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Music in Time of War – Debussy/Komitas

Music in Time of War – Debussy/Komitas


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About the album

Music in Time of War, the new double-album from pianist Kirill Gerstein, places the music of Komitas, pioneer of ethnomusi- cology and founder of the Armenian national school of music, alongside that of Claude Debussy, a seminal composer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who held a deep admiration of Komitas’s music. Both composers were profoundly affected by the implosion of their worlds – Komitas by the Armenian Genocide, Debussy by the First World War – and their music reflects a close emotional alignment. Music in Time of War grew from Gerstein’s fascination with music’s power to reflect a narrative. The album consists of a double CD which is accompanied by a high quality hardcover book of 172 pages in the format 30x30x2.5cm, containing a series of illustrations and detailed essays in three languages (English-German-French) commissioned by the pianist. 

Gerstein pairs Debussy’s 12 Études from 1915 and Komitas’s Armenian Dances for piano, composed the following year, and includes a selection of Debussy’s late piano pieces composed to raise funds for the war. The artists featured on the album include Armenian soprano Ruzan Mantashyan, and pianists Thomas Adès and Katia Skanavi – they join Gerstein in a selection of works for voice and piano, piano four hands as well as for two pianos. Accompanying the recording are four in-depth essays from historians Annette Becker and Khatchig Mouradian, musicologist Artur Avanesov and composer Heinz Holliger, that explore the impact of war and genocide on society, and the reaction of artists to such events. These essays give socio-historical context to the music of Debussy and Komitas, and their response to creating in times of catastrophe.

Music in Time of War epitomizes both Kirill Gerstein‘s creative curiosity and his insightful approach to curating projects. The album will be released as a double CD including the high-quality 172-page hardcover book on May 3rd by myrios classics.


Content (2 CDs)


Claude Debussy

12 Études

Chansons de Bilitis

6 Épigraphes antiques for piano four hands

Noël des enfants qui n‘ont plus de maisons

Late piano pieces

En blanc et noir for two pianos


Komitas Vardapet

Armenian Dances for piano

Armenian Songs





Kirill Gerstein, Katia Skanavi, Thomas Adès piano

Ruzan Mantashyan soprano


Recording Information

Original Recording Format: DXD 352.8kHz / 24Bit

2 CD Audio, 121:21

This recording is also available as hi res download.