov (Our Bride with her Goodness, the Groom with his Mustache)
10- Mshmshi Dzare Chretsi (I Watered the Apricot Tree)
11- Nsder e Horoun Daga (He/She Is Sitting at the Bottom of the Well)
12- Kner e, Krdner e (He/She Slept, He/She Sweated)

1- Aman, Es Beshlonts Aghchina (Goodness, It’s the Beshlo Girl)

Hey, hey, aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Eler a partsr dener a
Ou gelel a ou ge khme
E chser Asdvadz ga vera
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Khler em dzotsin mechina

Oushgi gou kas houshig-moushig
Vodkn e mder varti poushig
Im bzdlig bakn anoushig
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Khler em dzotsoun mechina

Oushgi gou kas very keoshken
Kemera engere meshken
Veran egha enkir achken
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Khler em dzotsoun mechina

Oushgi gou kas veri dana
Asdvadz kezi tor mi pana
Bachig me dour hara fana
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Khler em dzotsoun mechina

Oushgi gou kas veri ekoun
Khafokhe ge tapi kokoun
Bachig me dour babout hokoun
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Khler em dzotsoun mechina

Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Eler a partsr gener a
Ge pere basma degher a
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Khler em dzotsoun mechina

Eghsan nsder lvatsk gene
Shmrig mazere tats gene
Khakhoun dghin khelats gene
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Aman es Beshlonts aghchina
Khler em dzotsoun mechina

Women from Ourfa and the surrounding area in their traditional dress (Source: Album de la Mission de Mésopotamie et d'Arménie confiée aux Frères-Mineurs Capucins de la Province de Lyon, 1904. Photographer: Father Raphael).

2- Akh, Mariam (O, Mariam)

Akh, Mariam, Mariam, Mariam
Yes kezi g’arnam g’arnam
Yes kezi g’arnam g’arnam

Eger babit chi dar se
Gatolig g’ellam g’arnam
Kordisdan kennam g’arnam

Mariamin eres partsa
Veren takkala tartsa
Veren takkala tartsa

Ouzetsi bak mi arnam
Chtoghouts hasoud kora
Chtoghouts hasoud gora

Akh, Mariam, Mariam, Mariam
Yes kezi g’arnam g’arnam
Yes kezi g’arnam g’arnam

Eger babit che dar se
Gatolig g’ellam g’arnam
Kordisdan kennam g’arnam

Ourfa, the famous musical ensemble of Garabed and Djrdjo. From left to right – Garabed (on the keman), Haroutyun (on the qanun), vocalists Asori Djrdjo and Djure Maho, Mrdjo (on the def), and Khacho (on the debelek) (Source: Aram Sahagian, Heroic Ourfa and Her Armenian Offspring, Beirut, Ourfa Compatriotic Union, 1955).

3- Aghvor Aghchig Hos Yegour (Come Here, Beautiful Girl)

Aghvor aghchig hos yegour
Endzi meg bachig me dour
Asdvadz sires mi merjer
Ourishneroun chem eser

Kna manchoug sevoulig
Achougnert aghvorig
Inch bardk ounim yes kezi
Ays pan chi vayler indzi

Chi vaylelik inch ga vor
Sirds kashets kani vor
Yegour indzme mi pakhchir
Adou mi ellar antatar

Aghvor aghchig toure pats
Tashginags ners mnats
Amenoun hampouyr dvir
Im hampouyrs our mnats

Che che sirds pari e
Bidi dam kezi ange
Vor ge vakhnam mez desnen
Verche mez ge pampasen

Pampaselik inch ga vor
Sirds kashets kani vor
Yegour indzme mi pakhchir
Adou mi ellar antatar

Women from Ourfa and the surrounding area in their traditional dress (Source: Album de la Mission de Mésopotamie et d'Arménie confiée aux Frères-Mineurs Capucins de la Province de Lyon, 1904. Photographer: Father Raphael).

4- Aghchin Aghkeg Maz Ounis (Girl, You have Beautiful Hair)

Aghchin aghkeg maz ounis
Plpouli peran ounis
Vosgi djoughab ches dar a
Es inch cheshig naz ounis

Lousingan gab polorets
Sev ambin mech molorets
Yaris ghourbet ertala
Yote darin polorets

Residents of Ourfa in their traditional dress (Source: Aram Sahagian, Heroic Ourfa and Her Armenian Offspring, Beirut: Ourfa Compatriotic Union, 1955).

5- Antsrev Gouka Lernere (It Is Raining in the Mountains)

Antsrev gou ka lernere
Ellenk tarnank mer dera
Ed morit echvin gourna
Indzig hanets lernere

Leri djampan karod e
Yaris hedis kenod e
Barishelou midk chouni
Sirds yaris garod e

Antsrev gou ka lernere
Ellenk tarnank mer dera
Ed morit echvin gourna
Indzig hanets lernere

The students and faculty of the Franciscan School of Ourfa. The students are photographed in traditional dress (Source: Aram Sahagian, Heroic Ourfa and Her Armenian Offspring, Beirut: Ourfa Compatriotic Union, 1955).

6- Egan Danoghnin (They’ve Come to Take [the Bride])

Egan danoghnin
Charchar kroghnin
Momer varoghnin
Hoki hanoghnin

Inch agheg hars a
Chousd gdridj pesa
Harsn al pesayin
Hokin e ges a

Haker a atlas
Vodkernin khelkhal
Aghkeg aghchignis
Kach pesa halal

Inch agheg hars a
Chousd gdridj pesa
Harsn al pesayin
Hokin e ges a

Klkhoun goghk genech
Viza vosgoum khech
Gokhadz deghere
Pousni vart gegech

Inch agheg hars a
Chousd gdridj pesa
Harsn al pesayin
Hokin e ges a

Perek def saz a
Gisetsek maza
Aghkeg aghchigin
Kashetsek naza

Inch agheg hars a
Chousd gdridj pesa
Harsn al pesayin
Hokin e ges a

Vartskernit gadar
Aner zonkench mayr
Azk ou azkagan
Kerva gnkamayr

Inch agheg hars a
Chousd gdridj pesa
Harsn al pesayin
Hokin e ges a

View of Ourfa. The photograph was taken from the highest of the forts surrounding the city (Source: Hugo Grothe, Geographische Charakterbilder, Leipzig, 1909)

7- Yes G’ertniya Djampakis (I Was Walking Down the Road)

Yes g’ertniya djampakis
Aghchi mi tbbav tevis
Yes im teves vaz antsa
Togh ka mdne im dzotsis

Lousingan gamar gamar
Yes gou lam kezi hamar
Eresit endzi tartsour
Asdoudzou siroun hamar

Yes g’ertniya djampakis
Aghchi mi tbbav tevis
Yes im teves vaz antsa
Togh ka mdne im dzotsis

A local musical band in Ourfa (Source: Aram Sahagian, Heroic Ourfa and Her Armenian Offspring, Beirut: Ourfa Compatriotic Union, 1955).

8- Ergou Yazma Madni Mi (Two Veils, One Ring)

Ergou yazma madni mi
Katsink perink harsnoug mi
Chapoute deosheg tepe parts
Harse g’ouze meghr ou hats
Chapoute deosheg tepe parts
Harse g’ouze tahinov hats

Kat mi degher oran mi
Aman bibi doun ga mi
Yes ghourbeta g’ertam a
Gnigis biyogh knnatsni

Ergou yazma madni mi
Katsink perink harsnoug mi
Chapoute deosheg tepe parts
Harse g’ouze meghr ou hats
Chapoute deosheg tepe parts
Harse g’ouze tahinov hats

Tahinov hats (Bread with tahini)

9- Mer Harsa Kherov, Pesan Bekherov (Our Bride with her Goodness, the Groom with his Mustache)

Mer harsa kherov, pesan bekherov
Atlas degherov genech ogherov
Haker e atlas brgttin kiraz
Garkvil ouzoghin Asdvadz da mouraz

Tserka vodka hanna ouzelov g’erta
Gdridj pesayin pakhdi tor pana
Haker e atlas brgntin kiraz
Garkvil ouzoghin Asdvadz da mouraz

Aghbena cheghoghin knnamish enoghin
Asdvadz mouraza da garkvil ouzoghin
Haker e atlas brgntin kiraz
Garkvil ouzoghin Asdvadz da mouraz

Harsnika harsin halal kach pesin
Halal e halal harse ir pesin
Haker e atlas brgntin kiraz
Garkvil ouzoghin Asdvadz da mouraz

Ourfa, 1900. The wedding photograph of Armenag Attarian. We were unable to identify the other individuals in the photograph (Source: Aram Sahagian, Heroic Ourfa and Her Armenian Offspring, Beirut, Ourfa Compatriotic Union, 1955).

10- Mshmshi Dzare Chretsi (I Watered the Apricot Tree)

Mshmshi dzare chretsi
Palan dage pretsi
Elin alamin tema
Yes in yares siretsi

Gharib em yega tsezi
Gharib mi esek indzi
Gharibe hoki m’ouni
Ghourban togh ennam kezi

Ourfa, circa 1919-1920. The area around the Father Abraham Pond (Source: photograph by Father Gabriel Bretocq, Archives départementales de l’Eure. Fonds Gabriel Bretocq).

11- Nsder e Horoun Daga (He/She Is Sitting at the Bottom of the Well)

Nserd e horoun daga
Ge pella madnoun aga
Eshkove kov ge ganche
Atlas degheroun daga

Halal e indzi halal
Yaris hed bargim halal
Atame khapvetsav
Takhdin bdghin hamar

Toutou basdegha gerav
Lousingan mera mdav
Elin aghchina indzi yar
Chlbkhtsav dzotsis mdav

Hahal e indzi halal
Yaris hed bargim halal
Atame khapvetsav
Trakhdi bdghin hamar

Ourfa, preparing food (Source: Der Christliche Orient, Potsdam, 13. Jahrgang, 1912, Juli, Heft 7).

12- Kner e, Krdner e (He/She Slept, He/She Sweated)

Knner e, krdner e
Baker e garmrer e
Paghn inch e paghchen inch e
Aghchig kou djilvet inch e

Paghchen tri yes mamoun
Ego yertank yes ou toun
Merout khoskin mi heynar
Irar arnank yes ou toun

Knner e, krdner e
Baker e garmrer e
Paghn inch e paghchen inch e
Aghchig kou djilvet inch e