By Laman Ismayilova
One of the most brilliant pages in the history of national music undoubtedly belongs to legendary Azerbaijani composer, Gara Garayev.
February 5, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most outstanding figures in the national culture.
Garayev inherited his love of music from his parents. His father Ebulfaz Garayev was a famous pediatrician in Baku. Ebulfaz Garayev was known for his kindness and generosity. When patients were too poor to pay for treatment, he often left money under the prescription that he had written out for them.
He knew Azerbaijani folk music very well and loved to sing. Garayev's mother, Sona Khanim, was among the first graduates of the Music School, the Baku branch of the Russian Music Society.
At the age of eight, Garayev first entered the junior music school at the Azerbaijan State Conservatoire. His exceptional musical talents let him to study simultaneously in two faculties at the conservatoire. His teachers were Georgi Sharoyev, Leonid Rudolf, and the prominent Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli.
In 1938, Garayev composed his first musical piece, a cantata "The Song of the Heart" to the poem by Rasul Rza. It was performed in Moscow's Bolshoi Theater in the same year. He was only 20 years old at the time.
Garayev returned to Baku in 1941. He began teaching students at Azerbaijan State Philharmonic Society.
In 1945, both he and Jovdat Hajiyev wrote the "Motherland" opera, for which they were awarded a prestigious Stalin Prize. At the age of 30, Garayev was again awarded this prize for his symphonic poem "Leyli and Majnun", based on the same-titled famous work of Nizami Ganjavi.
In 1952, under the direction of the choreographer P. A. Gusev, Garayev's "Seven Beauties" ballet was staged at the Azerbaijani Theater of Opera and Ballet. Based on Nizami Ganjavi's famous poem, "Seven Beauties", it became the first Azerbaijani ballet and opened a new chapter in the history of classical music of Azerbaijan.
His ballet, "Path of Thunder", staged in 1958, was dedicated to racial conflicts in South Africa. In the same year, he wrote the score for the documentary film" A Story About the Oil Workers of the Caspian Sea", directed by Roman Karmen and set at the Oil Rocks.
Through his life, Garayev wrote nearly 110 musical pieces, including ballets, operas, symphonic and chamber pieces, solos for piano, cantatas, songs and marches, and rose to prominence not only in Azerbaijan, but also worldwide.
He brilliantly juxtaposed features of Mugham with jazz, blues, African music, European counterpoint styles, and developments related to the 20th century Western music such as the 12-tone technique.
Garayev died on May 13, 1982 in Moscow at the age of 64.
The composer leaved behind a legacy of music that will be felt for generations to come. The memory of great composer will always live in the hearts of Azerbaijani people.
President Ilham Aliyev signed an order on October 17 to mark the 100th jubilee of the legendary Azerbaijani composer.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministry of Education and the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, are tasked to prepare and execute an action plan for the jubilee in consideration of proposals of the Union of Composers.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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