By Laman Ismayilova
Karabakh music has always taken a special place in Azerbaijan's music history. Famous for its fascinating melodies, it had been widely performed at many public celebrations and religious ceremonies.
The history of Karabakh music is closely connected with the art of ashiqs, which brilliantly unites poetry, storytelling, dance, and vocal and instrumental music into traditional performance art.
Ashiq Valeh was one of the greatest representatives of ashiq art in Karabakh. Valeh was the stage name of the ashiq. His real name was Sefi. At a young age, Sefi became a student of ashiq Samed, who taught him the art of playing saz and poetry.
Over his life, ashiq Valeh delighted listeners with beautiful music pieces such as "Karabakh shikestesi", "Kesme shikeste", "Bash Saritel" and "Orta Saritel".
In general, Ashig Huseyn (1800-1880), Ashig Ali (1807-1917), Ashig Alasgar (1821-1926), Ashig Aziz (1825-1918), Ashig Mahammad (1834-1914), Molla Juma (1855-1919) and others left an incredible mark on Karabakh ashig art.
Karabakh also brought up the first female representative of this art-Ashig Pari. She was known as one of the pioneering women among ashiqs.
In the 19th century, culture life was booming in the heart of Karabakh– the city of Shusha.
First time in Azerbaijan’s cultural history, a number of cultural institutions and events, including European and Eastern concerts, music, science and art meetings, theater, library were established in Shusha.
Various musical meetings, clubs and schools opened here. Young talents were taught by founders of Shusha's music schools Kharrat Gulu and Molla Ibrahim.
Kharrat Gulu Mahammad oghlu (1823-1883) is considered one of the most prominent Azerbaijani singers of that time. Famous for his beautiful voice, Kharrat Gulu masterely performed poems and ghazals and shared his skills with talented singers.
Through his activities, Kharrat Gulu significantly contributed to Azerbaijan's performing art and opened the way to many talents such as Haji Husu, Mashadi Isi,Sadikhjan,Abdulbagi Zulalov, Jabbar Garyagdioghlu and others.
Thanks to the joint efforts of mugham singer Haji Husu and scholar and eminent musician Mir Mohsun Navvab, meetings between musicians were regularly organized in Susha after the death of Kharrat Gulu.
The first Orient concert took place in Shusha in 1901. Lead by the prominent Azerbaijani playwright Abdurrahim Hagverdiyev, the concert featured performances of such cultural figures as Jabbar Garyagdioghlu,Meshedi Dadash, tar musicians Sadikhjan, Agha Bagdaguloghlu, ashiqs Najafgulu, Abbasgulu and many others
Shusha Vocal School has entered the history of Eastern music. There was a time when Shusha was also called "the Italy of the Caucasus" as it was often compared to Italian Vocal School.
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