A genius from the Music Cradle “Shusha”

A prominent composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli (1885–1948) is a genius artist who was the founder of many novelties in the Islamic world and the Muslim East. In the Muslim East, he was the founder of novel, choir, chamber, suite, overture, vocal, cantata, aria and other professional music genres, and his colorful works are loved all over the world more than a century.

In 1908, he created the first opera in the Muslim East — “Leyli and Majnun” — based on the same poem by great Azerbaijani poet Mohammad Fuzuli. He became the author of “Sheykh Sanan” in 1909, and 4 operas consisting of author music based on Azerbaijani Mugham in 1910–1915: “Rustam and Zohrab”, “Shah Abbas and Khurshud Banu “, “Asli and Karam”, “Harun and Leyla”.

The opera entitled “Koroghlu” (1936) is a masterpiece of Uzeyir Hajibeyli. For this masterpiece he was rewarded the highest prize of the former USSR — “Stalin” in 1941.

In total, he is the author of 7 operas and 3 operettas. “A husband and wife” (1909), “If not that one, then this one” (O olmasin bu olsun) (1910) and “Arshin mal alan” (1903) as the first National Film samples are loved and watched in many countries of the world today. He wrote the music of the hymn of the first Democratic Republic in the East — the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which existed in 1918–1920, and today this is the official national anthem of Azerbaijan.

U. Hajibeyli got his first musical education in one of the most important cultural centres of Azerbaijan — Shusha which is called “Small Paris”, “The art temple of Caucasus”, The cradle of Azerbaijani music”, “Conservatory of the South Caucasus” and where he had spent all his childhood and youth.

For a long time, his father Abdulhuseyn Bey was the secretary of Khurshidbanu Natavan, a famous Azerbaijani poetess, public figure, the daughter of Karabakh Khan, and his mother Shirin khanum has been brought up in the house of Khan’s daughter — Natavan.

Uzeyir himself was a beloved one of this house and the Khan’s daughter since childhood, where he saw famous writers and artists of that time, learned the secrets of art from them and got Mugham classes.

At the age of 13, he starred in the play “Leyli and Majnun”, an episode from the love Epos” staged by prominent writer and playwright Abdurrahim Bey Hagverdiyev and famous singer Jabbar Garyagdioglu in 1897, sang in the choir, graduated from the two-year Russian-tatar school, then studied at the Teachers ‘ Seminary in Gori for 5 years, gained the skills to perform violin, cello and wind instruments.

During the next four years, he was engaged in teaching activities in schools in Karabakh and Baku, and many articles by him were published in newspapers and magazines. Later, he studied music in Moscow with the financial support of his friend and brother-in-law -Muslim Magomayev. In 1914–1918 he was the founder and editor of “Yeni igbal “newspaper, then the editor of the official “Azerbaijan” newspaper of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. He went down in history as the founding head of the first music school, the Union of composers of Azerbaijan, the Institute of Art and the Conservatory.

U.Hajibeyli, who lived 63 years, has also been known as a prominent publicist, playwright, teacher, editor, public figure, and the most brilliant researcher in the history of Azerbaijani and Eastern music art. His rich music, literary, scientific and pedagogical heritage is the spiritual wealth of Azerbaijan.

The 100th anniversary of Uzeyir Hajibeyli was solemnly celebrated by UNESCO in 1985.

Every year an international music festival named after the great composer is held in Azerbaijan. The festival is attended by well-known musicians from all over the world visiting Azerbaijan.

Haji Narimanoghlu

Translator of the article — Maryam Samadova

Azerbaijan State Translation Centre