The city of Education and Culture
Alexandrapol-Leninakan-Gyumri has an educational and cultural rich history. Back in 1840s a spiritual school had been established here, the Arghutyan lady’s collage was opened next to St. Astvatsatsin church, in 1871. Afterwards, until the beginning of the 20th century, the Khrimyan, Sahakanushyan, Evangelistic, Abajyan schools and Olginyan pro gymnasiums were as well established in the city. In 1912, the trade collage was established in Alexandrapol. Even during the Turkish military threats (from 1918 to 1920) could not prohibit the culture to flourishing in the city. By the decision made on December 5th of 1919, the RA council of ministers established the University of Armenia (January 31, 1920).
Educational life reached to its pick of development during the soviet years. The Alexandrapol institute and Agricultural technical schools were opened in 1923, the department of philology in 1924 and a year later the Pedagogical collage. The government was also paying big attention to the extracurricular education. The arts museum was established in 1922, the Pioneers’ palace in 1923, the music studio in 1924, an art studio in 1927 and the first kindergarten in 1931. By 1984, Leninakan had 50 schools and 41 kindergartens. The first higher educational centre was the Pedagogical Institute opened in 1934 that has been named after M. Nalbandyan since 1945. During the next decades the branches of the Yerevan Architectural University (1959) and Economic University (1997) were opened. During the post soviet period, Yerevan art schools such as the Movie and theatre state institute, Music school named after Komitas, the branches of the art institute as well as the “Progress” and “Imastaser An. Shirakatsi” non state universities, highly benefited the creation of educational and cultural environment in Gyumri.
The second city of the RA is known for its scientific potential. Back in the end of the 19th century, one of the world’s universal religious philosophical teachings “The Esoteric Christianity” was established here, by the greatest thinker of all time George Gurdjieff. From June of 1917 till the March of 1918, the “Harmonious Development of Man” universal institute was operating in the city.
Today, the biggest scientific institution that operates in the city is the RA NAC Institute of Geophysics and Engineering seismology institute named after A. Nazarov (1961), which led to the creation of a specialized organization in the RA, in 1976, which was one in its kind in designing and small scale production of specialized experimental construction technological equipments. The youngest and the latest National Academy of Science representative in the city is the Shirak Armenian study research centre (1997).
The city of literature and art
Leninakan-Gyumri is famous for its literature and the artistic traditions. It had its unique role in the formation of the national artistic thinking and enrichment. During different times bards were born here, such as Jivani and Sheram, novelists P. Haykazuni, K. Matinyan and Atrpet, fable writer At. Khnkoyan, writers Av. Isahakyan, H. Kostanyan, G. Afrikyan, Sh. Koorghinyan, H. Shiraz, play writer and poet L. Manvelyan, romance writer S. Ter-Meliqsedrakyan, artist-writer G. Levonyan and others. In 1925, by the initiation of G. Mahari, the first literature organization had been created in Leninakan.
Gyumri has a rich theatre history past. The first play was performed back in 1856 by the Russian army, later on by A. Melik-Haykazyan. The second troupe was created in the city, in 1873. The first opera called “Anush” was performed here, staged by A. Tigranyan. The new turn of the theatrical life in the city is formed after the establishment of the soviet regime in Armenia. The Armenian actors group was created by V. Mirzoyan, in 1912, afterwards opera group in 1924, second state 1928, the Young audience in 1933 and the first puppet theater in Armenia in 1935. In 1965, by the USSR governmental decision, Leninakan theater named after A. Mravyan was awarded with the Labor Red Flag medal. Rich theatre traditions are still prospering in Gyumri.
Alexandrapol-Leninakan-Gyumri has been a city of songs and music. Starting from the middle of the 19th century, most of its bards were quite famous in Caucasus. Jivani, Sheram, Igit, Dvali Mukuch and others composed their works here, during different time periods. The combination of different music traditions at the beginning of the 20th century, led to the creation of a new quality; the birth of the compositional art, which was represented by one of the biggest composers and pianist Nikoghayos Tigranyan. The opera “Anush” composed by Armen Tigranyan, became the new highest point of the Alexandrapol national professional music life. The further development of the compositional art in the city took place during the year of the soviet culture. At the beginning of the 20th century, N. Tigranyan, Gh. Ghazaryan, A. Ter-Ghevondyan, A. Alvazyan, M. Mazmanyan, E. Saharuni, Vl. Balyan and A. Shishyan had composed their works here.
In 1924, N. Tigranyan and D. Ghazaryan, a composer from Shushi, opened a music studio with joint efforts. Starting from 1934, the music collage named after Q. Kara-Murza becomes a center for creating professional musicians in Leninakan. The city has eight music schools. The greatest composer Loris Tchgnavoryan’s incredible pilgrimage helped the city to recover after the 1988 devastating earthquake, and founded the branch of the Yerevan State Conservatory named after Komitas music school, which today, is considered the cradle for the Northern Armenia’s professional musicians. Today, Gyumri is getting ready for a new spiritual flight and the correct organization and the harmonious development of the marvelous traditions of its economic and cultural life are important guarantees in shaping the modern city portrait.
Aleksandrapol was famous for its folk school, the creation of Leninakan's state orchestra of folk instruments in 1986 was a great stimulus in the development of traditions. The orchestra was awarded numerous diplomas, congratulations and laureate titles of festivals ("Partnership" international festival of Azov folk art, "Eghegan pogh" panarmenian festival, caucasian international festival of folk art, etc.). For spreading the armenian art in diaspora, for having a contribution in Armenia-Diaspora partnership, the orchestra was awarded "Komitas" medal of Ministry of Diaspora of RA, "Komitas" medal of Armenia's musical company, Gyumri symbol of Gyumri municipality, as well as diplomas of various departments and structures.
City of humor
Entertainments were very important in Gyumri urban household, which were performed extempore, expressing their attitude towards some phenomenon, as an estimate of strong and weak characters of different people or simply as perception of life and self philosophy. Alekpol-Gyumri-Leninakan with its craftsmen, merchants, rural boasts, unique traditions, households and psychology of dialect, patriotism, love towards their religion, pride, wittiness, humor, with an ability to tease people, with delightful bashes, inclined towards proverbs, distinctive phrases, and swear words were creating the environment of an irreplaceable city, which was giving birth and life to scintillating conversations. For example, Gyumri men proudly mentioned that the water they drunk was “male”. Interesting ideas like this people of Gyumri shared like valuable stones and with endless imagination. Here are some of them: “Cry and happiness are always next to each other like railroads”, “Do all the good you can and make as little fuss about it as possible”, and “They liked the wealth and ignored the values” etc.
Gyumri saga was famous not only locally but also around Armenia, many saying of sagas are included in many composition collections.
One of the most known humorist and saga was Poloz Mukuch /Mkrtich Ghazar Melqonyan/ who like a magnet was attracting to himself many compositions created by people. Here is one of his observations: “If trains would operate with steam, then Gyumri baths would have reached to London by now”.
Poloz Mukuch was close with Tsitron Aleq, Nayl Karo, Sabi Karo. Jgher Khachik and Kuzhik were very famous entertainers in Leninakan.
-Kuzhik can you believe, I am not afraid of dying…
-Then, what are you afraid of?
-I am afraid I won’t look like Gyumri person after I dye…