In Memory: Maestro Joseph Ichkhanian (1931-2016)Monday, May 16th, 2016
Canadian Musician‘s annual Guitar Feature is out now in the May/June 2016 issue. Regular contributor Levon Ichkhanian wrote the story, and it is dedicated to the memory of his uncle, Maestro Joseph Ichkhanian, who passed away on March 29, 2016.
A Lebanese citizen and of Armenian descent, he began playing the guitar in 1949 with Professor Vruyr Mazmanian and was subsequently offered a scholarship by the Spanish government. He continued his artistic education and music from 1959 to 1962 at the Royal Academy of Music of Madrid.
He was privileged to have worked with masters of the classical guitar, including: Regino Sainz de la Maza, who was his professor at the Conservatory of Madrid; Andres Segovia, who taught international music courses at Saint Jacques de Compostela in Spain; and Narciso Yepes, who named Ichkhanian as his most distinguished disciple.
His guitar studies were crowned by the Higher Diploma, awarded in 1962 by the Royal Conservatory of Madrid. Subsequently, he attended classes with Interpretive Master Alexander Lagoya at the International Academy of Nice, and took music lessons at the Chigiana Academy of Siena in Italy.
Returning to Lebanon in 1963, Maestro Ichkhanian began his career in the Hispanic Cultural Centre, and later the Musical Youth of Lebanon. Thanks largely to his efforts, in 1970, a guitar course was introduced in the official program of the National Conservatory of Music of Lebanon.
There, he tought thousands of students, including 20 guitar teachers currently teaching at the Conservatory. Mr. Jad Hidari was his first graduate student and also the first professor to be able to deliver qualifications in turn to other students. With him, he introduced the lute at the Conservatory and also founded the Lebanese Association of Friends of the Guitar.
Maestro Ichkhanian continued performing for over 40 years as a very active soloist and recitalist, both on local and international scenes including Spain, Ireland (where he was invited to participate in the Guitar Dublin Festival), in Tunisia, and throughout the Middle East, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Armenia, etc. Moreover, anxious to share his passion for Spanish culture, he brought many guitar virtuosos to Lebanon for the benefit of the public.
The composer of many musical works, Mr. Ichkhanian was also the author of several books, including an Arabic dictionary of musical terms, the first of its kind in the Arab world, in collaboration with Mr. Ghassan Khalil.
He also published a method of modern guitar – the first bilingual method published in French and Arabic which has been officially adopted exclusively for teaching guitar at the National Conservatory of Music of Lebanon and used in various schools in Lebanon and the Middle East.
In 2003, the Ministry of Education of Spain awarded Maestro Ichkhanian the Medal of the Order of Civil Merit and, in 2011, the Cross of the Official Order of Isabel la Catolica in appreciation for services rendered to Spain abroad.