New York raises $26k in 24 hours for grieving composer

New York raises $26k in 24 hours for grieving composer


norman lebrecht

May 13, 2018

Columbia University music department has put up a gofundme site on behalf of the composer Mary Kouyoumdjian, who has suffered the tragic loss of her composer fiancé, Matt Marks.

In just 24 hours, the site has racked up $26,495, with donations coming in from many leading names in contemporary music.

You can donate here.

Some more background on Matt’s life and work here.



  • Me! says:

    I don’t get it – they wanted $5k for any “emergency expenses “ she may have, have $28k so far and yet no mention of them having a child, as his fiancé (versus his parents) she’s not paying for his funeral or burial- maybe his half of the rent if they lived together (?) but it doesn’t say that – it’s just a hand extended and windfall it seems certainly without saying more – and saying it is on behalf of music dept odd – if Columbia cares so much she’s their employee use their emergency funds

  • Jaime Herrera says:

    I don’t care if they raise 100 million for expenses. My question is, didn’t this guy have a life insurance policy? It would be irresponsible not to have one…..

  • AKP says:

    I don”t understand why either of you are so bothered by people choosing to give their own money to whichever cause they wish to. It also seem rather distasteful to criticise someone for not having life insurance particularly as you don’t know if he did or not.

    • Me! says:

      I guess what s/he is saying is if he had life insurance and made his fiancée beneficiary there would be no need to beg widely for $ “in case” she faces an “unexpected emergency “ (!!!- the height of ridiculousness, an independent working woman loses a potential expected husband and begs in advance for a nest egg “in case” she should need it for “the unexpected “). I care bc throwing $ to dumb causes means that $ won’t/isn’t going to a REAL NEED, there are plenty of better uses for $30k of philanthropy (from a host of medical research needs, to giving poor and/or sick people on food stamps supplemental $ to buy healthy sufficient food, to paying for a cat or dog’s healthcare or sanctuary to a million superior causes than a Columbia university employee getting $ just in case she needs it bc her boyfriend died (= all the info that was given, so she will keep all the $ regardless)- daft

      • William Lang says:

        fuck you.

        • AKP says:

          Fuck you was in my mind when I replied to the first two posters. I thought I would try a reasoned argument but given how deeply unpleasant people they appear to be, maybe I should have gone with my first instinct.

      • Anita says:

        Your comments could not be more offensive.
        Nobody begged for anything. I believe that people donated because it’s all they can do to show their love and empathy for their friend after this sudden death of her fiance.
        To think otherwise is just twisted.

        • Me! says:

          Giving $ is not all one can do to show love and empathy- THAT is twisted, extremely so. Saying I love you, giving a hug, taking her out or in for a shared meal, countless true ways to show love and empathy- throwing cash is warped. As to the FU man, there’s no flagging a comment but what a j ass

          • Anita says:

            No. All of the people who donated are good friends of the couple and they were shocked at Matt’s death. Of course they will come through with all of the suggestions that you made, in time,when it’s right. But this is what they did now,because they could, and it’s a gesture of caring, too.

      • Sam says:

        Why is this vile comment criticizing a grieving widow not deleted? There is no reason for it to be allowed to stay on this widely read website.

      • A says:

        Some of you are just terrible people. What in the world happened to compassion? Keep your stupid, judgmental and fundamentally misguided comments to yourselves please.

        • norman lebrecht says:

          Some of these comments are profoundly unpleasant. However, they do not abuse the deceased or his loved ones and, under site rules, have been allowed to stand. We are open to submissions as to whether these rules ought to be tightened.

          • Bruce says:

            I, for one, appreciate the rules as they are. If people really wish to show the world what kind of person they are, they should be allowed to do so.

            The only suggestion I would have, and it’s probably not really enforceable, would be to require people to post under their real names.

          • Siobhan Cleary says:

            Whatever it takes Norman. Change the rules or moderate more judiciously. These comments are clearly insensitive and hurtful and intended to be so. It is a small community and people are grieving. Someone is in charge of moderating the comments… is it so difficult to do the job with more sensitivity and less callousness?

          • norman lebrecht says:

            You’ve no idea how difficult it is to maintain a balance of free speech and civil discussion. We do our best. We will do better.

          • Me! says:

            The comments, at least by me, were in no way meant to be hurtful to the deceased or his fiancée and to an honest and wise person that would be clear- the comments attacking me as vile, inhuman and evil were clearly abusive deranged and meant to be mean- certainly hurtful. To raise questions about fundraising choices on a fundraising post is basic perfectly fine- attacking me ad nauseum and ad hominem is what you should be railing against including out of line fuck you comment. I suggested donating to his rare illness as a better use of such a large amount of $ eg – ugh, enough with the mob imbecility and misspeak

      • Tiredofitalll says:

        Ya’ll are a nasty lot. Empathy is a human attribute. Get some.

      • R says:

        Absurd comments – thanks for telling the community how to spend their money. Here is another idea, go out and earn enough so you can help “all” the causes in the world you find “worthy”. In the mean time, we stand by Mary.

        • Me! says:

          Oy vey. Commenting on how a community spends its $ is an ideal use of public comments. As you point out (apparently with no real comprehension) one person will not have the funds, no matter how hard s/he works, to ensure all people have sufficient nutrition and medicine, cats can live and illnesses are treatable – your conclusion, that $ should therefore be given en mass to someone with no pressing need or inability to meet one and suggesting the giving impulse for your finite giving funds be redirected is cause for vitriolic personal insults are both unsound and antisocial. As to the posting rules I would suggest profanity, particularly directed at other posters not be allowed (ie a post as above of “fuck you” crosses most posting guidelines as would similar profanities)

          • Hopeful for kindness says:

            They shared a home and were four months away from their wedding. Mary is a composer pursing a degree and the Columbia community choose to help her make the transition easier. She’ll no doubt pay a chunk of that donation back against the tax burden and then have enough to grieve while not worrying how to make the rent they were splitting right away. then maybe she can put down first last and security for a new place so she can heal and move on. It’s humane, driven by compassion. For the personal expense and human hours Mary and Mark devoted to New Music Gathering alone, the money has been earned twice over.

          • Me! says:

            That was the only thing that I could think of too, shared rent, although his estate will cover it (aws was rather successful and he was established, not early 20s, yet plea was specifically for future unknown needs- and was for 5k not 35k, which is why I suggested excess go to research for treatments and diagnosis of his hht rare disease eg. No tax is paid on gifts received so no tax burden on $35k, although wording was odd (as if $ to be given to Columbia music dept (or women there who set up plea) who would pay her as if taxable salary— a fine point I didn’t bother going into but an educated readership versus mob thought would have raised and discussed, much sooner than now as well, so if an issue would have been fixed- but it’s all blindness and any points raised “evil”

  • Aghast. says:

    The sheer heartlessness of these comments is…pretty typical of this page, so never mind.

  • D W says:

    Some of these comments are proof how heartless some human beings can be. I’m personal friends with Matt and Mary and this has been one of the darkest weekends for the entire new music community. The university set up a GoFundMe to help out Mary if she needed any financial help during this time, and Matt and Mary are so beloved in our community that so many people donated and it skyrocketed.

    You comment people are evil and have no hearts.

  • R says:

    The fund was set up without Mary’s knowledge or consent – the amount it raises is totally outside of the control of Mary and was already in the five-figures before she even knew it existed.

  • Me! says:

    You people are really idiots with misplaced loyalty- you shout “evil,” “no empathy,” deeply nasty when YOU are calling a living person evil, “heartless “ telling “F you “ for simply suggesting that fairly significant funds ($30k) go to pressing needs in our world now rather than to a woman who “might need it” at some point because her expected husband died. What imbecility says someone suggesting funds go to medical research or needy cats or the wanting poor is evil, heartless and lacking empathy – and with such vitriolic mob hate. Look at yourselves. This was a funding appeal spread publicly and asking to be shared widely- you will go outside your bubble if you do that. Ps 400 close friends are an impossiblity. Maybe giving to the cause of his death in his fiancée (and his!) honor was something to consider (be It suicide, drugs, heart, aneurysm any of the cause will have a need for funding help that would show her you care and are moved and would seem more reasonable than raising $ for an employed woman with bright future prospects and commissions

    • AKP says:

      You would have a point except you are not commenting on how a community spends its money. You are commenting on how individuals spend their money. You must realise that your comments are heartless, inappropriate and hurtful to those who know the couple who may read them here. And if you don’t then that says much about you. Nasty and lacking in empathy seem pretty accurate.
      As for profanity – what you write is much more offensive to me and I assume to many of the others here than a bit of well placed Anglo-Saxon. Surely as a troll, you must be used to “mob hate” – is that not what you thrive on?

    • Anita says:


      Stop flinging around your insults.

      Realize that you are commenting on private people’s choice to support their friend/acquaintance. They will do that in whatever way they want to, whenever they want to. It has nothing to do with you.

      Just stop. Your critical comments have contributed nothing positive to these already sad few days.

      Thank you in advance.

  • Me! says:

    You all seem to forget this is a public request for $, a community is made up of individuals (DUH) and my comment is just that – piling on me and rankly repeatedly nauseatingly and inaccurately insulting my humanity and person for suggesting you donate to a NEedy cause is what doesn’t understand public fundraising requests and discussion- it is close minded and censorship driven (except for crude profanities/raw rank insults (“you are evil”) to a Single poster by a puffed up mob of morons – it’s like the masses of pedophiles who post on here rabidly re child molestation charges – very specific pockets of readership with zero self awareness or civility or sense

  • AKP says:

    Is there an official definition of “lost it”? Zero-self awareness? Pot,kettle… Masses of pedophiles? – must have missed them. Humanity – you don’t have any. There – an even bigger insult. You use some big words, often incorrectly, but you still seem incapable of understanding that people have the right to spend their own money how they see fit. We are not talking about how a council or a government spends public funds. That would be fair comment.
    I suppose I should just leave you alone to your troll-like existence in a dark cave of self-loathing and isolation but not while you continue to lash out at people, who may be hurting because of a very sad loss.

    • Me! says:

      You are a bully, and incapable of taking criticism.

      • Me! says:

        Just to be clear, helping guide an ummah (or gemeinshaft?), ie a grouping of individuals collectively doing something (donating to those not in need) is an ideal use of a blog comment. We’re not only called upon to discuss government decisions and actions- what a warped view.

  • Anita says:

    Done with this.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Done here as well. Let everyone just remember that a person died who contributed a great deal to his art and community and his partner and friends are grieving.

      The rest is just noise.

    • AKP says:

      Me too. And wish Me was too. It’s a terrible shame that any friends of the couple are having to read the rather vile, cowardly and increasingly bizarre comments here rather than be allowed to grieve for a life lost too young and offer support for those close left behind in any way they wish.

  • John Borstlap says:

    It’s awful…. composers going-down all around. Is it the profession?

  • Me! says:

    Ok, I was right, unsurprisingly re the following: he died of a rare medical illness that needs funding (HHT); his sister and parents have the “unexpected expense” of arranging and deciding re his remains. I still suggest donating $30k to hht research would have honored him and anyone who loved him more purely, productively, wisely and generously than a bizarre needless collection for his partner for no known need. But instead I was harangued instead of listened to and learned from- because people fund a man making Mac and cheese (?- the one they raised $90k to to make a dinner of Mac & cheese or potato salad whatever it was) rather than giving that extra $ of theirs to a superior cause- people!

  • Bruce says:

    Claims by “ME!”, that people expressing their opinions about his opinions equals censorship, should possibly be weighed against this form of censorship:

    **alleged censorship, since someone is sure to claim there is not an iota of proof etc. etc.

  • Ron says:

    To the idiot that made a comment about life insurance…he had a genetic condition which was known from childhood. He probably was not insurable. Think before commenting