Children of Western Armenia: Hrant Kenkulian 

  • by Western Armenia, April 17, 2023 in Society

Hrant Kenkulian, better known as Udi Hrant, was a virtuoso oud player. His modern interpretations and performance style have left a lasting impact on subsequent generations of Udahars.

Kenkulian was born in 1901.

In the early years of his life, he and his family often moved from one place to another, trying to avoid Armenian pogroms. Eventually, the family took refuge in Istanbul, where his teacher became one of the most prominent Armenian oud players of the time.

While he earned a living playing in Constantinople, he did not gain real recognition until after a trip to the United States, after which his fame grew. In Constantinople, his name was well known to lovers of national music. He sang in both Armenian and Turkish and had a large audience among the Armenian, Turkish and Greek speaking communities. Needless to say, it was a special exception for an Armenian musician to enjoy such popularity with the Turkish authorities, especially when the majority of Armenians subject to Turkey were exterminated in their homeland not so long ago.

He continued to perform in local and international arenas, he also visited Eastern Armenia in his old age. Hrant Kenkulian died in 1978. His remains are buried in the historic Armenian cemetery in Sisli, Constantinople.