Reflections Upon Reading Tamar Asadourian


By Lilit Keheyan

Translated from Armenian to English by Ishkhan Jinbashian


Tamar Asadourian (1980-2020) was diversely talented as an accomplished pianist, author and fine artist. At the age of 16 she had a debut recital at Carnegie/Weill Hall and was received by the New York Concert Review in glowing terms. A selection of her poetry (1992-1994) was published in a small edition in Beirut, Lebanon and her paintings and drawings are represented in collections throughout the United States. Soon, a collection of her writings, poetry and prayers, together with some of her fine art, will be published in a volume entitled I Remember You… by the Naregatsi Art Institute of Yerevan, Armenia. Tamar was the granddaughter of author Hagop H. Asadourian.

She was all too young, barely a few months past her 40th birthday, when she hastened to return to her starting point, to mother nature, from which she had borrowed her entire being, her talents as a poet, painter, and musician. She was as connected to nature as the fruit is to its creator, as the infinitesimal is to the infinite. Deeply, from head to toe, she was immersed in the sacred pool of the Muses. It seems that it was precisely in this self-effacing, almost ascetic devotion that her artistic truth rested.

Tamar’s whole life — her childhood memories, teenage dreams, and the enthrallments she found in nature; her relentless suffering; her profoundly tender relationship with her mother, their mutual love and dedication; and her true faith — all this, everything, she had so thoroughly dissolved into her writings that destiny had become one with the lyre.

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Tamar could rightfully say that her biography is found in her works, in her music and paintings, and, particularly, her writings, in which she is completely and utterly present, and outside which, it would seem, she does not hold a single personal secret. Indeed, Tamar is synonymous with her writings, which are complemented by her own drawings.  

Nature’s rays have gleamed in the souls of many a poet, but not all have felt nature as deeply, as sensitively, as Tamar has — since not everyone knows that nature is very much alive; that flowers, too, can weep when they’re in pain and bleeding as you pluck them from the soil; that the many-colored rainbow can sometimes speak of not joy but gloom; and that a storm can in fact be a celebration unleashed by the rain.

In a poem titled “Envision,” Tamar writes: 

I now hear the crying of flowers

That bleed when taken from the ground.

Topics: poetry

Rainbows have sometimes told me

The grayness of their experience.

In another poem, titled “Rain Song,” she writes:

When thunder goes on,

The rain is yet in its party.

Only the poet in whose soul and essence unfold the mysterious workings of nature —which would seem to have been born of human emotional impulses — can be engaged with nature though living exchanges of thoughts and feelings. We might say, therefore, that Tamar was born of nature and assimilated into it. She is a living expression of nature, carrying within her soul the commonality of humankind and the universe. And if we were to underscore the fundamental significance of Tamar’s poetic natural philosophy, we must assert that it concerns the deification of nature, as a perfect manifestation of the unity of the emotional and the intellectual. As for achieving that state of perfection, one must cultivate an intimate understanding of mother nature’s charm and powers of enchantment, its multifarious manifestations and the secrets of their eternality.

No matter how mystical this may sound, the fact remains that the kinship between nature and humankind, and, especially, the spiritual flights born of that kinship, are indivisible. Tamar’s natural philosophy is not limited to her inner vision as a poet, but rather carries within it a living portrait of nature, equally eliciting lushest vistas of esthetic pleasure. It is difficult to determine which is the more pronounced in her works: the thinker? The artistic innovator? Or the author forging poetry of extraordinary beauty and resonance?

Yet, as it often happens with creative individuals, moments of happiness soar like meteors, only to come down and bring back with them ever-newer bouts of pain. As a rule, Tamar’s inner world opens before the reader without any masks, no matter how fraught it might be and what factors might lie behind its anguish. What aching frankness Tamar demonstrates, in reproducing the ever-mutable states of that inner world!

Troubled by woes, in the grips of psychic nightmares, Tamar casts her gaze toward the heavens, toward God, because once the stanchion of hope is lost, the person snarled in the contradictions of life extends her hand toward God, yet keeps her door open… before death — a testament to the fact that Tamar was not afraid of it.

Tamar’s talent as an author, and, specifically, a poet, has also found expression in her spiritual writings, in which she does not seek to prove the existence of God or to try to understand his essence, whether by reason, feeling, or creed. For Tamar, God is an indisputable truth and that’s that, and she does not require any proof for it. Her spiritual writings encompass her ideas about life and death, fall and salvation, and despair and self-motivation, all of which are parsed through the clash of emotions. Standing at the center of it all is Tamar, who asks the Almighty first and foremost to help those who are worse off, those who are more in need, and only then herself.

The devotional love which was born in Tamar through her deep reverence for God is also reflected in her writings dedicated to her mother. Indeed, to Tamar, her mother is a supreme symbol of virtue and kindness.

In a poem titled “A Gift of Love,” Tamar writes:

Your love keeps me warm,

When the sun is at its rest.

Tamar Asadourian was a musical prodigy who kept reaching exceptionally-high levels of achievement throughout her life. Anyone who has heard her piano performances will no doubt agree that music is a language which she mastered completely, and through which she fully expressed herself and captivated her audiences. Whenever Tamar played the piano, she seemed to make the instrument sing. And given her prodigious talent and passion for her art, she has had many successes, performing works by Armenian composers as well as a great diversity of pieces from the global treasury of classical music.

In its review of Tamar’s debut concert at Carnegie Hall, in 1996, when she was only 16 years old, Jed Distler of the New York Concert Review writes, “From the moment this calm, assured pianist entered the stage and unhurriedly took her position at the keyboard, it was perfectly clear who was in charge. Her diction and her harmonic pointing in the Partita’s famous opening bars literally shocked me out of my seat. The rest of the movement was played with a sense of concentration and genuine affinity for both Bach’s dramatic and contrapuntal genius.” In the closing lines of the review, Distler writes, “Tamar Asadourian is more than just a young woman who plays extremely well for her age. She is already an absorbing artist of uncommon sensitivity and intelligence, who is capable of stimulating, original, and often moving performances.”

In our age of incessant technological revolution, including quantum leaps in space exploration, the more the horizons of nature part before us, the more the human imagination faces the mysteries of newly-discovered phenomena. And because the secrets of nature stretch into the boundlessness of the cosmos, the idea of endlessness becomes more and more probable. Ultimately, it is extraordinarily-talented individuals such as Tamar Asadourian — individuals embodying the very spirit of mother nature — who will affirm that probability.

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