They are a living witness of this great musician’s life and work. They contribute to our understanding of the immense range of his activity and give us an insight to his thought. They also reveal the cultural and social reality of his times.

Komitas maintained a vigorous correspondence with many Armenian intellectuals and churchmen. Sometimes he appears a pessimist, sometimes an optimist but always objective and honest. His letters give us an opportunity to grasp a better view of this brilliant musician who possessed remarkable features of charm, modesty, perspective mind, and original wit.


To Hovhannes Toumanian
8 June 1908, Saint Etchmiadzin
[A great poet and public figure (1869-1923), author of the epic poem ‘Anoush’ referred to in the letter]

Dear Hovhannes,

You didn’t get to Etchmiadzin then. Perhaps the mosquitoes frightened you. What’s this mosquito thing anyway that man should fear it? I could have offered you such accommodation that no mosquito, not even the mosquito’s brother and its offspring could penetrate.

I haven’t much news. If you want to come to Dilijan, you are welcome. Don’t worry about the piano. The main purpose of your visit, and mine, has to do with words – to complete the poem with its characters and its songs, in a word to write the libretto. As for the other things, the music, I shall attend to that in Etchmiadzin, where in my rooms I have all the necessary facilities.

I shall tell you about my detailed plans when we meet. To explain oneself about music in written communication is difficult.

At the moment I too am busy. Until the end of the month I have some urgent deadlines to meet for various European newspapers, thereafter I am relatively free. I have decided to spend the summer in Etchmiadzin, but for some 10 days or until we complete ‘Anoush’ I shall come to Dilijan.

Pass on special greetings to Princess Toumanian.

And to you, your wife and your little children, in one large measure, my loving regards.

With kisses, yours Komitas

To Nikoghayos Tigranian
[Armenian composer, author of piano dances]
22 January, INSERT YEAR, Saint Etchmiadzin

This summer I intend to tour the villages and for the last time revise the tunes to the folk songs I have collected. These will then be published in instalments.
What have you been up to yourself? Have you composed any new Persian tunes or published anything new? You must certainly be working on something - I know you - you are not one to take it easy.

I wish you good health and unfailing energy.

Yours Komitas Vardapet

To Father Dirayr
21 August 1911, St Malo, Villa Franc-Val

Hey old man Toros,

Hmm, you have become very lazy. You left Paris to fall into the doghouse of Kishinev. All the same it has turned out fine. Did you eat…? As you can see I am a guest at Hambartzoums and tomorrow I go to Paris, Berlin, Vienna and then Constantinople.

Greetings to your bald head.

Yours Komitas.

To Spiridon Melikian
[Another contemporary musicologist]
9 June 1913, Constantinople

My dearest Spiridon,

This Saturday I am setting out for the Caucuses and Tbilisi. I shall write or telegraph from Batum to let you know the day I arrive. We shall have a hearty chat when we meet up.

I am truly happy that you have at last got married and even produced the heir to your royal throne. I ask myself what is this Soprano I hear emerging from distant clouds and the Tbilisi horizons? Don’t say it’s our Tsteban [Spiridon].

Just wait and see what a thrashing I’ll give you when I arrive. I will make mince meat out of you to ensure that you do not suddenly fall ill. You’ve found time for this have you! When I read press reports of your new musical union I guessed immediately that it would stir up the city’s musical marshes. I was all the more pleased to hear that to secure its future you have resigned the presidency. The frogs would have croaked against you. Well done and a kiss, dear Tsteban.

I hope we shall soon be able to talk face to face. I am awaiting ministerial authority from Petersburg without whose permission members of the clergy cannot travel to the Caucuses. I don’t anticipate difficulties as the ambassador and myself are like brothers.

Pass on my warmest greetings and blessings to Satik (not Satik Arazian) who has turned out to be a valued and selfless companion for you. As for you and your little boy warm kisses. When I arrive, I shall marry you two once again, the other was not the way to do it, I cannot accept it.

Yours Komitas