Music is an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color… And it has always played an important role in the Vafiadis Family. Not only by listening, but by playing instruments and giving concerts from time to time. Here in this article we would like to share the life and experience of Vafiadis Family with music and also remember the music masters like Arpine Herliyan and Noemi Merdinyan who taught us how to play…
Music plays an important role in most peoples life. Sometimes it's like a soundtrack playing in the background, while working, walking, exercising, meeting friends ... etc. But in our family it had a special role. We didn’t listen only, but wanted to play it also. Most of ancestors had an instrument which they played amateurish, but some of them were professional. By time, playing an instrument became something like a tradition in family, and each generation interested in music.
Mıgırdic, Brother of Ashen
As we know from the memories of Vafiadis Family, the brother of Ashen, Mıgırdic, was a professional violinist. He was played in concerts in Istanbul also in Paris and he gave music lessons to many people that some of them became well-known artists (Coskun Sabah*) by time. The grandson of Ashen, Stavros Vafiadis, had an interest on music as he grew up together with Mıgırdic. In 1963, when he was 6 years old, the family decided to buy a piano for Stavros and of course piano lessons for him.
Here on this photograph, you see Stavros Vafiadis together with music master Noemi Merdinyan while playing piano. Noemi Merdinyan was an Armenian music master who lived in Istanbul and she was the first piano teacher of Stavros. She came to the house of Vafiadis Family in Sarıyer, and they had the lessons here. Unfortunately we have very less infomation about Noemi Merdinyan, but we are still searching for her name on ephemeras, books and newspapers. The piano that Stavros plays in this photo was a French one, and it was for starters.
Stavros Vafiadis together with Noemi Merdinyan
In 1969, the French piano was not enough for Stavros and they decided to buy a new one. After they sold the previous one, they bought a second-hand F.Menzel S.59 brand piano. The mechanism and the label of this piano is as below. Also inside the piano there is a stamp of the company that made maintenance in 1970. It writes on stamp, the name of company, owner and the address: 'AR PIYANO EVI, STAVRO ANDRIOGLU, Beyoglu Mis sokak içinde Hüseyinaga Sokagi No.7'
The serial number of this piano is 8455, but unfortunately we don't know the exact production date. The brand is also confusing as there is another one named, Wilhelm Menzel. But all we know that this piano is over 100 years old as once a piano tuner gentleman told so.
Details of Menzel Piano
During his boyhood, Stavros played the piano daily at home in Sarıyer. One day, one of their neighbours who worked in TRT ( Turkish Radio Television ) heard the piano sounds and asked Stavros if he would like to play in a big choir of a radio program. Stavros was so excited with this offer and he accepted. He passed the entrance examination and became the pianist of TRT Children's Radio Program. Nearly for 10 years he played here. You can see this choir with Stavros on the photo below which has been published on newspaper.
TRT Children's Radio - One Studio Eighty Children
After the tragic death of Noemi Merdinyan ( died in a traffic accident ) in Pangaltı ( İstanbul ), Stavros continued with a new music master, Arpine Herliyan. Arpine Herliyan was a well-known artist in art community. She was not only a musician, but also a poet and paintress. She was born in 1913, and spent her life for art and literature. She was trained by pianist Prof. Stepan Papelyan and she trained many musicians.
Let us share with you the information about Arpine Herliyan which has been published on a book that we found in Şişli Armenian Cemetary.
Arpine Herliyan, a pianist and miniature artist, is the grandson of the late priest and author Zarmayr Gözüryan. She devoted her life to art and literature, took private piano lessons from Prof. Stepan Papelyan, later worked as music master and trained many talented young musicians.
The works of Arpine Herliyan, who is also a highly acclaimed and appreciated miniature artist, have been exhibited many times on various dates and won the admiration of the public, and she has long been mentioned from the local and foreign press.
This precious artist has served for a while in the Armenian press, and has attracted everyone's attention with her meticulous attention to language.
Here below you can see a newspaper article about Arpine which has been published on Milliyet 25.04.1966.
Arpine Herliyan on Milliyet 1966
Arpine Herliyan was living in Tarlabaşı and Stavros visited her once in a week for piano lessons. With the help of Arpine, Stavros had the chance to play in the concert of Getronagan High School in 1970s. You can see the brochure of this concert in our 'Family Relics: Gallery' also you can listen the concert setlist on Spotify.
In 1978, Stavros Vafiadis went to Erzurum for his military service and here he served as a pianist in Erzurum 9th Army Corps Officers Club, for 19 months. As we've also told in 'The Vafiadis: We Were Soldiers', he had to struggle with many difficulties with the piano he had to play there. He adapted most of the partitions of Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven to 5 octaves. Here below, you see pages from the notebook of Stavros which he created during his military service.
From the Notebook of Stavros Vafiadis - 1970s
The passion for music in family didn't finish with Stavros. Actually his father and siblings are also talented in music, especially in Byzantine Orthodox Church Chants. Grigoris Daravanoglou is a music master in Greece and he is well-known in his branch.
World is changing, time is changing, music is changing... Let me tell you my experience with music, so you will also understand that this passion in the family continued for generations. I was born in a house with a classic piano. My father Stavros always played classics when i was a child. But time was different, i grew up with Michael Jackson, Madonna and many other popular stars of 80s and 90s. In the end of 90s i started to listen Rock music and this evolved to types of Metal music by time. Because of that i had a deep interest on guitars, when i finished high school, my family bought me a left-handed black Washburn electo-guitar and i went to the course of Ramiz Ekinci in Taksim. Those years (2001-2008), most of the students in universities had their own rock bands, and the famous İstiklal Street and Kadıköy were full of studios and with youth walking with their guitars and drumsticks.
I also played in two bands ' The Cash' and 'Fuji' as a guitarist. Together with Fuji we had bar programs and we played in many festivals. Here below i would like to share with you a small flier of Fuji which prepared by the event organizer and few photos from the concerts. Maybe oneday the next generation of our family will tell you my memories from those band days, as i tell you the memories of my ancestors.
Dimitri Vafiadis in Fuji & The Cash - Flyer ( Fuji before Siya Siya Bend )
Hope that this passion of music will transfer to the next generations in our family...
Written by: 2mi3, April 2020
* Coskun Sabah mentioned Mıgirdic as 'Mösyö Mıgirdic' in the book about his memories. (Edited in 2022)
** You can watch the video of this article on Youtube.
Related Links & Books:
6-) Coskun Sabah Anılar, Didem Abidin - Selahaddin Abidin, Mona Kitap, 2021