Talk:Alan Hovhaness

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I saw him in 1983 in Seattle - some flutist was performing one of his works on a glass flute (a curious instrument not often seen), and he came out to talk a bit about that flute and its quality of sound. Stan 00:15, 12 Oct 2003 (UTC)

I think the last bit, with his quote about the older generation ruling the younger is not NPOV. The quote can be preserved, but the text above it needs some modification.

We've been observing an odd kind of "WIKI-battle" which seemed to have started up when we added several external links and one new film/video listing. Our new materials were re-edited to the bottom of the list, and new external links added to push our links even further down. It seemed a curious thing, so we tried an "undo" only to find that this triggered a ping-pong match with the individual wishing to push his information to the top.

That's not the purpose of Wikipedia-to be "first". All the links, etc., are good, interesting, and informative and it just doesn't matter who gets "top ranking."

There is an nice story of a little old lady driving her car, and meeting up. bumper-to-bumper, with a huge lorry right at the crest of a narrow, one-lane bridge. The burly lorry driver rolls down his window, yells out "I don't back up for idiots." The little lady replies "That's OK, I do," and shifts into reverse.

+++++++++++++++++++++ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:38, 22 November 2007 (UTC)


While a recording of Hovhaness's first symphony was being played, Copland talked loudly in Spanish to the Latin American composers in the room, and when the recording finished, Bernstein went to the piano, played a melodic minor scale, and remarked, "I can't stand this cheap ghetto music."

I don't get this story. What is the significance of Copland's speaking in Spanish? Was he speaking to the Latin American composers in the room about the Hovhaness music being played? Was he saying something negative about it? I don't know what a melodic minor scale might be, but how does it relate to Hovhaness or what they'd just heard by him? Did the comment about cheap ghetto music refer to Hovhanesses music? - Electric Larry

We know this story from Hovhaness's many retellings of it. Following the playing of the record, Bernstein (despite his own Russian Jewish heritage) apparently caricatured Hovhaness's music by imitating it on the piano, playing a stereotypically "Eastern" scale--though Hovhaness was careful to point out that Bernstein had gotten the scale wrong. Copland's speaking loudly was bothersome to Hovhaness because the introduction of the symphony is very quiet and he felt that he wasn't getting a fair hearing because Copland was talking straight through it and drowning the music out. I don't believe anyone knows what he was saying in Spanish; it might have been related to what was being heard, or not. Whatever the case, Hovhaness felt that his yakking was disrespectful and prevented others from appreciating (or even hearing) his music. Badagnani 06:57, 26 June 2007 (UTC)


The composer's Armenian-Scottish heritage is reflected in the composer's published interviews, as well as standard reference works. Please do not continue to remove this (especially with no consensus first generated here). Badagnani (talk) 20:28, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Please stop pushing your agenda. Thanks --Tom 20:30, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Is this comment meant to be a form of WP:TROLL? If so, I will not feed it. Badagnani (talk) 20:30, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

No, just asking that you stop pushing whatever agenda you have. Please see WP:MOSBIO. Thanks, --Tom 20:33, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

I will not feed it. Badagnani (talk) 20:33, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Are you Armenian or Scottish :) --Tom 20:35, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

I will not feed it. If you begin to contribute in good faith, we will discuss in a normal manner. Badagnani (talk) 20:36, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Seriously Badagnani, ethnicity should not go in the LEAD sentence per mosbio. Maybe in a follow up sentence ect. Do you want to try to reach concensus here? --Tom 20:39, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

You should have discussed this first, not last. I am not convinced you are editing these music articles in good faith, or that you have yet consulted any of the reference works on which we have built this article. Badagnani (talk) 20:42, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

You are correct in that I didn't really look at the references. I was basically trying to edit just the LEAD sentence per mosbio. --Tom 21:24, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Tom - what in Wikipedia:MOSBIO disallows ethnicity in lead sentences? Please remember not to badger fellow editors with links, engage in discussion. Hyacinth (talk) 04:23, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Both of you need (alphabetically: Badagnani and Tom) to Wikipedia:Assume good faith. Do not discuss each others motivations on this talk page, discuss the article. Tom, do not discuss Badagnani's ethnicity. Perhaps you two would be assisted by Wikipedia:Dispute resolution. Hyacinth (talk) 04:29, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

As it stands, the information is still gone from the article. Whatever the editors above are doing in contribution here, it would seem to privilege such non-consensus deletion. Badagnani (talk) 05:40, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Be bold. Hyacinth (talk) 08:31, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

I was bold. Three times. No one else, in the contemporary classical music community or otherwise, was. Badagnani (talk) 08:35, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

If you need help you should feel free to ask for it. I apologize that I forgot to check the edit history and didn't notice the three reverts before I suggested that you be bold. You have yet to make any arguments that ethnicity is "relevant to the subject's notability" (per Wikipedia:Manual of Style (biographies)) and thus belongs in the opening or lead section. You, of course, have been free to add this to any section in the body of the article, and I invite you to do so. Hyacinth (talk) 08:51, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

The composer's Armenian-Scottish heritage is reflected in the composer's published interviews, as well as standard reference works--nearly always in the first sentence of the latter. I see that I noted this just above. Badagnani (talk) 08:54, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Then you should be easily able to quote a passage or cite a page in a published work indicating the notability of Hovhaness' ethnicity. Hyacinth (talk) 09:02, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Tom, if you are actually going through and removing the fact that subjects of articles are of Armenian descent from articles entirely, not removing that information from the lead and placing it in the bodies of the articles, your edits are not constructive and inappropriate. Please stop, thanks. Hyacinth (talk) 09:02, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Hi Hyacinth, I am pretty much sticking to just editing the lead sentences in regards to ethnicity. I will try not to remove sourced material an article if it is there. If you feel any of my edits are questionable, please let me know. Thanks, --Tom 15:24, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
It turns out this information had been in the body of this article all along. Hyacinth (talk) 23:49, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

That isn't, and wasn't the question. It was the summary deletion of identifying information that should have been up top. Badagnani (talk) 00:04, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

You may feel free to rudely disregard my assistance but I still have done your work for you. Hyacinth (talk) 00:08, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

Hovhaness' notability is "relevant to the subject's notability" (per Wikipedia:Manual of Style (biographies)).

  • "He embraced wholeheartedly [Asian musics] and Armenian church music in particular." -- "In Memoriam Alan Hovhaness", The Musical Times, Vol. 141, No. 1872. (Autumn, 2000), pp. 6-7.

As claimed by Badagnani his ethnicity does appear at the beginning of the first sentence:

  • "Alan Hovhaness, an American composer of Scottish-Amerinian descent..."

As such I will place his ethnicity back in the lead. Hyacinth (talk) 00:08, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

The thing is, nearly all the sources contain this statement. It is appreciated that you found one of them. Badagnani (talk) 00:19, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

Tom - you need to actually read the policy at WP:MOSBIO. Hyacinth (talk) 00:28, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

Cut to the chase[edit]

Ok, can we just cut to the chase? Can everybody just state for the record what there agenda is for either including ethnicity in the lead sentence or not including it? My agenda is stated on my user page. Thanks --Tom 00:28, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

Our intentions aren't what matters. What matters is the quality of articles and their compliance with Wikipedia policy. Don't keep making unsupported assertions or the agendas of other editors will get pushed and yours won't. Please quote a policy and explain how you feel that applies to this situation. Hyacinth (talk) 00:31, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
I'll take that as a no. Next. Also, thanks for moving this section here, nice.--Tom 00:35, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
The composer's output, from his very first works, is strongly Armenian in its outlook and style. He called himself "an Armenian composer" and is claimed by the nation of Armenia, who are building a museum for him. His interest in the pipe organ, sacred music, and fugal counterpoint comes from his Scottish Calvinist maternal ancestry. This is known to musicologists and scholars of American music. Thus, his heritage is central to his output, in a manner that may be different from other American composers such as Walter Piston or Paul Creston, both of whose families had changed their names from their Italian birth surnames (Pistone and Guttoveggio), and did not highlight their Italian heritage in their compositions. In this context, we can see that such hard-and-fast rules (and "enforcers" who are not knowledgeable in the subjects of the articles in which they take it upon themselves to blank text, without taking into account the discussion of longtime, expert editors in that field) can create a serious problem. Badagnani (talk) 00:34, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
The refusal to follow policy also causes serious problems. Hyacinth (talk) 00:38, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Maybe you could both set out the policy in question, as you take it to mean, respectively. Badagnani (talk) 00:39, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
What I see there is, "Ethnicity should generally not be emphasized in the opening unless it is relevant to the subject's notability." In the case of Hovhaness, it's indisputable that his Armenian-ness is central to the totality of his output and style (and, hence, his notability). For someone like Eric Bogosian, not so much. Badagnani (talk) 00:41, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Exactly. What you are required to do then is demonstrate that relevance, which, as an "expert", should have been amazingly easy for you to do. See Wikipedia:Verifiability. Hyacinth (talk) 00:52, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
The "snide quotation marks" were really unnecessary and un-Wikipedian, but I'd say that the relevance was already found throughout the article's text. You did a great job, though. Badagnani (talk) 00:59, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
You're welcome. Hyacinth (talk) 01:05, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

See also the discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Armenia#Armenian ethnicity in lead sections. Hyacinth (talk) 01:06, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

I'm Martin Berkofsky, one of the two coordinators of the Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre in Yerevan, Armenia. Mr. Badagnani was our principle researcher for several years. Because of his extensive work, we now have a collection of approximately 2,700 individual Alan Hovhaness items-letters, photographs, videos, interviews, concert programmes, reminiscences, articles, critiques, documents, etc. Mr. Badagnani is too modest to blow his own horn, but we believe that because of his work he probably qualifies as the world's leading expert on Alan Hovhaness. Thanks for letting us contribute. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:51, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Martin Berkofsky here again. If there is any doubt about Alan Hovhaness' Armenian identity, please refer to the below letter which he wrote to the Armenian Weekly newspaper, Hairenik:


HAIRENIK WEEKLY, Thursday December 17, 1959


He Looks Down on Lake Van and Hears an Ancient Sharakan; He Sees the Ararats in the Distance as Supreme Gods

A letter from Composer Alan Hovhaness to a Weekly Editor

Dear Mr. Editor:

I am in India on a Fulbright research scholar grant and am composing and studying ancient Indian music from the Himalayan mountain regions in Kashmir, Kulu, and elsewhere, to south India, around Madras. Later I go to Japan, and on December 30, 31, and January 5, the Armenian Christmas Eve, I will perform my own music and music of Komitas Vartabet in Madras.

I understand that on December 15, my opera "Blue Flame", commissioned by Skitch Henderson, with my words and music will be performed by the San Antonio Symphony, San Antonio, Texas, and the same day "Hercules" with my own words and music will be done in Bombay, India.

Unfortunately, I can be at neither performance.

While in India, I have finished two symphonies-Symphony No. 6 "Celestial Gate", commissioned by Edward B. Benjamin, of New Orleans, and "Nanga Parvat" (Symphony No. 7), commissioned by the American Wind Symphony for performance in Pittsburgh, July 10, 1960. Nanga Parvat is the name of a 26,000 ft. Himalayan peak in Kashmir.

I have also written a "Madras Sonata" for a concert in Madras, January 6, 1960, and "Lake of Van" sonata inspired by my flight across ancient Armenia-this flight was between Athens and Tel Aviv on the morning of September 20.

My destiny was Delhi, India. The morning was clear. I had a north seat near the front of the plane. A friendly mountain with a stone head held three villages on its shoulders. Suddenly, I knew I was over Armenia. I thought I could hear a sharakan (an ancient Armenian Church hymn,) of purple sound like an illuminated manuscript of ancient monks rise like a strong incense from the roof top of a Church. It seemed as if dear old Bishop Hovsep was raising his lion's roar to God, "SOON GABRIEL'S TRUMPET WILL SOUND FOR ME". Gentle mountains gave way to deep ravines and savage cliffs where fire and rock once rent the earth into steep pinnacles of frozen ferocity. Then the miracle:

The plane flew over the center of the mysterious Lake of Van, where so many times I have been in fancy. The mountains rose from the abode of demons into celestial regions; to the north. A high snow wonder MEDZ MASSIS (Ararat Major), towered king of the gods, sloping down and rising eastward to BZDIG MASSIS (Ararat Minor), the supreme God's consort.

I knew how all Armenians and all poets have wept on the altar of these two sacred peaks, twin guardians of dawn, as if the Lake of Van was a sea of tears for the lost glory of Haiasdan.

I offer my greetings to you at Christmastide.

With very best wishes,



Thus once again Mr. Hovhaness, one of the brightest young stars in the American musical firmament, asserts himself as a proud Armenian-the proud son of Armenia who like the prodigal son, on his return, thrills to the mysteries of one of the most ancient of lands-the land where, in the words of Mr. Hovhaness' illustrious progenitor, the great Armenian historian Moses of Khoren, "many great deeds of valor have been accomplished-although our Armenia is but a small patch on the face of the earth". The Hovhaness' letter of course will remain a masterpiece-a touching tribute to the embattled fatherland composed by a sensitive, aesthetic Armenian who embodies the many creative virtues of a cultured, accomplished nation.

Editor, Hairenik Weekly —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:13, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the help. Fortunately this issue has already been resolved. Hyacinth (talk) 02:08, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Armenian script[edit]

It seems to me that the Armenian script currently used in the English-language article for Alan Hovhaness' surname is wrong.

It gives his surname as: Յովհաննէս.

However, if you switch to the Armenian Wikipedia article for Alan Hovhaness (Ալան_Հովհաննես), you see that there they use: Հովհաննես. This spelling is also used in the Armenian page's URL, and in quite a few web sources (e.g.:

I'm not an Armenian, and really don't know much about the Armenian language except for being familiar with the Armenian script for odd work-related reasons. Therefore, I prefer to bring this up for discussion and hope to attract comment or edit by a real Armenian speaker. Sir Orfeo (talk) 10:02, 9 February 2017 (UTC)

Is this appropriate in the lead? TIA --Tom 15:24, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Certainly; there is a museum being constructed in Yerevan dedicated to this composer, one of only two in that nation dedicated to a composer of Armenian heritage (the other being the Aram Khachaturian museum). Though Hovhaness visited Armenia only once, in the 1960s, he is claimed as an Armenian by Armenians in Armenia, and always said of himself, "I am an Armenian composer." The Armenian script can help Armenians to search for him in their own language, just the way putting Hindi for Ravi Shankar or Urdu for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan would do. Badagnani (talk) 20:05, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
It's a common practice, is there a guideline I should be aware of? VartanM (talk) 20:57, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure; some overseas Armenians don't speak any Armenian, yet Armenians might want to search for them in their own alphabet (like people like Atom Egoyan, who are well known in Armenia, for his Armenian-themed films like Calendar and Ararat). I don't think it would be appropriate for someone like Eric Bogosian or George Deukmejian, for example (in this case, if an article exists about them in the Armenian Wikipedia, one could find the Armenian script for these names in the interwiki for those Armenian Wikipedia articles). I'm not sure about a guideline for use of local script, but it has been discussed, such as here. Badagnani (talk) 21:00, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Inaccurate edit: ethnicity and tense[edit]

This unnecessary edit creates a strange rhythm to the text (in the breaking of two sentences that read perfectly well into two that don't read well together), and is, in fact incorrect (he is not living, the inclusion of the word "is" is inaccurate). Badagnani (talk) 00:43, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

External links[edit]

I remove the links to triopod, or whatever it is, since those are self published. --Tom 19:04, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Dear Sir,

Everything on the internet, including Wikipedia, is "self-published." So according to your logic, we should simply eliminate the internet to make you happy.

Seriously, you are vandalising important links which give important information and insight about the composer Alan Hovhaness and keeping important information from readers. Are you a researcher of Alan Hovhaness or did you personally know him? What are your credentials? Please stop destroying things. That isn't proper.


Martin Berkofsky, USA Coordinator Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre, Yerevan, Armenia —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:50, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Dear Martin Berkofsky, couple questions, what is new there that is not already on the listed web sites or in the article? Also why "Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre" doesn't publish it on their own web-site? Information on free web-sites almost never can be a reference point on Wikipedia. You should think about making your own web site under your domain. Steelmate (talk) 18:50, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Everything on our links is new. The reminiscences of Alan Hovhaness appear nowhere else-they are a history of my own experiences knowing and working with Alan Hovhaness. The concert calendar is researched by us and presented as a service to all interested to attend Hovhaness performances. Our sites are not free-we pay monthly fees for the hosting. Were you to be true to what you profess, you would have noticed that the "interviews" and the "" links are part of the same site-and that much of the same information in the Wikipedia article appears on this site. But these are also valuable links containing important and necessary information for those wishing in-depth knowledge of Alan Hovhaness. I hope you will not delete anything else, and that you will cease your 'selective delete" activities so that all in search of knowledge will not be hindered by such arbitrary blackouts. Can we please leave things in peace?


Martin Berkofsky —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:29, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

The - hosts free web sites, you shouldn't be paying. To show your commitment to the issue, you should think getting a DNS name something like, but not The reason why is those registered DNS will officially have your name and they are not free as well. So they are considered to be of important value to you and can be presented as an external resource to Wikipedia. Wikipedia stores only something important, not just something. Steelmate (talk) 14:20, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Dear Sir,

Perhaps you don't understand: I shall patiently try to explain a few things to you. We own the domain names and . When either of the names are entered, they redirect to our Tripod sites. We pay for the domain names and for the Tripod hosting (non-commercial-without advertisements-not free as you seem to think-don't jump to conclusions about something which you do not know.) We use the Tripod pages for easy editing because easy-to-manage templates are supplied. None of us connected with the Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre know HTML or specialised web-designing. We have no budget to hire web-designers; the small funds which we have are used to help research and collect additional Hovhaness research materials from around the world. We are all unpaid volunteers who also have to work at our day jobs; we are just trying to do a good job for music. We are musicians, orchestra managers, etc. But we know our business re Alan Hovhaness solidly having either known Alan Hovhaness personally or having researched his life and works extensively.

Now as far as what is important-you have not given any evidence that you have participated in Alan Hovhaness research or that you ever knew Alan Hovhaness yourself. So if you are going to profess that you have the key as to what is "important" or whatever in the life and works of Alan Hovhaness, then you should show everyone that you have some solid credentials re Alan Hovhaness. Failing this, I again implore you to go in peace and to put your talents to more positive occupations than you presently are employing here. Continued deletions of information which we know is important only serve to lessen the value of Wikipedia to the many who desire to learn from the scholarly and sincere work that dedicated researchers and professionals donate to it.

Incidentally, copies of our Hovhaness collection have been made for and donated to both the Library of Congress and to the University of Washington in Seattle. The professionals in these organisations have not seen fit to delete anything.


Martin Berkofsky —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:13, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

I see, well owning those domains does show seriousness of you intentions, and I see current situation with tripod as a temporary solution. Also link to those domains already are in the article. But anyway I have no more objections having those additional links on the page. Steelmate (talk) 01:25, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Many thanks. That is wonderful if we can work in harmony on this.


Martin Berkofsky —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:27, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Discrimination against Armenians in Somerville[edit]

A recently added statement that the family moved from Somerville, MA to Arlington

  • "at the urging of Hovhaness' mother because of the discrimination against Armenians in Somerville."

The edit comment says "Information received from next-door neighbour of Chakmakjian/Hovhaness family in Arlington."

I don't see how something like this can go into an article on the basis of something heard verbally. It's got to have a verifiable reference.

If discrimination against Armenians in Somerville was serious and widespread at the time, it should be possible to document that by reference to a reliable source. Perhaps there is a reliable source that could be quoted that says generally that Armenians were leaving Somerville or complaining of discrimination at the time.

I think one could say "the family moved from Somerville, MA to Arlington at thus-and-such time, a time when many Armenian families were complaining of discrimination in Somerville" or something like that, and let the reader decide whether that could have been a likely factor in the decision to move. Dpbsmith (talk) 21:47, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Alan Hovhaness himself said to his next-door neighbor in Arlington,(whom I just visited,) that his family had moved from Somerville to Arlington, at the insistence of his mother, because of "discrimination against Armenians." It would only make matters worse to invent imaginary phrases such as "widespread...complaining, etc" when we have the composer's exact and precise words. Isn't it a matter of common sense to present the exact words of Alan Hovhaness in an article about Alan Hovhaness?
Sorry-signature was left out: Martin Berkofsky, American Coordinator, Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre, yerevan, Armenia.
Please read Wikipedia's policies on verifiability and source citation. These are core Wikipedia policies.
If those words of Alan Hovhaness have been published in a reliable source... then they can be used, otherwise not. Does the Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre issue print publications? Has this conversation been reported in one of them? If so, I think that would be a perfectly good, citable source.
I am sorry, no, we cannot use your personal statement about what Hovhaness's neighbor's said that Hovhaness said, unless they have appeared in a reliable source. This a minor point, and not the real problem here, but we do not even have any way of knowing whether "" is Martin Berkofsky. But in any case, Wikipedia's articles do not rest on the authority of their contributors, who are essentially anonymous, but on verifiability by reference to published, reliable sources.
If the Boston Globe, or, for that matter, the Arlington Advocate interviewed you, and you mentioned this incident in a published newspaper story, you could cite the story. Dpbsmith (talk) 00:13, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

O Gosh, this is getting silly. First of all, yes, I am Martin Berkofsky , American Coordinator of the Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre in Yerevan, Armenia. Now in this case, I am the interviewer, not the interviewee. Therefore, we are the reliable source. The story has been published on the Alan Hovhaness Discussion Group as below:

"I recently returned from the Boston area after a very rewarding trip. First, there was the concert and reception at the Armenian Cultural Foundation in Arlington, Massachusetts. Music of Hovhaness, McDonald, and Tigran Mansurian was performed. Wonderful and illuminating talks were given by Tigran Mansurian and Vache Sharafyan.

I had the chance to speak at length with Dr. Elizabeth Gregory, (who at age 91 had just travelled from her home in Pennsylvania, ) meet many members of the Boston Armenian community who had many Hovhaness memories, and to spend a day with the former next-door neighbour of the Hovhaness/Chakmakjian family, touring Arlington, visiting the Hovhaness/Chakmakjian boyhood home, and travelling the streets and hills where Hovhaness and his father walked.

Arlington, Massachusetts, is a town of hills. Undoubtedly, Hovhaness had his first experience of high places walking with his father to Turkey Hill, a high point in Arlington. We visited the Arlington Historical Society to view an excellent exhibit of Alan Hovhaness and his family. I learned that Alan and his family had moved from Somerville at the insistence of his mother, Madeleine Scott, because of the discrimination against Armenians in Somerville; that Alan always regarded Arlington as his home town.

I will make a second trip to the Boston area later this summer for more detailed research. Meanwhile, photos collected on this trip (Hovhaness/Chakmakjian home, etc.,) can be viewed at:




Now, we have also published the story along with the picture of the Hovhaness/Chakmakjian home in Arlington in one of the links above (the links are part of our website , the official website of the Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre.) And as we generate additional factual information developed from our at-the-source researching, the story will be published in additional places. We have sister collections at both the Library of Congress and at the University of Washington in Seattle.

This is a true story passed directly to me from a gentleman of high integrity and many years' acquaintance with the Chakmakjian/Hovhaness family. We are not making it up or embellishing anything. It is just the truth and we happen to be the first to bring it to public light.

Making things up is not the issue. Dpbsmith (talk) 10:19, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

So I think you are trying to cover up the truth. I don't know which axe you are trying to grind, or who you are or what your own credentials are. Did you know Alan Hovhaness or his family? Do you know anyone in Arlington, MA? Do you write? Are you published? Do you have a degree in journalism? Or are you just trying to throw your weight around?

By keeping verifiable facts from your pages you do your reading public a disservice and cast doubt on the veracity of Wikipedia. Please let the facts stand. We have reported and will continue to report a true story.

Not at all. If the facts are verifiable, in the sense of Wikipedia's verifiability policy WP:V--and WP:CITE, and WP:RS, I would strongly support their inclusion. Please address how your information relates to these policies. Wikipedia is constantly dealing with people who wish to put original research into Wikipedia, but it is not allowed.
I'm not challenging your identity or your authority. I'm trying to point out the reasons why Wikipedia has the policies it does. In the world of traditional encyclopedias with credentialed and credited authors working under the direction of known editors, a fact can go in based on the authority of the editor. At Wikipedia, the authority of the editor is irrelevant. We have to have rules that work that do not require knowing the identities or credentials of contributors.
That said, in terms of working with the Wikipedia community things will go somewhat more smoothly if you create a Wikipedia account, perhaps using a name that resembles your real name. Then you can create a user page for yourself that will include whatever you want people to know regarding your name, the Hovhaness centre, etc. Dpbsmith (talk) 10:19, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Yours sincerely,

Martin Berkofsky,

Please also check this direct link:

Many thanks,

Martin Berkofsky

Perhaps another chapter in this ongoing saga: Hovhaness' early-on confrontation with this kind of discrimination (I was told that the family truly suffered from it,) would certainly have added fuel to his eventual return to his Armenian roots after Bernstein, Copland, and Company's denouncing of his Exile Symphony (written for his father who could not return to his homeland) as "ghetto trash." This is too important an event to be be deleted or even minimalised. Please be sensitive.


Martin Berkofsky

I would support including this kind of material in the article, provided it is carefully written and properly sourced and referenced. Obviously anything of this sort needs to be handled carefully. Please believe me, as far as my personal involvement is concerned this is about the references, the references, and nothing but the references. Dpbsmith (talk) 10:47, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Many thanks for your sensitive comments. Can we work together on this? (Is there a footnote or something like that which would help with explanation?) The story was related to me by Mr. Jack Johnston who was a long-time next-door neighbor in Arlington of the Chakmakjian/Hovhaness family. Jack told me that Alan Hovhaness himself had told him this exact story. Jack also helped to prepare the Chakmakjian/Hovhaness exhibit case at the Arlington Historical Society. Jack was such a gold-mine of information that I decided to schedule a second trip to Arlington later this summer in order to interview him in depth. Jack continued a life-long friendship with the family-both Haroutioun Chakmakjian, Alan's father, and Alan himself. In Jack's home, is the framed original first page (manuscript,) of the last movement of the "Mt. St. Helen's Symphony" which Alan had presented to him.

I guess the question is how to present the information so that readers can understand that it is legitimate and that nobody's leg is being pulled and that no axes are being ground. I myself am not trying to grind an axe in favour of any single nationality, but rather for the friendship and peace among all, having brought a Turkish soloist to perform Hovhaness with the Armenian Philharmonic, and having played Hovhaness in Turkey. (Also see for an account of a ceremony-and its positive developments-which we held in Adana honouring Haroutioun Chakmakjian.)

That's a good idea to establish a user account with a recognisable name-I'll try to follow up on this.

Meanwhile, many thanks again if we can work together.


Martin Berkofsky

  • RfC response: This information cannot be included, and its inclusion would actually violate policy. Wikipedia has very clear, established rules for verifiability. Unfortunately, but the nature of the project, these criteria do not include whehter we believe something to be true or believeable, only on if it is verifiable by a reputable source. Per WP:NPF:

Wikipedia also contains biographies of people who, while notable enough for an entry, are not generally well known. In such cases, editors should exercise restraint and include only material relevant to their notability, while omitting information that is irrelevant to the subject's notability. Material from third-party primary sources should not be used unless it has first been published by a reliable secondary source. Material published by the subject must be used with caution. (See Using the subject as a source.)

So, to apply the info here, Alan Hovhaness is the primary source. These are generally frowned upon, since the person has high motivation to alter the truth ("I was the valedictorian of my class") Alan Hovhaness neighbor is a secondary source, he heard it from Hovaness. You are a third party, since you heard from the neighbor. If you use the policy above to our current situation, then I think you will see why it isn't permissable.--Esprit15d • talkcontribs 18:35, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

O gosh, we are going to get even more migraines from this than we have gotten from the presidential primaries. Look, Alan Hovhaness is an internationally recognised and statured figure-he didn't need to make up stuff. Mr.Johnstohn, His next-door neighbor and life-long friend, was recipient of a Purple Heart, professional baseball player and then scout for the Houston Astros. And, he helped to research and to prepare the exhibit materials about Alan Hovhaness and one other prominent Armenian family in Arlington, for the Arlington Historical Society. He didn't need to make up stuff to blow his own horn. He was just being sensitive to an inhuman condition that caused much needless suffering-and a situation which should not be denied (as in Holocaust or Genocide denials.) Of course any reasonable person would ask questions if you yourself claim to have been a valedictorian simply because you don't present any viable credentials at all. But to compare yourself with Alan Hovhaness, a world figure, leaves you open to some pretty serious questioning whether you are just trying to blow up your own image. So please, let's be sensitive to the suffering of others and not be so belittling and self-righteous. Thanks for your understanding.


Martin Berkofsky, American Coordinator Alan Hovhaness International Research Centre Yerevan, Armenia

P.S. I will be doing an extensive interview with Mr. Johnston, later this summer. The Hovhaness Centre will publish the interview.

Comment In which case, wait til the story is published and reference to that published source. Assuming it meets all requirements of reliable sources of course. I know it's annoying when you know that what you say is true, but how are any of the rest of us to know that? I'm sure you're acting in good faith, but what you want to do is clearly and unambiguously against Wikipedia's policies, as explained above.
It's not a case of being "belittling and self-righteous" (are you sure using those terms puts you in a good light, by the way?), but of following the rules for publishing information on this site. Other sites have different rules, so you might submit the information there. Or, if you think the rules here are wrong, put up a case to change them (I guess the talk pages of the No original research or verifiability policies would be the place to start). But please understand that the rules don't get ignored simply because you know that you're acting in good faith. 4u1e (talk) 09:56, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Martin Berkofsky, just curious... while searching through The New York Times to see if I could find anything relevant, I ran across an item about a pianist named Martin Berkofsky who had a debut in Town Hall on December 12, 1965, playing music of Liszt, Scarlatti, and Hovhaness... would there be a connection? Dpbsmith (talk) 17:07, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Yes, the same. I hadn't met Hovhaness yet (it was not until 1971 that I met him and then started working with him,) but already had had a long-time fascination with his music. Another funny coincidence-Walter Simmons, who reviewed the Two-Piano Concerto Moscow recording (Fanfare,) was at that concert though I didn't meet him and learn of this until some 40 years later. Walter himself had a long and fascinating correspondence with Alan and gave copies of it all to us for the Hovhaness Centre.


Martin Berkofsky (now user Hovhanesscentre)

External Link Request[edit]

Dear Editors,

At the suggestion of Paul Erik, I leave it to you decide whether or not to add an external link to my website on Wikipedia's Alan Hovhaness page.

I run, a website featuring free, in-depth content on a variety of musical topics which receives 7,000 - 8,000 visits a month from all over the world. My exclusive interviews with Steve Reich, William Bolcom, and other important musical figures may be found on my site. ( will soon become Adventures in Music .org.)

My article on Alan Hovhaness is the product of research and reflection. It may be found at -

It is an express purpose of Wikipedia to provide external links to "additional information". ("Wikipedia's articles provide links to guide the user to related pages with additional information." - My content is rich and substantive and thus constitutes "additional information". Thus, my content falls within the 'paramount interests' exception to Wikipedia's conflict of interest rule. ("Do not edit Wikipedia to promote your own interests, or those of other individuals, companies, or groups, UNLESS (emphasis added) you are certain that the interests of Wikipedia remain paramount." -

Judging by the number of people clicking through to my site from other Wikipedia pages, Wikipedia would be well-served by adding this link and I am hoping for a favorable decision.

Respectfully, -Chris Wright, Founder —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cwdirect (talkcontribs) 18:52, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

I would not support this. Quick Googling suggests that "Christopher M. Wright," the author of the linked article, is not a recognized music authority; there are no books on music listed by Amazon showing him as an author.
The fact that the site is a .biz domain strongly suggests commercialism. When I enter the site at the top level, it's not even that easy to find the Hovhaness article; it's not linked from the top page or the "deep content" link, so it's not as if the site were a labor-of-love personal tribute specifically to Hovhaness.
I would certainly suggest that you help edit the Alan Hovhaness, as your edits would be informed by your interest in Hovhaness and would likely be valuable.
But a link to what seems to me to be just a personal essay, on a site which is obviously trying to be commercial, doesn't seem appropriate to me.
Just my $0.02. Dpbsmith (talk) 21:58, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
P. S. The interviews with Max Morath are not just personal essays. I think they're valuable content and could well be linked from... hmmm, we don't have an article on Max Morath? ...ah, I see you've already linked those interviews from the Ragtime article. That seems legit to me. Have you considered writing an article on Max Morath? If you haven't done it before, I'd caution you not to start until you've got a paragraph or two written that clearly establishes why he's important. Dpbsmith (talk) 22:01, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

Composer project assessment[edit]

I've given this article a B assessment for the Composers project. There's a lot of good work here, but I think the article barely qualifies according to the project assessment guidelines in spite of it. A few comments:

  • The biography is good, but there is no mention of the circumstances (when, where, why) of his death (only who survived him).
  • There should be a complete list of published works somewhere (probably in a separate article, given the number). If the given list is already complete, the heading should be changed.
  • There is no significant critical analysis of his work as a composer or musician (from musicological sources). See Wikipedia:WikiProject Composers#Article structure.
  • The article uses inconsistent citation styles (seen in the lead), and needs more inline citations.
  • There are numerous other prose and style issues (WP:MOS,WP:LEAD). I'm guessing a fair amount of contribution has come from non-native English speakers. The article really could use copyediting.
  • The article could use more images and audio media, if available, for an article of this length. (Images of places important to him, influential figures in his life, etc.)

If you have questions or comments about my comments, please let me know on my talk page. Magic♪piano 14:28, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Shall we move this to Talk:Alan Hovhaness/Comments? --Kleinzach 14:04, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
I think I'll eventually redo it using the review template. Magic♪piano 00:08, 22 November 2008 (UTC)
OK. I assume you know how to make a comments page then. --Kleinzach 02:40, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

RE: Hovhaness name changes:[edit]

Please do not delete any of the words of Jean Nandi, the daughter of Alan Hovhaness. I have quoted her own complete explanation of why her father changed his name twice. Deleting her complete statement gives an inaccurate picture of what she wrote. Incidentally, her book was never published-only a proof copy was registered shortly before the would-be publisher folded. We are presently working with Mrs. Nandi to try to find a publisher for the book. Again, please do not delete, distort, or otherwise re-fashion her words, all of which are important to her view of the name-change question. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hovhanesscentre (talkcontribs) 00:50, 4 February 2009 (UTC)


RE: Hovhaness name changes:

Looks like the Mrs. Nandi quotation was shortened by "Hovhanesswebsite" editor for purposes of brevity, rather than "refashioned", and that words in square brackets were added for clarification in the shortened quote. The comment by Mr. Martin Berkofsky that this edit was "malicious" is totally uncalled for and does not show him in a good light. On the face of it, looking through the history of this article, he appears to be becoming very possessive of edits to the article made by anyone other than himself! Perhaps Mr. Berkofsky needs to be directed to Wikipedia:Assume good faith. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:05, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

+++++++++++++++++++ (talk) 01:00, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Just to responsibly follow up the Poseidon Soceity question, I tried to find out whether Elizabeth Whittington (who was Hovhaness' wife at the time Poseidon Society was created and who owned it following their divorce prior to her selling it to Crystal Records,) might have a definitive answer. "...not know the connection of the chosen name to anything in particular," was the answer which came back to me. So it seems that the source of the name "Poseidon Society" will at the moment remain a mystery, despite the apparent urban legends that have seemed to spring up around it. Another apparent urban legend seems to revolve around the name of one of Hovhaness' New York residences, the Alvin Hotel. I once asked him whether he chose this residence because its first syllables (AL HO,)matched those of his name-he denied this. However another individual claimed that he confirmed it. We will probably never know. Urban legends...


Martin Berkofsky —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:23, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

O gosh, here goes again. Will there never be any peace from those who have nothing better to do than to delete what others try to contribute in good faith? Jean Nandi's (Alan Hovhaness' daughter,) book "Unconventional Wisdom" really exists. It is registered with the Library of Congress. It was completely edited, (nobody ever said that it wasn't as you claim,) contracted, and set for publication. The publication failed when the publisher went belly-up. There is though one sample copy for sale on E-Bay. Please don't pick on Jean Nandi, deleting her words about her father.


Martin Berkofsky —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:45, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

O gosh, dear sir. I don't understand these silly rules that you are just making up. Now look here, these are the words of Alan Hovhaness' daughter. I know her, have spoken with her, am in regular contact with her. She has no reason to make up anything about her father, the words are the truth as she has written them. Now if you are going to continue making up rules, then you should also delete the stuff about the name change "because it was difficult to pronounce" or whatever, because that information comes from an unpublished interview. So what's the difference-interview-book, or do you just make up a special rule each time depending upon your like or dislike of the contributor? We have our readers to consider and can't just go on with these really silly games.


Martin Berkofsky —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:19, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

Nobody is making things up; read our guidelines on reliable sources. Hearsay and unpublished works are not reliable sources as we define them. --Orange Mike | Talk 01:35, 16 March 2009 (UTC)


RE "an heroic": Many thanks again for noticing this. How do you think it is best handled? Hovhaness himself had written "an" on the Guggenheim application. He tended occasionally to mis-spell words (there is a letter where he writes "climed" Mt.Monadnock, a letter to me where he writes about the composer "List." But I can't even remember whether this is some obscure grammatical rule about using "an" before the consonant "h." If he made a mistake, should we follow it with (sic)? Is it a mistake? Thanks for advice on how best to solve this one.


Martin Berkofsky

"an heroic" is perfectly good usage in many forms of the English language, and falls under our guidelines about varieties of English in Wikipedia. --Orange Mike | Talk 01:35, 16 March 2009 (UTC)


Dear Sir, Mr. "Orange Mike,"

It is good that we can make some sense out of the "an heroic" and leave things as Alan Hovhaness actually wrote them. Now seriously, you can't just declare that something doesn't exist because you've made up your mind that way. You can't change the truth. I have been acting as agent-distributor for Mrs. Nandi-I have the book here; some 30 copies have been distributed by me. I'd be happy to send you a copy. All four branches of the Hovhaness Centre have copies. Researchers and scholars have requested and received copies. It really exists-you can't just declare it "unsourced" by your personal whim, and leave other "unsourced" materials intact. There has to be one rule for everything, not a picky, personal, and selective one as you use. No rational for continually obliterating this and leaving information from an unpublished interview. (By the way- <redacted> "Hovhaness website" never asked the permission of the interviewer, Lynn Johnston, whom I know well, if he could quote from her interview. Aren't there some rules here???) And yes, Jean Nandi has given me permission.

Final thought; you guys have been busy obliterating the user page for the Hovhaness Centre because you claim it is an organisation and not an individual. Where does that put "Hovhaness website?" Shouldn't we apply the same rules to everyone???


Martin Berkofsky

P.S. Good to see that you are a real person, Michael James Lowrey. I imagine that if we had met somewhere else besides these pages we would probably be able to shake hands and be friends.

Composer project review[edit]

I first reviewed this article about 6 months ago, when I first started reviewing composer articles. I've done a more extensive review of the article, which is on the comments page. I highly recommend Messrs Berkofsky and Badagnani (or whoever is operating the two Hovhaness-named accounts editing the article) read it; the article needs a lot of work. In some areas (for example, providing more and better pictures), they may be uniquely suited to improving the article; I assume the Hovhaness Centre is in possession of photos that could be used here, under appropriate release. Magic♪piano 16:44, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Header's quote[edit]

Can someone having an access to The Boston Globe's archive check if the unreferenced quote in the header is from the following article: Richard Buell, Sinfo Nova remembers Hovhaness, February 2, 1987 --Sins We Can't Absolve (talk) 19:40, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

This looks promising, thanks. However, using the ProQuest database access to pre-1997 Boston Globe articles turns up nothing by searching this title or this author. Even browsing the 2 February 1987 issue, I find 82 documents listed alphabetically by title, but this one is not found (it ought to be between SECOND LOOK DANIEL SHAYS' REBELLION by Richard Higgins, and SNIPING ATTACKS STOP, BUT TASK FORCE KEEPS WORKING by Associated Press. A visual search of all 82 article titles also comes up blank. Perhaps ProQuest's access is not exhaustive.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:54, 8 January 2010 (UTC)


"Interviews with Alan Hovhaness" includes an interview on PACIFICA Radio, KPFA. Hyacinth (talk) 06:53, 21 February 2010 (UTC)


Jerome Kohl- [07:34, 22 February 2010 (UTC)] I changed the references lists to list and you're going to criticize me for inconsistency? Hyacinth (talk) 06:02, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

Whom are you addressing, Hyacinth? If you are referring to my recent adjustment to the footnote formats, are you taking credit for the many inconsistencies that were there? Or are you referring to something else?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 07:09, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
Sorry. Since I didn't say I created those inconsistencies I'm not taking credit for them. However, I did reduce them, and you complained. Hyacinth (talk) 07:34, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
I did? Remind me of what I said. All I remember doing was (1) trying to make a full-length bibliographical footnote consistent with the (slightly) predominant author-date forms found in other footnotes, and then (2) when you insisted on the full-citation format, accepting your decision and trying to make the other refs conform to your preference.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 19:16, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

Verify credibility[edit]

Richard Howard, Hovhaness Interview: Seattle 1983, private.

Why does the above source need its credibility verified? Hyacinth (talk) 08:39, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

My mistake. I saw the legend "private" and assumed that meant "unpublished". Since there is a link (which I did not notice, in my blindness), it obviously has been published. I think the citation could make this clearer, though, by replacing "private" with "The Alan Hovhaness Website", and giving the publication year of 2005, as shown on that site. I'll correct this, since it was my mess.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 18:36, 23 February 2010 (UTC)


First, I'm happy to see that a lot of good work has gone into this article since the last time I looked at it.

If only that would carry over into other things: I am completely stunned and terribly disappointed that there does not appear to be a single article about any of his compositions. Not one. We have 237 composers represented in the sub-categories of Category:Compositions by composer -- including at least a few people that I've never even heard of -- but Alan Hovhaness is not among them. This is truly sad. (Somehow I'm reminded of when he died, and the classical music public radio station I listen to didn't play an hour or two of his music to take note of his passing, even though there's a very sizable Armenian community in the area.) Anyway, I would love to see some articles created, obviously starting with his best known works.

PS - Has any thought been given to splitting off the compositions section into a separate article? It seems like a pretty obvious thing to do at this point. Regards, Cgingold (talk) 08:06, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

These are all very good ideas. Badagnani (talk) 18:57, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
NOTE: I've moved this section from above in hopes of re-opening this particular discussion.
Here we are -- 3-1/2 years later -- and it appears that not one article has been written about any of his compositions. (There are now 560 composers represented in Category:Compositions by composer.) What a sad state of affairs! Cgingold (talk) 11:02, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
What is hoped to be a complete List of compositions by Alan Hovhaness was developed by User:Jerome Kohl and me over a number of months in my sandbox, and finally posted formally as a list on Wikipedia on 12 April 2012. This list is arranged by final opus numbers rather than by date, since Hovhaness kept revising and/or retitling many of the works themselves, resulting in multiple dates for them; he also revised his catalog at times, assigning new opus numbers for several compositions (sometimes giving lower rather than higher numbers). A number of discrepancies were found between the three main sources used in compiling this list, which have been noted in the listings and annotations. The much older Partial list of compositions that is included here in the main Hovhaness article, which is arranged by supposed date, has not yet been cross-checked against the separate full list, but more than likely may include a number of errors or other discrepancies. Note that of the sources used for the full listing, New Grove omits a number of compositions and confuses others, and is probably the least reliable of these.
Anyone is welcome to create analytical articles discussing any or all of these compositions - doing so would be far beyond my own competence. Milkunderwood (talk) 20:19, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Just to inform you. On the Dutch Wikipedia, there are descriptions of more than 100 compositions of Hovhaness. See nl:Categorie:Compositie van Hovhaness.Ceescamel (talk) 09:31, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Alan Hovhaness/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Last edited at 16:36, 30 March 2009 (UTC). Substituted at 07:01, 29 April 2016 (UTC)