Tributes dedicated to Alexander Tamanian

The great architect Alexander Tamanian led a very interesting and busy life. He was blessed with an amazing circle of friends, many of whom were talented and renowned in different fields.

Alexander Tamanian lived during an incredible era. He had personally met Tsar Nicholas II of the Russian Empire, writer Maxim Gorky, opera singer Feodor Chaliapin and composer Sergey Prokofiev. He was a close friend of poet Avetik Isahakian, painter Martiros Sarian, writer Marietta Shaginian, the incredibly talented artistic families of the Benois, the Lancerays and the Schreters to mention a few well-known names.

Here we present some of the warm tributes dedicated to Alexander Tamanian from the renowned people who knew, loved and respected him.

Zara and Gagik Tamanian will be very happy to hear from you and can be contacted via email:

The great architect Alexander Tamanian

Martiros Sarian, renowned Armenian painter

Martiros Sarian

Martiros Sarian (1880-1972) - the great Armenian painter of the 20th century, founder of the new modern Armenian national school of painting, master of colour, People's Artist of the USSR, member of the USSR Academy of Fine Arts, academician of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, President of the Union of Artists of the USSR. Martiros Sarian and Alexander Tamanian were great friends, who respected and supported each other in life and work. Martiros Sarian House-Museum in Yerevan was opened during the artist's lifetime in 1967. The museum's building consists of a two-storey private house designed by Alexander Tamanian in 1929 and a three-storey gallery built in 1967, designed by architect Mark Grigoryan. To find out more about Martiros Sarian please visit his House-Museum (address: 3 Martiros Sarian Street, Yerevan) or online (in English, Russian and Armenian languages).

Alexander Tamanian by Martiros Sarian, Yerevan, 1928

(from left to right): Renowned painter Martiros Sarian, renowned architects Alexander Tamanian and Mikael Mazmanian, Yerevan, 1930s

Portrait of Alexander Tamanian by Martiros Sarian, Yerevan, 1933

Seal of His Appearance

With an eagle's gaze, tall and slender, always restless, quick, hot-tempered and enthusiastic - such was Alexander Tamanian when I first met him in 1911 at the World of Art exhibition, in which we both took part. From this meeting began my friendship with this genius man of our time. He was fortunate enough to mark an entire era in architecture. In Armenia, our revived homeland, Tamanian found the soil that nourished the roots of his creative genius and gave him strength to overcome great difficulties. I do not forget that memorable day when Sergo Ordzhonikidze (prominent Soviet party leader), arrived in Yerevan and with other officials visited Tamanian’s workshop. Seeing Tamanian’s project of the People's House (Opera Theatre), he expressed his admiration for the architect and warmly embraced him, thanked him enthusiastically and wished him new successes. Such trust inspired and obliged Tamanian, and he completely dedicated himself to his nation and managed to create genuine miracles. Yerevan today is the oldest of the beautiful cities built during the Soviet era and the youngest of the ancient cities, it has its own national style which bears the unfading stamp of Alexander Tamanian’s personality."
Martiros Sarian, renowned Armenian painter
"Classic of the Armenian Architecture" for the 100th year Celebrations of A. Tamanian, newspaper Communist, 19.05.1978. Translated from Russian by Zara Tamanian

Avetik Isahakyan, prominent Armenian poet, activist

Avetik Isahakyan

Avetik Isahakyan (1875-1957) was a prominent Armenian lyrical poet, writer and public activist. Avetik Isahakyan and Alexander Tamanian were great friends. More information about the renowned poet can be found at his house-museum in Yerevan.

Bound Together Forever

Yerevan's name is connected to Tamanian's surname. Yerevan bears the stamp of his genius, his wide-winged breath is everywhere. On the basis of his drawings, verified by his logic, our capital has risen... and grateful Yerevan from generation to generation will bow its head in respect to the memory of the great artist and patriot."Avetik Isahakyan, renowned Armenian poet, writer
"Classic of the Armenian Architecture" for the 100th year Celebrations of A. Tamanian, newspaper Communist, 19.05.1978. Translated from Russian by Zara Tamanian

Opera and Ballet Theatre, Yerevan, Armenia

From the memoirs of Avetik Isahakyan "IN MEMORY OF THE INCOMPARATED TAMANIAN", Paris, February 20, 1936:

Most of all, Tamanian was worried, exhausted and at the same time inspired by the problem of building the People's House (Opera Theatre). It was a kind of restless spirit that haunted him. For years he worked on its design, sketching, drafting, rejecting ideas and sketching again, changing the project many times and being always dissatisfied. What came out on paper did not coincide with the image of the building that he had in his soul. Always tirelessly striving for perfection, he finally found the project satisfactory and started to implement it. When I went to say goodbye to him before leaving for Europe, he looked away from the countless drawings of the People's House lying in front of him and said: - Oh, how happy I will be if on your return you will see the building complete. We must hurry, time is not merciful to me... I understood it, and my heart trembled." Translated from Russian by Zara Tamanian

Pavel Shillingovskiy, renowned engraver, painter

Pavel Shillingovskiy

Pavel Alexandrovich Shillingovskiy (1881-1942) was a renowned Soviet engraver, painter, teacher. Representative of the academic school.

Portrait of A. Tamanian by Pavel Shillingovsky (Soviet engraver, painter, teacher), Yerevan 1927

Alexey Shchusev, academician of architecture

Alexey Shchusev

Alexey Shchusev (1873-1949) "was one of the most celebrated architects of the Soviet Union, famous for Lenin's Mausoleum in Moscow. Not only a gifted designer of many prominent buildings, his career was quite unique and closely intertwined with the turbulent course of Russian and Soviet history. He was one of the very few architects who managed to rise to the top of the architectural hierarchy under the tsars and then to repeat this success under Soviet rule."

Alexey Shchusev studied under Leon Benois and Ilya Repin at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in 1891–1897. His friendship with Alexander Tamanian began then and continued for a lifetime.

Alexander Tamanian's monument and his little admirer

He Surprised the World

Alexander Tamanian has always been a talented master and a true thinker in his specialty, which rightfully earned him fame as one of the greatest architects of the Soviet Union. Tamanian was a true architect, who continued the work of the great masters of classical Armenian architecture, who put his heart and soul into his creations. The entire architectural world was amazed by his art of an architect and builder."Alexey Shchusev, Academician of Architecture
"Classic of the Armenian Architecture" for the 100th Year Celebrations of A. Tamanian, newspaper Communist, 19.05.1978. Translated from Russian by Zara Tamanian

Toros Toramanian, architectural historian, architect

Toros Toramanian, 1933

Toros Toramanian (1864-1934) was a prominent Armenian architect and architectural historian. He is considered to be "the founder of the Armenian architectural historiography." "Toramanian's scientific work paved the way for the great scholar, Josef Strzygowski, who, after a long and detailed study of Christian architecture reached the conclusion that the Armenian architecture played a significant role in the development of the Byzantine and later of West European architecture. During the Turkish–Armenian War in 1920, Toros lost a great part of his scientific study. He died in 1934 in Yerevan and was buried on the bank of Hrazdan river." (Wikipedia)

Alexander Tamanian and Toros Toramanian were longtime friends and worked closely together, travelling and studying ancient Armenian architecture, preserving and protecting countless valuable monuments of the Armenian architecture.

From the memoirs of Avetik Isahakyan, the renowned Armenian poet

Being a tireless researcher by nature, Tamanian was never satisfied with the knowledge he already had. He constantly took the time to get acquainted with newly discovered monuments of the ancient Armenian architecture. Our other outstanding architect, Toros Toramanyan - they were like brothers- opened our architectural art to Tamanian and became his guide in this area. They complemented each other and learned from each other. As the Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Antiquities of Armenia, Tamanian often went to inspect the ruins and supervised the restoration works. Once I was lucky enough to accompany on such a trip these two titans of our architecture - Tamanian and Toramanian. We went to Armavir in Armenia - one of the most ancient cities in the world, which arose from the early origins of our history. This mysterious city is covered with a fog of legends. Here, on the spot, it was necessary to resolve the issue of excavations. The Architects examined, measured, drew, talked, debated. Mysterious words were heard: Khaldi, Urartu, Armen ... And it seemed that time was receding for them and temples, towers, castles, fortified strongholds appeared before their eyes. Two great architects - what a wonderful sight - stood in front of the thousand-year-old, cuneiform stones of Armavir."

Translated from Russian by Zara Tamanian

More can be found in Russian here

Architect, architectural historian Toros Toramanian (left), architect Alexander Tamanian with his daughter Varvara (Arochka)

Partially reconstructed ruins of 7th century Zvartnots Cathedral  (Temple) in Armavir Province with Mt Ararat in the background.

The Cathedral of Zvartnots stood for 320 years before its demise in the 10th century due to a terrible earthquake. Its ruins were uncovered in late 1890s. Zvartnots literally means 'celestial angels'. Architect Toros Toramanian was in charge of the excavations and reconstruction works of Zvartnots Cathedral in the early 1900s. Zvartnots Temple became a great source of inspiration for Alexander Tamanian and his son, architect Yuliy Tamanian was the author of a few reconstruction projects at this site in the 1950s and 1960s. Since 2000, the Archaeological site of Zvartnots with ruins of the Temple, the Royal Palace and other constructions are declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This is how Zvartnots Cathedral may have looked, according to Toros Toramanian.

Zvartnots is not a ruined monument but a prolific school where every fragment and ornate stone is a centuries-old teacher…»Toros Toramanian

Translated from Russian by Zara Tamanian

Yeghishe Charents, renowned Armenian poet, translator

Yeghishe Charents

Yeghishe Charents (1897-1937) was a prominent Armenian poet, writer and public activist. He wrote about his experiences in the First World War, socialist revolution, Armenia and its people.

Fragment of the Government House, Yerevan

Poem dedicated to Alexander Tamanian

written in the night of February 20, 1936, Yerevan 

Translated from Russian by Zara Tamanian

Last moment of life flashed in Him like a candle ...
When his consciousness plunged into darkness,
Suddenly a lite colonnade
Clearly came to His vision.

He saw in his dying moment -
Short but lasting centuries -
Warm marble steps,
The towers that reached for the clouds,
The flying arrows of the avenues,
Silky grass lawns,
Tuff stone, rosier than a shimmering body,
Celestial blue of the basalt.

Clearly - to the point of insanity -
Appeared to him for the last time
The silvery glow of the fountains,
The splendour of squares and terraces ...

To a blue vision of stone and metal
His hand reached out but became heavy,
And fell onto his chest,
And then came the silence of his death..."

Yeghishe Charents, renowned Armenian poet, writer
"Classic of the Armenian Architecture" for the 100th Year Celebrations of A. Tamanian, newspaper Communist, 19.05.1978

Marietta Shaginyan, renowned Soviet writer, historian, activist

Marietta Shaginyan

Marietta Shaginyan (1888-1982) was a Soviet writer, historian and activist of Armenian descent. She was a close friend of Alexander Tamanian and his family.

The great architect Alexander Tamanian

Patriot of Armenia

With all my heart I participate in the celebration of the centenary of the birth of my dear late friend Alexander Ivanovich Tamanian, a brilliant builder and a great patriot of his beloved Armenia."

Marietta Shaginyan, famous poet
"Classic of the Armenian Architecture" for the 100th Year Celebrations of A. Tamanian, newspaper Communist, 19.05.1978. Translated from Russian by Zara Tamanian

Artsvin Grigoryan, Soviet Armenian academician architect

Artsvin Grigoryan

Artsvin Grigoryan (1935-2012) was a prominent Armenian architect, full member of the Department of the International Academy of Architecture in Moscow (2001), Doctor of Architecture (1990), Professor (1992).

Opera and Ballet Theatre, Yerevan

Stone Symphony Creator

Alexander Tamanian has adorned Yerevan with two peaks of his creativity which are masterpieces of the Armenian Soviet architecture - the Government House of the Armenian SSR and the Opera and Ballet Theater named after A. Spendiaryan. Tamanian stands pensively in the heart of the new Yerevan, carved in stone, taken from the depths of the Armenian land. People like Tamanian don't ever die. They live on with the people, live on in the creative work of their many followers."
Artsvin Grigoryan, Chairman of the Union of Architects of Armenia
"Classic of the Armenian Architecture" for the 100th Year Celebrations of A. Tamanian, newspaper Communist, 19.05.1978. Translated from Russian by Zara Tamanian

Jim Torosyan, Soviet Armenian academician architect 

Jim Torosyan 

Jim Torosyan (1926-2014) was a prominent Soviet Armenian architect, chief architect of Yerevan (1972-1982), Professor at the International Academy of Architecture, academician of the Moscow Department of the International Academy of Architecture (1983), People's Architect of the USSR (1988).

Jim Torosyan is one of the authors of the Cascade complex design. His was married to  Margo Muradyan, the famous Armenian actress, People's Artist of the USSR.

Alexander Tamanian monument with The Cascade complex in the background

Tamanian's Monument Opening Ceremony

Today is a great day for the Armenian architecture. The monument of the founder of our new architecture, Alexander Tamanian, is solemnly declared open in the center of new Yerevan. It stands at the beginning of the street that bears his name in front of the Opera House which was created by the flight of his creative thought. Together with everyone, we, his students, are especially humbled because Tamanian is an immortal teacher of new generation of the Armenian architects, a great cultural figure and the patriarch of the Armenian culture."

Jim Torosyan, Soviet Armenian academician architect
Extract from speech at the opening of the Tamanyan Monument, Armenpress, 1974. Translated from Russian by Zara Tamanian

Zara and Gagik Tamanian will be very happy to hear from you and can be contacted via email:

The beautiful views of Yerevan, Opera theatre and Mount Ararat


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