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Literature Music / Fine arts / Architecture / Theatre & Cinema  / Rugs / Museums


Azerbaijani music was developing through the centuries. The traces of ancient music of Azerbaijan were found in a number of monuments, excavated in time of archeological digs, as well as in rock carvings of Gobustan (18-3 millennium B.C) and Gemigaya (3-1 millennium B.C). Kitabi Dede Gorgud (8th century), creative works of Nizami, Fizuli provide full coverage of medieval music art, music genres and music instruments. The records of such prominent medieval scientists of Azerbaijan as Sefiaddin Urmevi (18 century), Abdulgadir Maragai (17 century), Mir Movsum Nevvab (19 century) pointed out the highly developed art and culture of music and mastery performance and cited theoretical issues of music in medieval Azerbaijan.

The first written monument of our country epos Kitabi Dede Gorgut , containing several chapters, related to music and citing the names of different musical instruments, testifies that out music art possesses ancient history.


The first book on music dates back to the 13th century. Two prominent scientists and musicians of Azerbaijan Sefieddin Urmevi (1217-1294) and Abdulqadir Maraghai made a great contribution to the development of theory of Near and Middle Eastern music in the 13-15th centuries. Booklets Kitabi el-Edvar and Seferiyye by Urmevi established the science of music of Azerbaijan and laid the foundation for its further development. Urmevi entered the history of Azerbaijan as the founder of the school "System" and tabulator science. The system musical notation, created by Urmevi, was the most perfect system of that period.

Booklets that followed the creative works of Maragai, did not deal with complex theoretical problems of the theory of Eastern music or in case they dealt, they repeated those of Urmevi, just interpreting them in different ways. The main advantage of these booklets was their practical importance. The creative works of that period include the booklet Negavetil Edvar by the younger son of Maraghai Abdulaziz Chelebi and Megasid el-Edvar by his grandson Mahmud Chelebi.

A booklet "About Music" by Mirza Bey is one of the interesting works, created in South Azerbaijan in early 17th century. 


Beginning in late 19th century music meetings, associations and circles (by Mahmud Agha in Shamakhy, Kharrat oghly , Mir Movsum Nevvab in Shusha, Meshedi Malik Mansur in Baku). In the 1880th M.M.Nevvab and Hadjy Husu organized meetings of Musicians, which were dedicated to discussion of esthetic problems of music, mastery performance and mugam . Meetings were attended by famous singers and saz players Meshedi Djemil Amirov, I.Abdullayev, S.Shushinskiy, Sadykhdjan and others.

Hadji Husu, progeny of Kharrat Gulu, is one of the great representatives of vocalism of Shusha. He studied mugam , improved a number of them and created new mugam s. Mirza Sadyg Esed ogly was a maestro of tar of the 19th century, he reconstructed tar and created the tar of modern type. Meshedi Zeynal , Meshedi Djamil Amirov, Shirin Akhundov, Gurban Primov were all representatives of this art. 

There are a number of cities in the world, which absorbed music by its stones, tower and its atmosphere. These are Vienna (Austria), Neapol (Italy) and Shusha (Karabakh, Azerbaijan). There exist a popular saying that infants in Shusha even cry under the music of mugam.

Prominent representatives of the Shusha Caucasus Conservatoire successfully represented Azeri music and glorified it all over the world.

Shusha is the home of Mir Movsum Nevvab, Kharrat Gulu, Hadjy Husu, Sadikhdjan, Meshedi Isi, Abdulbaghy Zulalov, Djabbar Qaryaghdyoglu, Kechedji ogly Memmed, Meshedi Memmed Ferzeliyev, Islam Abdullayev, Seyid Shushinskiy, Bulbul, Zulfi Adygozelov, Khan Shushinskiy, Meshedi Djamil Amirov, Qurban Pirimov, composers Uzeyir Hadjybeyov, Zulfugar Hadjybeyov, Fikret Amirov, Niyazi, Afrasiyab Bedelbeyli, Soltan Hadjibeyov, Ashraf Abbasov, Suleyman Aleskerov, and singer Rashid Behbudov. Yet this list is not a complete list of musicians of Shusha.

In the early 20th century, in the atmosphere of socio-economic and cultural growth, U.Hadjibeyov laid the foundation of the culture of modern professional music of Azerbaijan and created a synthesis of composer creations and folklore music. That caused the interference of Western and Eastern cultures. In 1908 U.Hadjibeyov staged the opera "Leyli and Medjnun" at the theater of H.Z.Tagiyev, thus, laying the foundation of opera not only in Azerbaijan but in the entire Muslim East and became the founder of the genre of mugam -opera. Realizing that the new genre will be difficult to comprehend, U.Hadjibeyov, referring to the poem by Fuzuli "Leyli and Medjnun" and genres of folklore music, created a stage work, corresponding to the spirit of that period and moral needs of people 

Uzeyir Hadjibeyov U.Hadjibeyov is also the founder of musical comedy in Azerbaijan. Musical comedies of social character ("Husband and Wife", 1910, "Either this or that, 1911, Arshyn Mal Alan, 1913) based on composed folklore songs and dance music. His musical comedy Arshyn Mal Alan (staged in 1913) was a great success.

The comedy was translated into English, German, Chinese, Arabic, Persian, Polish, Ukrainian, Belarus, Georgian and other languages (nearly 70 languages), staged in 120 theater in Moscow, Istanbul, New-York, Paris, London, Teheran, Cairo, Beijing, Berlin, Warsaw, Sofia, Budapest, Bucharest and other cities and repeatedly put on screen (in Baku, 1916-1917, in USA in the 1930th, in Soviet Azerbaijan, in 1945 and 1960). With Rashid Behbutov (1915-1989), playing the principal role, the opera gained worldwide popularity. The popular actor of the USSR R.Behbudov sang folklore and composed songs, played the role of Balash of the opera Sevil by F.Amirov. He was also the founder and leader of the theater "Mahny".


Opera "Either this or that" by U.Hadjibeyov, was put on screen in Yalta in 1919 and for the second time it was put on film a the film studio Azerbaijanfilm in 1956.

The 1930th were marked by the rise in Azerbaijan music. That period accounted for the establishment of collectives, symphonic orchestras (1920, at present Azerbaijan State Symphonic orchastra after U.Hadjibeyov), chorus (1926), Orchestra of Folklore musical instruments (1931), dance ensemble (1926), Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society (1936), Azerbaijan Union of Composers (1934), Musical Comedy Theater (1938, now after Sh. Gurbanov), as well as the scientific research office of music (1931) under the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire to study and propagandize the folklore music of Azerbaijan

In the 1920th R.M. Gliyer created the opera Shahsenem (staged in 1927) based on the epos Ashyg Garib, using the folklore music of Azerbaijan. The opera strengthening the achievements of world music was the first initiative to create opera on the basis of patterns of Azeri folklore music.

U.Hadjibeyov is also the author of the popular heroic epopee "Koroglu" (received the USSR state award in 1941). The opera, marked for its innovative ideas, reflected the national spirit and psychological profundity. U.Hadjibeyov attaining the harmony of genre composition of folklore music, intonation devices and expressive means of opera music created masterpieces of national opera. The opera includes scenes of people's life and deep characters of main heroes. The role of Bulbul was played by Koroghlu over 400 times.

1920th -1940th are marked by the appearance of new composers.

In the early 1930th works (the first and the second fantasy by U.Hadjibeyov) are written for symphonic orchestras (Solemn march of U.Hadjibeyov, "In the streets of Azerbaijan", "Dance of free woman", "March of Azerbaijani march RV-8 of Muslim Magomayev) and folklore musical instruments 

The theme of patriotism and heroism, which rose from the war of 1941-1945 , was reflected in songs, in compositions for folklore musical instruments (by U.Hadjibeyov, S.Rustemov), in the opera "Motherland" by G.Garayev and C.Hadjiyev (presented the USSR State award in 1946_, the first symphony by Dj.Hadjiyev, G.Garayev and S.Hadjibeyov (first creations of the symphonic genre of Azeri music). The opera "Khosrov and Shirin" by Niyazi (1942), romantic ghazals by U.Hadjibeyov "Without you" and "Sweetheart" were also the creative works of the period of war. The founder of new genre of ghazal U.Hadjibeyov created the synthesis of declamation, turned into the language of music and melodies of cantilena type using the poetry and speech with a great mastery. The entire music achieved a great progress through the year of the Great Patriotic War.

In the post war period the national music experiences new growth. The music of Azerbaijan was the success not only in our country but also in the countries abroad.

The ballet "Seven Beauties" by Gara Garayev (1952, based on the analogous poem by Nizami, choreograph P.A.Gusev, Azerbaijan Theater of Opera and Ballet) opened a new stage in the history of Azeri music. The ballet "Seven Beauties" played a critical role in the development of ballet in Azerbaijan as it founded the new musical dramaturgy in the ballet art of Azerbaijan.

The ballet "The path of thunder" by U.Hadjibeyov was staged in the Theater of Ballet and Opera of Leningrad in 1958 (Lenin's award in 1967, based on the analogous novel by P.Abrahams, choreograph-K.M.Sergeyev). The author, bringing the tragic love of a main character to a sharp conflict, created a modern play specific from the point of view of its musical composition. The play combines a clear musical concept, brilliant characters and folklore music of the South Africa. 

S.Hadjibeyov created the ballet "Gulshen" (1950, the state award of the USSR, 1952), which reflected contemporary life. Operettas "Gozun Aydyn" by F.Amirov (1946), "The crane" by S.Rustamov (1947), "Ulduz" (1948) are the examples of thes janre.


In the 1950th the symphonic music was marked for a particular rise. Urgent socio-political problems of that period were reflected in various symphonic creations of composers. F.Amirov entered the history as the founder of a unique genre of symphonic mugam . The composer developed the theme, momentum and other stylistic peculiarities of mugam from the symphonic point of view. Vividness of the play of orchestra, genre diversity and profundity of characters, peculiar of Amirov's symphonic creations, were reflected in different works of that period.

The symphonic art of Dj.Hadjibeyov was marked by the profundity of psychological ideas of its characters, the sharp dramatic development of music, the epic nature of its melodic. A number of symphonic compositions of S. Hadjibeyov (his second symphony, 1946) fully covered the theme of the Great Patriotic War, while the music of his other creations were decorated with vivid colors of the genre. 

Dj.Djahangirov mainly created vocal-symphonic compositions (the poem "On the other side of Aras" , the state award of the USSR in 1950, the cantata "Fuzuli"). The vocal-symphonic poem "On the other side of Aras" was a new genre, which combined both symphonic and cantata-oratorical features of music. The rise in song genre was closely connected with the creative activity of S.Rustamov, T.Guliyev, R.Hadjiyev, Dj.Djahangirov, G.Huseynli, A.Rzayeva. At that time a number of songs were written to films and drama plays and the art pf performance was also widely spread. The first state string quartet (A.Aliyev, M.Taghiyev, R.Seyidzade, S.Aliyev, winners of international contest (1957, Moscow) of the sixth world festival ) was established in 1957. The new generation of singers included the popular singer of the USSR F.Ahmedova, ballerina L.Vekilova, honoured worker of fine arts Dj. Hadjibeyov (conductor), etc. The first session of the Union of Composers of Azerbaijan (beginning from 1990-called the Union of Composers and Musicians of Azerbaijan) took place in 1956.

The 196oth 1980th were marked by creative activity of elder generation of composers, the appearance of new composers, significant progress in all genres and expansion of international contacts.

Composers of Azerbaijan frequently addressed to opera and ballet in their creative activity. Ballets "The legend of one love" (1961) by A.Melikov, "Epos about Nasimi" (1973 The State award of the Azerbaijan SSR in 1974) and "One thousand and one night" by Fikret Amirov (1979; the state award of the USSR in 1980) are famous worldwide.

Symphonic and chamber music of Azeri composers began to spread in the countries abroad. Symphonic Mugams by F.Amirov "Shur" and "Kurd ovshani", by Nizami "Rast" as well as symphonic compositions by G.Garayev and U.Hadjibeyov were introduced in different countries and received high appreciation. Compositions by A.Melikov, Kh. Mirzazade, A.Alizade, F.Alizade, F.Garayev, Dj.Guliyev, etc gained success in Europe, America and Asia. Singers from Azerbaijan frequently go on tour to foreign countries. 

Popular singers R.Bahbutov, Niyazi, Z.Khanlarova, M.Magomayev. etc were widely reknowned. Singers as F.Gasymova (1977, Italy, the first place), Kh.Gasymova (1981, Athens, the first place; the second prize of the eighth international competition after P.I.Chaikovcky (Moscow, 1982), pianist F.Bedelbeyli (1967, Gradets-Kralove, CSSR, 1968, Lisbon, Portugal, the first prize), young pianists M.Guseynov, M.Adygozelzade etc. were the winners of various competitions.

Such contemporary conductors as R.Abdullayev, Dj.Djafarov, Y.Adygozelov, T.Goychayev, G.Imanov, R.Mustafayev, N.Azimov made the creations of composers clear to the audience and propagandized them. 

The list of art workers, who contributed to the preservation and development of the traditions of mugam and folklore art includes popular singers Kh.Shushinsky, R.Muradova, Sh.Alekperova, A.Aliyev, S.Gadimova, F.Mehreliyeva, T.Ismailova, A.Babayev, I.Rzayev, honoured singers Z.Adigozelov, H.Guseynov, Q.Rustamov, C.Akberov, A.Qasimov, popular players of tar A. Bakikhanov, H.Mamedov, B.Mansurov, A.Quliyev, R.Quliyev, honored figures A. Dadasov, M.Muradov, F.Alekberov, popular kamancha player H.Aliyev, honored kamancha players H.Mirzaliyev, T.Bakikhanov, Sh. Eyvazova, F.Dadashov, honored drummer Ch.Mehdiyev, accordion players Abutalib (A.Yusifov), Kor Akhad, Kerbelayi Letif, T.Demirov, A.Israfilov, saz players A.Nasibov, etc.

Pop and jazz music of Azerbaijan are developing successfully as well. T.Guliyev, R.Hadjiyev create compositions for the State Jazz Orchestra of Azerbaijan (art director Niyazi, music director -T.Guliyev), established in 1941. P.Rustembeyov (saxophone), A.Bunyadzade, D.Baghyrzade, etc were the first performers of the orchestra. The State Variety Show Orchestra of Azerbaijan (1956, art director R.Hadjiyev), pop ensemble "we are from Baku (1957), Pop orchestra of the Azerbaijan Television and broadcasting (1960, art director and conductor T.Ahmedov), quartet "Gaya" (1960, later vocal ensemble, art director T.Mirzayev), Azerbaijan State Theater of Songs (1966, art director and soloist R.Behbudov), Azerbaijan State Pop and Symphonic Orchestra (1975, art director and soloist-M.Magomayev) were established and played a critical role in the development of pop music of Azerbaijan. In the postwar period opera singers (R.Atakishiyev, L.Imanov) had a great impact on the improvement of pop art in Azerbaijan. The creative activity of R.Behbudov and M.Magomayev added to the pop art of the country.

Popular artists Sh.Alekperova, G.Mamedov, M.Babayev, F.Kerimova, E.Rehimova, Y.Rzazade, G.Agayev, I.Guliyeva, honored artist A.Ganiyev as well as H.Hadiyeva, A.Islamzade and others took an active part in the propaganda of pop songs.

Mustafazade made a great contribution to the development to jazz music of Azerbaijan. He was the founder and the leader of ensembles "Sevil" and "Mugam " and took the first place in the eighth International jazz contest (Monte-Carlo, 1978). R.Babayev, V.Sadigov, A.Guseynov, Dj.Zeynalli, A.Mustafazade and other performers of jazz are also well-known. 

In the current political situation compositions under the constant thread of war on the issue of war in Karabakh, glorifying Motherland, urging to defend it from the enemy account for the most part of contemporary art of music.

These include the oratorios "Garabag Shikeste" and " Caravan of grief"(1999) by V.Adygozelov , the symphony "Cry of Garabagh" (2001) by T.Bakikhanov, the ode "Motherland" (1993) by A.Alizade, the seventh symphony by N.Mamedov, dedicated to the Hodjaly tragedy (1998), the cantata "Azerbaijan, you are right" (1992), the poem by H.Khanmemmedov "My saz is crying", written for folklore musical instruments (devoted to martyrs of Karabakh, 1991), the cantata "Martyrs of my land" {1990) and "I miss you, Shusha" (1999), by S.Ibrahimova, created for tar and string orchestras, etc. 

The ballet "Trip to the Caucasus" by A.Alizade, based on the creation of A.Dyuma, was staged in 2002. The one-act ballet by T.Bakikhanov "Good and evil" (1990), ballets "Sheykh Senan" by H.Mamedov, "Alibaba and forty robbers" (1990) were created at that period. 

In the period of independence composers of Azerbaijan take part in different music festivals, international contests, world cultural and musical projects , represent Azeri music abroad, thus introducing it worldwide.

Creations of A.Melikov, V.Adygozelov, Kh.Mirzazade, A.Alizade, T.Bakikhanov, F.Garayev, I. Hadjibeyov, F.Alizade, Dj.Guliyev, E.Dadashva, R.Gasanova, G.Mamedov, F.Guseynov were introduced in Turkey, Norway, Holland, Cyprus, USA, Switzerland, Germany, Tailand and other countries and won the first prizes in influential competitions. The first nights of compositions by A.Melikov (Symphony No 7), V.Adygozelov (the oratorio "Chanaggala") were held in Turkey, while creative works by T.Bakikhanov ("Seasons of North Cyprus", "The suite of North Cyprus") were first introduced in Cyprus. Compositions by F. Garayev ("Khutbe, Mugam , Sure", "The disaster of Babil", 2000), F. Alizade ("Mirage"), R.Gasanova ("The Sky") were performed in Holland. The participation of F.Alizade ("Dervish") and Dj.Guliyev ("The Caravan") in the Silk Road was a success. F.Guseynov won the first place in a contest, held by UNESCO and Japan (the Concerto for a symphonic orchestra "A trip across time") and was also presented the UN award for his oratorio "Let it be piece in the world".

The professional performer of mugam A.Gasymov was conferred the gold medal of UNESCO for his contribution to the development and perfection of art of mugam in 1999.
Compositions of U.Hadjibeyov, G.Garayev and F.Amirov were successfully performed by the Azerbaijan State Symphonic Orchestra (art director and conductor-popular art worker R.Abdullayev) at an international festival, held in France. The brilliant performance of the Azerbaijan State Chamber Orchestra, State Dance Ensemble and a group of art workers at the International Exhibition "Expo-2000", held in Germany, was in the limelight of that period

The first night of the opera "Khan qizy Natavan" (December, 2003) by V. Adygozelov, devoted to the poetess of Azerbaijan Natavan, was held in 2003. This creation of the prominent composer occupied a fitting place in the history of development of national opera.

Rich music of Azerbaijan is at a new stage of development. We expect it to attain new progress, to create perfect compositions and brilliant talents.


Literature Music / Fine arts / Architecture / Theatre & Cinema  / Rugs / Museums

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