16-12-2014
“A story from my wild and crazy years…”
Interview with Sasun Paskevichyan.

Eritasard.am’s correspondent sat down for an interview with People’s Artist of the Republic of Armenia, composer, journalist, poet Sasun Paskevichyan and talked about the wild and crazy things he did in his younger years, as well as his past, love, art and happiness… And so, here is a look at how Sasun Paskevichyan, 75, spent his younger years… Eritasard.am: Mr. Paskevichyan, what do the younger years mean to you? How should one spend his younger years? Sasun Paskevichyan: Unfortunately, most people refer to their younger years when they’re already gone, for the most part…If we compare a person’s life to a tall building, then the younger years of a person are the foundation of a building on which the building must be built. If the foundation is not laid the right way, there will be complications in the future…I hope readers perceive this correctly…As for the youth…One has to live THE RIGHT WAY…You only live once. You have a unique opportunity, and if you miss that opportunity, you might regret it later on…Reasonable young people strive to become friends and establish close ties with older and more experienced people. It’s much better to learn from others’ mistakes than yours. There are mistakes that you can never fix, but you can prevent some of them by taking advice from smart and experienced people and learning from their experiences…Some people compare youth to a sponge that absorbs everything without differentiating between good and bad, right and wrong…Here is where taking advice from experienced people plays an important role… Eritasard.am: What was Sasun Paskevichyan like in his younger years? S. P.: My family provided me with the right upbringing. I graduated from school with honors and got accepted to the Faculty of Construction at Yerevan Polytechnic Institute…I was extremely independent, in a good sense…You could say I had a very high “risk percentage”. If the probability of me achieving my goal was 5-10%, I would take the risk and not miss the opportunity…But there is also the phrase “calculated risk”…You can’t risk everything, but it’s very important for you to believe in yourself…When I grew older and read the Testament, I understood what Jesus Christ meant when he told one of his apostles, Peter the following: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Eritasard.am: If you had a chance, what would you change in your past? S. P.: I don’t agree with talking about the past with “if”s…The past is history, and it’s impossible to change it, especially when you have already “crossed the Rubicon…” Everyone makes mistakes, and you shouldn’t turn everything into a tragedy. As some people say, in some cases you can even benefit from the damage that has been caused. I have studied the Bible to quite an extent, especially the Testament (I consider myself a conscious believer)…I ascribe many things that have happened to me to God’s providence (“Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven”). You should also understand this in another way, meaning if God has given a person brains, then He has already done that person a favor…So, “use your brain”, think, weigh it out, calculate (including the risk percentages), don’t lose faith, go after your goals and fight for happiness…Anyway, I wouldn’t change anything in my past…I have been honest. I have lived and have been guided by the principles of Christianity…I owe everything that has happened to me to God… Eritasard.am: Do you consider yourself a happy person? S. P.: Happiness is a very relative concept…By saying “happiness”, I understand peace of mind. On the one hand, happiness is incomplete, especially, as the exceptional Ruben Hakhverdyan says in one of his songs, “Yerjankutyun, Antsir Koghkovs, Du Haratev Ches” (“Happiness, pass by me, you are not everlasting”). On the other hand, it depends on how a person understands happiness, or what happiness means to a person. For me, my greatest happiness are my children, their health, their happiness, my family and friends, my nation, my homeland and many other things… Eritasard.am: What is your guiding principle in life? S. P.: As I mentioned, the principles of Christianity. Morality and spirituality are extremely important for me…For me, the ultimate is God above, and on Earth-my dignity, and I place my homeland above dignity…However, there are four pillars: national belonging, self-pride and personal and national pride, human dignity and national dignity and national ideology…I consider myself a conscious nationalist…Out of all the great Armenians, I set aside Nzhdeh and Paruyr Sevak, but of course, there are many others… Eritasard.am: What should an artist/art critic be like? S. P.: First and foremost, an artist or art critic should be moral, honest and sincere… The term “artist” is extremely exploited…Everyone considers himself an artist. The word “artist” or “art critic” means “a person who has knowledge of the arts”. For instance, I don’t consider myself an artist, but a fan of arts. To be an artist, you need to have a lot of knowledge…I don’t even consider myself a composer, but a songwriter. First, in order to be a composer, you have to receive a special education, and not every composer can write a song (I know many people who don’t know a lot about poetry). Songwriting is a purely God-given talent…I didn’t receive a musical education. I can’t even read musical notation. I’ll let you in on a “secret”…In my prime, I tried to learn how to read musical notation four times, but I always came to the point where the knowledge that I had gained was disturbing me and wasn’t letting me write songs…Nevertheless, even though it came as a surprise for many composers, I was recently granted the title of People’s Artist of the Republic of Armenia for the songs that I have written…So, my creations, my songs represent a spiritual value and the value of the nation, and I take pride in that… Eritasard.am: What interesting events do you remember from your younger years? S. P.: There is so much to say that several interviews won’t be enough. Besides, I’m young and even a child in terms of my essence and thinking. But seriously, I try to deal with a child or a young person like a child or a young person, and I deal with an adult as an adult…I’m “compelled” to mention that I recently turned 75 years old…Nevertheless, I won’t turn you down and will share a story from my “wild and crazy” years. I was 24 years old. At the invitation of my Jewish friend (he and I worked for a construction firm in Syzran city of Kuybyshev region where I had been sent to work after graduating from the Institute), I traveled to the Chernovtsy city of Ukraine where my friend was living with his parents. After staying with him for a couple of days, I went to the airport return to Yerevan. My flight was in two hours. While I was waiting at the airport, I suddenly noticed a beautiful woman…We introduced each other…She was going to fly somewhere else (Kaunas, the Baltic states) in half an hour. She invited me to visit her city…Half an hour later, she and I sat on the same plane and flew to Kaunas…I don’t regret it. I did the right thing, and it’s a good thing I did it…After 15 years, that incident served as a basis for me to write the lyrics to one of my songs, after which I composed the music for it. The song is called “Galis Em, Ser Im”…(I’m Coming, My Love…) Eritasard.am: You’re a journalist, songwriter and poet. Which profession is closer to your heart? S. P.: As I said, I’m a songwriter, and writing songs is the closest to my heart. At the same time, this might sound strange, but I must say that I’m a poet and a journalist, and even my major profession, construction engineering, helps me and, to a certain extent, it helps me write songs… Eritasard.am: How do your songs and poems “come to life”? S. P.: You’re right when you used the phrase “come to life”…Yes, they come to life…For a creator his works are like his babies. In songs and poems (as well as in other fields of art), the important thing is to get the message across… If there is a message, the creator has to get it across, meaning, he has to help it “come to life”…That’s like his healthy child… If there is no message, it’s not a creation, and even if it’s a child, I would say it’s a sick child with defects and sometimes, forgive me, a bastard, stolen from here and there, “baked”, an imitation…It gets worse when creators adopt the “child” of a foreigner. As if that wasn’t enough, they present it as Armenian…What can I say…There are many creators like that. The people to blame are our artists and intellectuals (including me) who don’t lead a coordinated struggle to preserve national culture and, most importantly, develop culture…Getting back to the creation of songs and poems, they are the driving force, or as it is accepted, the Muse. My firm conviction is that that Muse is the spirit… Eritasard.am: In what state of mind were you when you wrote, for example, the song “Du Heratsar” (You Went Away)? S. P.: I don’t write songs, but create and invent them…Writing, creating and inventing are different things…Unfortunately, many people write (this is a different story)…Sevak compares the creation of a poem with the birth of stars that form from nebulae. It’s the same with the creation of a song. All my songs based on lyrics are moments and episodes that I have experienced. The answer to your question lies in the lyrics to the song “Du Heratsar”… I tried to make the music go with the lyrics…I’m happy to see that after four and a half decades, the new generation continues to sing the song, as well as several other songs of mine… Eritasard.am: You studied in the Faculty of Construction at Yerevan Polytechnic Institute. What do you think is the relationship between art and construction? S. P.: I graduated from the Department of Automobile Roads and Bridges and was qualified as a Construction Engineer for Communication Roads. Designing and building roads and bridges also require serious efforts. It includes examining and studying the location, sometimes designing several versions, calculating, etc. The same thing often happens in composing music because the music of the song must fall in line with the lyrics, especially when the song is based on a poem by a great Armenian poet. Turning those poems into songs is the same as building roads or bridges… Eritasard.am: What is your advice to Armenian youth? S. P.: I already said a lot during this interview…Perhaps I might add Churchill’s famous words: “Never give up…” Hrachuhi Almastyan