Winter 1997 (5.4)
Music Runs in
Musical Families of Azerbaijan
One of the
distinguishing characteristics about Azerbaijani music is that
so many families have made major contributions to the field.
In fact, it's not an exaggeration to suggest that the sound of
Azerbaijani music today with its synthesis of eastern and western
elements would not have occurred outside of the phenomena of
musical families, starting with the founder of composed music,
The following is a brief sketch of some of the most famous musical
Roots in Karabakh
Shusha, a small city
in the western region of Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region,
has long been considered one of the music centers of Azerbaijan.
Sometimes, it is called "the Conservatory of the Caucasus."
And this is another reason why the occupation of Shusha by Armenian
military forces since 1992 has been particularly painful. Shusha
is viewed as
a cultural center of art, literature and especially music. Therefore,
when people had to flee in the face of aggressive hostile troops,
they left behind more than devasted homes and communities. Their
musical environment was also one of the casualties of war. Many
outstanding musical families living in Baku trace their origins
to this region. In fact, there's an expression, "If you
can't sing, you're not from Karabakh."
The environment of Shusha contributed greatly to the professional
formation of three major families who form the cornerstone of
composed music in Azerbaijan - the Hajibeyovs, Aliverdibeyovs
is called the "Father of Classical Music" in Azerbaijan.
is so great that a 300-page volume entitled "The Encyclopedia
of Uzeyir Hajibeyov " has been published (1996). Essentially,
every musician in Azerbaijan has directly benefitted from his
Hajibeyov was involved in the immense philosophical struggles
that were going on at the beginning of the 20th century when
intellectuals and musicians were fiercely debating the future
direction of Azerbaijani music. Some wanted to cling to traditional
modal music; while others were ready to discard the past and
go on to embrace European music.
By synthesizing these two
trends in his first opera -"Leyli and Majnun" (1908)
- he set a precedent that has continued for nearly a century
already. He was the first to produce an exotic synthesis by blending
eastern traditional elements (melody, mode and instruments) with
western style and form (opera, and to which other composers later
added symphony, ballet, concerto and chamber orchestra, jazz,
He was one of the advocates for composed music and insisted,
contrary to the common belief, that mugam music could, indeed,
be set down in note form.
Hajibeyov is deeply loved in Azerbaijan. He is remembered most
for his famous opera," Koroglu" (Blind Man's Son, 1937)
and his musical comedy "Arshin Mal Alan" (The Cloth
Peddler, 1913), which challenged social customs about the veiling
of women and which has been made into a movie on five occasions.
Hajibeyov was involved with the establishment of the Music Conservatory,
the Academy of Science, the Folk Instruments Ensemble and many
other fundamental institutions that provide the foundation for
a formal music infrastructure in Azerbaijan. He set forth the
basic principles of Azerbaijani modal music (mugam) in his book,
"The Basis of Folk Music in Azerbaijan" (1945). This
text is also available in English. He was the recipient of the
highest artistic awards, including the first Azerbaijani musician
to be honored "People's Artist of the USSR."
Zulfugar Hajibeyov (1884-1950) was Uzeyir's brother. He
was also a composer and was actively involved in establishing
the Music Comedy Theater. He is remembered for composing the
opera "Ashug Garib" (1916).
Jeyhun Hajibeyov (1891-1962) was Uzeyir's younger brother
and a famous publicist, journalist and translator. Because he
seriously opposed the establishment of Soviet power in Azerbaijan,
he had to flee to France when the Soviet government was established
in 1920. Jeyhun assisted Uzeyir in writing the opera " Leyli
and Majnun," though his involvement was not always acknowledged
because of his earlier political affiliations.
Soltan Hajibeyov (1919-1974) was the son of Ismayil Hajibeyov,
Uzeyir 's uncle. Soltan was a composer who contributed greatly
to the formation of national symphonic music of Azerbaijan. He
is remembered for such works as "Caravan," "Overture"
and "Concerto." Soltan served as rector of Azerbaijan
State Conservatory (now Baku Music Academy) from 1969 to 1974.
Ismayil Hajibeyov (19 49- ) is Soltan's son and represents
the third generation of the Hajibeyov family. Ismayil works in
modern music, known in Azerbaijan as "yeni musiqi"
(new music). He is an assistant professor of composition in the
Academy of Music.
Niyazi Hajibeyov (1912-1984), son of Zulfugar Hajibeyov,
was known simply by his first name Niyazi. He directed the Symphony
Orchestra for about 40 years and was deeply loved and respected
for his brilliant conducting and for his efforts to make Azerbaijani music
known throughout the Soviet Union and beyond. Dmitri Shostakovich
observed that Niyazi was the first world-renowned conductor of
the Soviet East. Niyazi was the composer of the symphonic mugam
"Rast" (1956) , the opera "Khosro and Shirin"
(1940) and the ballet "Chitra," for which he was awarded
the Nehru prize (1971) . He was also honored as "People's
Artist of the USSR."
(1850-1953) was Uzeyir Hajibeyov's uncle on his mother's side.
He was Uzeyir's first music teacher. Although Aghalar was an
engineer, he devoted his entire life to music. He played tar
extremely well and formally studied mugam. He wrote the first
book about the music history of Azerbaijan.
Kazim and Nazim Aliverdibeyov, Aghalar 's sons,
continued along their father's path. Nazim (1926-1985) was a
well-known composer and teacher. He is especially remembered
for writing "Organ Fantasy" based on Bayati-Shiraz
Mugam. Kazim (1934-) is a conductor.
Badal Badalbeyli (1875-1932) and Uzeyir
Hajibeyov were cousins since their mothers were sisters. The
musical tradition of this family began with Badal and his brother
Ahmad. Badal taught music and performed mugam operas.
Ahmad Badalbeyli (1884-1954), an opera singer, is known
by the name Ahmad Aghdamski. He was one of the first vocalists
to perform female roles because Muslim women were not permitted
to perform publicly at that time.
Afrasiyab and Shamsi Badalbeyli,
Badal's sons, contributed to the development of music theater
in Azerbaijan. Afrasiyab (1907-1976) wrote the first ballet "Qiz
Qalasi" (Maiden's Tower, 1940). Shamsi (1911-1986) directed
Azerbaijani operas and operettas.
Farhad Badalbeyli (1947-), Shamsi's son, is currently
rector of the Baku Music Academy. He has won a number of international
piano competitions, taking third place at the Smetana International
Music Competition in 1967 and first place at the J. Vianna de
la Motta International Music Competition in Lisbon, Portugal,
in 1968. His daughter is already an accomplished pianist who
studies at the Bul-bul Music School.
(Zulfi) Adigozalov (1898-1963) was a famous performer of folk music.
His sons are Vasif Adigozal (1935-) and Rauf Adigozalov
(194 0-). Vasif is a well-known composer who writes music
for piano, symphony and chorus. Rauf is a popular singer and
Yalchin Adigozalov (1959-) is Vasif's son and represents
the third gene ration of Adigozalovs. Yalchin directed the Azerbaijan
State Symphonic Orchestra for the 1997 recording of "Classical
Music of Azerbaijan," a collection of six CDs which was
by Amoco and produced by Azerbaijan International. He has toured
in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Austria, Hungary and Turkey.
In 1993, he was named "Best Conductor of the Year"
Zohrab Adigozalzade (1940-) and his two sons, Farid
(1964-) and Murad (1973-), are all three talented pianists.
Farid won the Eighth Caucasian piano competition. Murad is a
post graduate student at the Munich Conservatory (Germany) and
was named "Best Pianist of the Year" in 1996 in Azerbaijan.
(1924-), a professor at the Academy of Music, is most famous
for his very popular musical comedy "Ulduz." His sons,
Arzu and Aiyub, are pianists and winners of international
(1875-1928) was a famous tar player and singer. He performed
in some of the mugam operas of Uzeyir Hajibeyov. He was the composer
of the opera "Seyfelmulk" and the operetta "Honest
Fikrat Amirov (19 22 -1984), Mashadi Jamil's son,
created a new genre called symphonic mugam. His most famous works
include "Shur," "Kurd Afshari," "Gulustan
Bayati -Shiraz," "Nizami" and the ballet
"Arabian Nights" He was honored as "People's
Artist of the USSR."
Jamil Amirov (1957-) is Fikrat's son and a third generation
musician excelling both as a performer and composer.
Ahmad Bakikhanov ( 1892-1973 ) was one of the distinguished
tar players. His residence is now home to his collection of Folk
Instruments which is opened to the public.
Tofig Bakikhanov ( 1930-), Ahmad's son, is a composer
and professor at the Academy of Music. He is remembered for his
short ballet, called "Caspian Ballad."
Majid Behbudov (1870-1945) was a famous khanande (singer
of mugams). He was especially adept at singing segah, shustar
and chargah mugams. In 1914, he produced a record with the Riga
Grammaphone Company in Latvia. He gave concerts in Tabriz, Istanbul
Rashid Behbudov (1915-1989) was Majid's son. Rashid was
considered one of the greatest popular singers of the 20th century
in Azerbaijan. He was famous for singing love songs, particularly
those composed by Tofig Guliyev. His stardom began with
the role of Askar, the rich merchant who disguises himself as
a cloth merchant, in the 1945 movie version of Hajibeyov's music
comedy " Arshin Mal Alan." Rashid toured many
countries and knew more than 50 songs in foreign languages. He
created the "Song Theater" in Baku which is named in
Rashida, a singer, is the daughter of Rashid and a member
of the third generation.
Bulbul (1897-1961), whose real name is Murtuza Mammadov,
holds a special place in the hearts of Azerbaijani musicians.
"Bul-bul" means "nightingale," the bird credited
with the most melodic song. Bul-bul founded the professional
school of vocal singing. He is closely associated with the role
of "Koroglu" (Blind Man's Son, 1937) in Uzeyir Hajibeyov's
opera by the same name for which he was honored as "People's
Artist of the USSR" in 1938.
This year, 1997, marked Bul-bul's 100th Jubilee. In honor of
the occasion, the first "International Bul-bul Vocal Competition"
was established. The contest lasted two weeks and 68 vocalists
Polad Bulbul-oglu (1945-), Bul-bul's son, was one of the
most famous singers of popular music in the former Soviet Union.
He is also a talented composer and currently has been assigned
as Minister of Culture in Azerbaijan.
Gara Garayev (1918-1982), (spelled via Russian as
Kara Karayev) a student of Shostakovich, based his music on the
techniques established by Uzeyir Hajibeyov. He studied at the
Moscow and Leningrad Conservatories. His world-famous ballets
include "Seven Beauties" (1952), "The Path
of Thunder" (1958), the symphonic picture "Don
Quixote" and the symphonic poem "Leyli and Majnun."
He was awarded "People's Artist of the USSR."
Faraj Garayev (1943-), Gara Garayev's son, is a representative
of vanguard music and heads the "Yeni Musiqi" (New
Music) Society of Azerbaijan. Among his earlier works are Sonata
and the ballet "Shadows of Gobustan" (1969).
Sisters-Fidan and Khuraman (in Russian, spelled
Kasimova)-are both brilliant opera sopranos--a rare combination.
Fidan Gasimova (1957-) won the gold medal at the International
Viotti Competition in Italy in 1977. In 1986, she was named "People's
Artist of the Soviet Union." She was also one of two Soviet
women listed in a book entitled "The Greatest 100 Women
in the World" (The other was Valentina Tereshkova, the first
Soviet woman cosmonaut).
Khuraman Gasimova won the first prize at the Maria Callas
International Competition in Athens (1981) and placed second
at the Tschaikovsky International Competition in Moscow (1982).
Although they used to live and teach in Turkey and still visit
regularly, they have returned to Azerbaijan where they have plans
to establish a specialized school related to opera. A new non-profit
foundation has been established--Kasimova Sister's Foundation
(1998). They actively take part in concerts throughout the world.
||Ramiz Guliyev (1947-) is director of the Folk Instrument department
of the Academy of Music and an extraordinarily superb tar player
perhaps, the greatest Azerbaijan has ever known. He tours abroad
quite frequently these days. He has written several books on
the technique of tar playing.
Ayyub Guliyev (19 87 -) is Ramiz' son who is still
a young student. In October 1997, he won the first prize in the
week-long 1997 Tar Competition at the Academy of Music. Often
he and his father perform together at some of the most prestigious
concerts in Baku. In June 1997, Mstislav Rostroprovich, the world
famous cello player, returned to the city of his birth (Baku)
to celebrate his 70th birthday. Ramiz and Ayyub were invited
to play at his Jubilee concert and then were invited to follow
the cellist to Moscow to perform again at birthday celebrations
Composer Jovdat Hajiyev
and his son Ismayil, a conductor.
Jovdat Hajiyev (1917-), a student of Shostakovich,
wrote the first symphony in Azerbaijan, "Socialist Azerbaijan"
(1936). His other works include the symphonic poem, "Letter
to Siberia" (1937) based on a famous poem by Pushkin, "Azerbaijan
Suite for Symphony Orchestra," "Fugues for String Quarter."
Together with Gara Garayev, he wrote the opera, "Aina"
(1939) and "Vatan" (Motherland, 1945). He was deeply
involved with organizing higher musical education and directing
the Azerbaijan Conservatory of Music. Jovdat's wife, Amina
Dilbazi, was famous as a ballerina.
Their sons, Ismayil (1949-) and Mikayil (1951-)
are both musicians. Ismayil is a conductor. Mikayil is a violinist.
Muslim Magomayev (1885-1937) was a contemporary of Uzeyir
Hajibeyov and deeply involved in document ing Azerbaijani folksongs
throughout the countryside. Muslim is remembered most for his
two outstanding operas-"Shah
and "Nargiz" (1935).
Muslim Magomayev (1942-), grandson of the composer with
the same name, was one of the most famous pop music stars in
the former Soviet Union. He lives in Moscow.
Vagif Mustafazade (1940-1979) was one of the driving forces in th
eearly jazz movement in the 1960s and 70s. His mother, Ziver
( 1915-1996 ), was a piano teacher. Vagif became a brilliant
jazz pianist and initiated the movement of mugam jazz. He took
first place at the 8th International Jazz Festival of Composers
in Monaco in 1978.
Lala Mustafazade, Vagif's daughter by
his first marriage, is a classical pianist. She won first prize
in the classical music competition in Epinal, France, in 1991.
She now lives in France.
Zadeh, Vagif's daughter by his second marriage,
is, perhaps, the most well-known Azerbaijani performer outside
of Azerbaijan. She is a
jazz pianist-vocalist and tours widely through Europe
and the Middle East. She has produced five CDs on the Sony
The last one, released in 1997, is called
"Jazziza," a pet name given to her by her father.
She currently lives in Germany.
is a concert violinist who studies at the esteemed Purcell School
of Music in London. Nasrin's repertoire includes Paganini, Tchaikovsky,
Handel, Boccherini, Thad Jones and Azerbaijani composers Hajibeyov,
Garayev, Malikov and Niyazi.
Her mother Sadagat Mammadova
and her father Shamil Rashidov are both violinists. Nasrin's
mother accompanies her on the piano during her concerts. Her
father performs with the Cairo Symphony in Egypt.
The idea for this article about
Musical Families was suggested by Farhad Badalbeyli, an international
award-winning pianist and rector of Baku's Academy of Music.
He is a descendant of Uzeyir Hajibeyov as his great grandmother
was sister to Hajibeyov's mother. Members of Farhad's family
have been outstanding professional musicians for four generations.
Farah Aliyeva, the author of this article, is a professor
at the Academy of Music in Baku.
(5.4) Winter 1997
© Azerbaijan International 1997. All Rights Reserved.
© Azerbaijan International.
Copyright 2001. All rights reserved.