Haroutioun Hovanes Chakmakjian

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Haroutioun Hovanes Chakmakjian
Born 20 October 1878
Adana, Ottoman Empire
Died 22 May 1973 (1973-05-23) (aged 94)
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, United States
Occupation Author, writer, linguist, chemist

Haroutioun Hovanes Chakmakjian (20 October 1878, in Adana, Ottoman Empire − 22 May 1973, in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, United States) was a published scientist, as well as the father of American composer Alan Hovhaness. A professor of chemistry at Tufts University, Chakmakjian wrote numerous books in several languages. His notable publications included an English-Armenian dictionary which is believed to be the first of its kind in the modern Armenian language.[1] The dictionary has become an enduring work of Armenian lexicography and remains regularly used today.[2][3] His other publications included a 700-page history of Armenia.

Family / Early background[edit]

Chakmakjian was of Armenian background and was born in Adana, Ottoman Empire on 20 October 1878.[4][5] His surname means "gunsmith", a name given to one of his ancestors who had been skilled in creating finely engraved and decorated firearms.[6] Born in 1878, his parents were Hovanes L. Chakmakjian and Cohar Garabed Janbazian, both farmers. He studied at the Abcarian (Apcarian) High School in Adana, then studied for just over one year at the Antoura French Missionary College in Beirut.


Chakmakjian began his career as a teacher and taught in Gesaria (Kayseri today) and in Giresun.[7] He taught in Beirut in the early years of the 20th century, during the time of one of the early Ottoman massacres of Armenians. Rather than return to his birthplace of Adana, he decided to take a ship to France. He subsequently moved to Stamford, Connecticut and eventually settled in Boston, Massachusetts, where he studied at Harvard University from fall 1905 to spring 1908, then entered Harvard again in February 1912, obtaining an A.B. degree in June 1913 (as a member of the class of 1909).[5][7]

He later served as a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Tufts College, and was affiliated with the Tufts Medical School on Huntington Avenue in Boston. He retired from the Medical School in 1949. Thereafter, in 1955, Chakmakjian retired from Tufts University as a Professor emeritus.[7]


On May 28, 1910, in Somerville, Massachusetts, he married Madeleine Scott (d. October 3, 1930), an American woman of Scottish and English descent who had graduated from Wellesley College.[5] They had one son, Alan Hovhannes, a future composer who reached international fame, who was born on 8 March 1911.[8]


Chakmakjian died of bronchopneumonia in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts on May 22, 1973, aged 94.

Literary work[edit]

In addition to his scientific work, in 1908 Chakmakjian became the chief-editor for the The Hairenik newspaper while studying at Harvard, remaining in that position until February 1912.[7][9] He also authored an English-Armenian dictionary of approximately 1,600 pages published under the name H. H. Chakmakjian around 1920 or 1922 by Yeran Press. The dictionary was republished several times till that date.[7] Other scholarly articles included topics related to chemistry, biochemistry, and the Armenian language. Among his other publications was a book of about 700 pages on the history of Armenia published in 1917.[10] He was a member of the American Chemical Society, was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the New England Association of Chemistry Teachers.


Some of Chakmakjian's publications include:


  1. ^ "New England triptych to honor Alan Hovhaness". Armenian Reporter. 25 April 2005. Harutiun Chakmakjian, a Harvard graduate, and professor at Tufts University, and author of the first Armenian English dictionary, was known to have walked 15 miles in one day in his later years. 
  2. ^ "Haroutiun Chakmakjian". DSCH Journal: 49. 2001. Haroutiun Chakmakjian was not only a chemistry professor but a lexicographer, whose Armenian-English dictionary is still in standard use. 
  3. ^ Adalian, Rouben Paul (2010). Historical dictionary of Armenia (2nd ed.). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. p. 367. ISBN 0810874504. 
  4. ^ Kostelanetz, Richard (1989). On innovative music(ian)s (1st ed.). New York: Limelight Editions. p. 96. ISBN 0879101210. 
  5. ^ a b c Kinnear, Tyler (2011). Alan hovhaness and the creation of the "modern free noh play.". BiblioBazaar. ISBN 124338347X. 
  6. ^ Battcock, Gregory (1981). Breaking the sound barrier : a critical anthology of the new music (1. ed.). New York: Dutton. p. 286. ISBN 0525475982. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "The 80th of the Hairenik Daily: An Editorial Introduction". Armenian Review. 32 (1): 7. 1979. ISSN 0004-2366. 
  8. ^ The International who is who in Music. Who is Who in Music, Incorporated, Limited. 1951. p. 227. 
  9. ^ Adanalian, Garo. "A Milestone in the Armenian Press: Hairenik Celebrates 100th Year of Publication". Hairenik. Archived from the original on August 7, 2006. 
  10. ^ Hovanes Chakmakjian, Haroutioun (1917). Ěndardzak patmutʻiwn hayotsʻ: skizbēn minchʻew mer ōrerě (in Armenian). Boston: Hrat. Eran Gratan.