Encyclopedia >> Encyclopedia of Armenian Culture >> Art in Armenia (XIX – the beginning of XX century)

 Art in Armenia (XIX – the beginning of XX century). Theater, music and painting played a great role in the life of the Armenian society. At the beginning of the XIX century theatrical performances were staged in the Armenian schools of Constantinople, Izmir, Gevorg ChmshkyanTiflis. In the second half of the XIX century there were constant troupes, and Armenian actors often went on tours abroad, and foreign actors went on tours to Armenia. The theatre Tamamshyan in Tiflis and Eastern Theater in Constantinople became the centers of actors. In 1863 the first East Armenian professional theater was founded in Tiflis, the head of which was Gevorg Chmshkyan. In 1868 Hakob Vardovyan founded a troupe in Constantinople. Various national, patriotic plays were staged during this period. Plays   and comedies by Gabriel Sundukyan, Hakob Paronyan, Alexander Shirvanzade, Levon Shant and by foreign authors were staged too. Petros Adamyan became the pride of the Armenian theater. He mainly played Shakespearean characters. At the beginning of XX century Armenian troupes of Baku and Tiflis organized theater tours to the Caucasian and Central Asian towns with Armenian population.  The troupe of Hovhannes Abelyan and Armen Armenyan went on tours to Western Armenia, Constantinople and Iran.

In 1908, after Young Turk  revolution, the theatrical life  of Western Armenia became more active.  Mihrdat Amrikyan, Martiros Mnakyan,  Azniv Hrachyan, Siranuysh, Hovhannes Zarifyan and others played a unique role in the history of the Armenian theater. Directors Ovi Sevumyan, Levon Kalantar, Amo Kharazyan played a great role in the history of Armenian theater.

In the middle of XIX century European musical notation wasn’t spread in Armenia, andTigran Tchouhadjian there was a need to create a new musical system corresponding to the peculiarities of Armenian national music, in this way Armenian spiritual music wouldn’t be under the foreign influence. This problem was solved by Hambardzum Limonchyan, due to his efforts the system of the Armenian musical notation was improved and only at the end of the century it conceded the European musical notation.

One of the prominent cultural figures of the second half of the century was Tigran Tchouhadjian, who created the first Armenian opera «Arshak II» (1868).  Tigran Tchouhadjian received his musical education in Italy, then he moved to Constantinople and contributed to the development of Armenian music. Tchouhadjian was the first composer to put the Armenian music on the professional base.

Christopher Kara-Murza played a great role in collecting, recording  pieces of Armenian national music and formation of the choruses. The role of Makar YekmaylanHovhannes (Ivan) Aivazovski - The poet's wedding ceremony in Ancient Greece. National Gallery of Armenia. was  significant in   the field of Armenian spiritual music. At the beginning of  XX century Komitas intensively initiated activities in the field of music., he collected, recorded  and studied Armenian  national and spiritual songs. Musicians and composers Spiridon and Romanos Melikyans, Grigor Syuni, Anushavan Ter-Ghevondyan and many others were famous at the end of the XIX century. 

The opera «Anoush» (by Armen Tigranyan) was staged in 1912 in Alexandarpole. During this period Nandedzda Papyan was famous among opera singers, the latter performed Armenian national songs. Folk musicians (Arm:-գուսան, gusan) Djivani and Sheram contributed to the development of Armenian folk art.

In the first half of XIX century Armenian professional artists began to stage exhibitions, those were the graduates from the Academy of Fine Arts of St. Petersburg.  Among them was Aghafon Hovnatanyan. His brother Hakob Hovnatanyan was the most eminent artist of the time. Another artist Stepanos Nersisyan was famous for the portraits of Sahak Partev and Mesrop Mashtots.

One of the prominent Armenian artists in XIX century was marine artist HovhannesGevorg Bashinjaghyan - The citadel of Ani. National Gallery of Armenia. Ayvazovski. He was born in Crimea in Feodosia. All his life he lived in Russia, however he was tied to Armenia.  In his pictures he depicted Armenian Highland, he   kept relations with some Armenian cultural figures.   Armenian artists Vardges Surenynats, Gevorg Bashinjaghyan, Emanuel Mahtesyan, Stepan Aghajanyan, Panos Terlemezyan, Sedrak Arakelyan, Yeghishe Tadevosyan became famous at the end of XIX century and at the beginning of XX century. Armenian sculpture  was also developed in this period. Andreas Ter-Marukyan and Hakob Gyurjyan were distinguished sculptures.

The urban development and the architecture were developed as well in this period.  Yerevan and Alexandrapole  were  reconstructed. The construction  activities were held in Kars, Goris, Shushi.  The architects  from Palyan family were famous in Constantinople.  Alexander Tamanyan, Hovhannes Kajaznunim Gabriel Ter-Melikov were distinguished architects in this period.

                                                                                            Margaryan H.


RA, Yerevan, Alex Manoogian 1, YSU 2nd annex
the 5th floor,
Tel.: + 37460 71 00 92
E-mail: info@armin.am

© Institute for Armenian Studies of YSU
All rights are reserved. In case of full or partial use of the web-site materials or the citation the reference to www.armeniaculture.am is compulsory.