Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Remembering Zabelle Haroutunian Chalian 1917-2010

Remembering Zabelle Haroutunian Chalian, the daughter of Yesayi [Kurtgusian] Haroutunian (Grandma Yepros [Kurtgusian] Haroutunian Bilezikian's brother).  Zabelle left us on 10/24/2010.

l. to r.  Yesayi Haroutunian, Zabelle Haroutunian (Chalian), Makrouhi Haroutunian
 in Newton, Massachusetts, circa 1920.
 Photo courtesy of Ben Haroutunian

Zabelle Haroutunian Chalian (January 22, 1917-October 24,  2010) was my aunt, the daughter of my Grandma Yepros's older brother Yesayi.  Born on Edinboro Street in Newtonville, Massachusetts, she was my father Peter's favorite cousin, a beautiful and kind woman, a well-known concert pianist on the west coast, a woman to be admired.  The year before my father died, she came to Newtonville to visit for a month.  In February of 2009, Amaras Arts Alliance sponsored a concert featuring Zabelle Haroutunian Chalian at the Steinway Piano in her cousin Peter's living room at the Bilezikian family homestead, 474 Lowell Avenue in Newtonville, Massachusetts.  Zabelle performed on a Steinway Piano for nearly an hour  -- playing pieces by Chopin,  Beethoven, and several of her own compositions . . . an incredible feat of memory and skill, of endurance and passion.  She was playing for the gathered guests (over 30 in number) and for Peter, who she played for every day of her visit, and every day after her visit over the telephone from her home in Colorado. Peter and Zabelle, at the time of her visit to Newtonville, were both well into their 90's; they remained friends to the end.

left: Bethel Bilezikian Charkoudian introduces her aunt, Zabelle Haroutunian Chalian, in her father's living room.
Tatoul Badalian films the concert while the audience listens  with rapt attention.
Auntie Zabelle introduces her very own compostions that she is about to perform.
Cousins forever!
Auntie Zabelle graciously accepts bouquets of appreciation at the end of her concert.
Photos of the concert by Karoun Charkoudian, Peter's granddaughter, Zabelle's grand niece.

Front page article by Nancy Kalajian covering  Zabelle's concert in the Armenian Mirror Spectator

"On a cold and rainy evening in February, folks found warmth and camaraderie at the home of Peter Bilezikian of Newtonville, MA. Smiling faces entered the living room, greeting Peter with hugs and kisses. They had come to hear a piano concert by once well known west coast concert pianist Zabelle Hartounian Chalian, Peter's first cousin of 92 years. Best friend and 1st cousin Peter, born in Marash, Turkey, met Zabelle in Newtonville, when he first arrived in the United States in 1921 having survived the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
The Thursday soiree sponsored by Amaras Arts Alliance welcomed an audience numbering upwards of 30 people ages 9 to 96, who heard compositions played on a Steinway piano, among them a Chopin Nocturne, a movement from the Beethoven Appasionata Sonata, and two unpublished pieces composed by Zabelle Chalian herself. The audience expressed its admiration for Zabelle's music with a standing ovation.
Cass Flowers and Amaras Arts Alliance presented Zabelle with large bouquets of flower. Visiting for three weeks, 92 year old Zabelle Hartounian Chalian returns home at the end of February, hopefully to prepare for another piano concert for her admirers in her now hometown of Arvata, Colorado. Zapaharoutioun, Zabelle!"  The above article was written by Bethel Bilezikian Charkoudian & Nairi Badalian and appeared in the Armenian Weekly on Saturday, April 18, 2009.


  1. She was so sweet! In the 1920 photo are they having a picnic outside on an oriental rug?

  2. Yes, they are picnicking on an oriental rug! Why choose a blanket when you can sit on oriental rugs!