The devilishly handsome and urbane youth, perched on a piano stool, flicked his fingers, gave a toss of his head, and tapped on the keys, playfully at first, teasing a legato performance as a prelude to the appassionato indulgence that transfixed his audience. The young Ohan Dourian, at his impromptu concert, in the "ballroom" of the Jerusalem Armenian Benevolent Union ("JABU"), before an adoring bevy of classmates. The grand piano, neglected for so long, burst into renewed vigor under his titillating fingers, carrying him into dizzying rendition of a Chopin nocturne. Years later, when at the height of his fame as composer and conductor, in Armenia and France, he would recall those halcyon days with a mix of profound nostalgia. He was born in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, in a house adjoining the playground of the St Tarkmanchatz parochial high school. And he received his initiation into the art and mystery of music, at the keyboard of a grand piano that occupied pride of place in a room of its own. A scion of one of the leading kaghakatsi clans of Jerusalem, Ohan grew up in the midst of an extended family that would include the renowned philosopher, Haig Khatchadourian. (For purely practical purposes, Ohan had found it expedient to curtail his surname to Dourian. The world famous Armenian composer, Aram Khatchadourian, who bears the same surname, is not related to Ohan).
Armenian Jerusalem